M83 make really cheesy music. Their blend of French electro-pop would be at home in some late night Adult Swim parody infomercial. Yet somehow, Anthony Gonzalez is taken very seriously by his fans and the industry generally. Their latest album, Junk, was commercially a hit, and sonically, a diversion into new sounds and territory which (in my opinion) made them cheesier than before. They seem to be self-aware of this, however. Just look at their album cover for Junk, two Sesame Street monster creatures and a plasticine burger with the title Junk imposed above written comically in children’s handwriting. This isn’t an album with the end of the world seriousness of Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, or the candid nostalgia of Saturdays = Youth, rather it is a fun, 70s inspired, disco behemoth.
Clearly, M83 are conscious of their aesthetic. The show at The Tivoli was lit by neon bars staggered behind the band in a random pattern – reminiscent of the Technicolor 80s pop videos like WHAM!’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, or anything by a-Ha. Their stage presence was giddy and very queer – particularly Gonazlez’s front-man antics and Kaela Sinclair’s slow head-banging at the piano. The colours on stage were as vibrant as Junk’s album cover – neon pinks, greens, and yellows were absolutely blinding in a way that can only be described as amusing. The sounds of the on-stage synthesiser were deeply rich and comforting, dragging me back to high-school science lessons perched in front of an 80s VHS video on cell-structure.
The band played a nice mix of new and old tracks, with a very particular focus on their last three (and commercially successful) albums. The tracks from Junk were polished and glistened with that cheesy sheen. Throwbacks to tracks off Hurry Up We’re Going Home were duly welcomed by the crowd – the opener ‘Reunion’ had the crowd dancing from the get-go, and ‘Intro’ had the me in a state of painful euphoria. The biggest moments were the cuts from Junk. ‘Go’ had the whole crowd chanting along to the pre-chorus countdown, and their breakout single ‘Do It, Try it’ had everyone in a state of ecstatic bliss early in the piece.
When the group came out for an encore, they transformed The Tivoli into a French electro rave – dropping their instruments in favour of a semi-pre-programmed track, which had a monumental impact on the now-drunk crowd. This final part of the show reminded me that M83 were not all smiles and irony laced nostalgia – they have a bunch of talent and a very deep history.
And yeah, the sax solo in ‘Midnight City’ was lit.
Review - David Simmons
Photo - AAA Backstage