11 Sep 2015

Communions & Shame @ Electrowerkz, London (live review)

Before starting this article concerning Communions’ second London show, at Electrowerkz in Islington, I must admit that I am hugely biased in their favour. If you desire to read a level and systematic essay on the event, you won’t find it here.

For me, Communions are an incredibly welcome prospect, not only to the world of guitar-pop, but also to the world in general; they sound like nothing else around at the moment, nothing else sounds like them.

I found myself looking forward to seeing the Danish quartet much more than I usually do with new bands. Often they have to progress and mature before reaching their full potential, but Communions come as a fully formed unit. The last time I saw them has stuck with me as particularly significant, and their recent self-titled EP only serves to strengthen their magnetism.

The first band of the night are more than deserving of significant praise in an article dedicated to another band. Shame, South Londoners and previous support act for the likes of Fat White Family and Evans the Death, have a kind of teenage sleaze about them that I associate with music festivals: Lots of baggy shirts and unidentifiable substances. Their hyperactive rock ‘n’ roll, which straddles on the fence of Angelic Upstarts-esque punk, recalls all sorts of people, but not strongly enough to call it derivative. The presence of their frontman was a spectacle in its self, with some spiritually invasive and hypnotic jogging on the spot. Imagine a villain from a 1970’s children’s programme in the body of an angry, hard-as-nails ‘Jack the Lad’ – as my grandmother would say.

Almost an antithesis to Shame, Communions took to the stage in a wash of red and blue lights with the opening chords of a new song, followed by the more familiar Wherever. The recent evolution in Communions’ sound has produced a spate of gargantuan pop jewels, somewhere in-between New Order and The Smiths. This sounds like a lazy comparison, but that’s the only way I feel is ample in describing how capacious yet full the songs are; take the emotional stimulation of tracks like Perfect Kiss or Ceremony, and merge them with the intricacies and adeptness of something like Still Ill and you are closer to understanding a vital part of Communions’ sound.

Since previous gigs and sessions, the band actually has somewhat matured. They haven’t changed their sound, ultimately, but they have refined it, discarding the entirety of their debut EP, Cobblestones, from the set, leaving the past behind and heralding in the future. They played a smattering of new songs, amidst tracks taken from both releases since signing to Tough Love. The new songs seem to be a continuation of their recent EP, but bigger and with the benefit of more experience. Once you get past the alienation of not knowing them, it’s hard not to get lost amongst the weaving guitars and pulsating rhythm section.

The high point of the night, however, was facilitated under the veil of some impressively overactive smoke machines. There was more smoke than I have ever witnessed at a gig, and so the atmosphere for the later part of the set was unlike anything I have witnessed either. Both Out of My World and Forget It’s a Dream are archetypal indie songs that can only come from a diligent and dedicated approach to music. It’s easy to pin everything on The Stone Roses, The Smiths and New Order, but the truth is that Communions have much more depth and originality. There is aplomb to their performance and an overwhelming sense that every one of them knows exactly what they’re doing.

(written by jonah hartley)