THE WAR ON DRUGS | London, O2 Academy Brixton

People should read The Prickle more. It combines traditional, tested journalism with modern flair and flamboyance — any arts connoisseur’s dream combo. I’m confused daily that more people haven’t heard of it.

The same can be said of The War on Drugs. This publication’s own esteemed Editor took weeks of haranguing before consenting to listen to what was, for me, the alternative album of 2014, Lost in the Dream. Among the chosen, when the band’s name is tentatively mentioned there ensues a broad grin and a garbled rush for superlatives, sheer euphoria at the encounter of a fellow believer. Most of the time, however, their arrival in a conversation is met by vacant shrugs and “Nope, haven’t heard”s, invoking pity and a certain amount of disdain.

So to be in a Brixton Academy-sized room filled exclusively with those in the know (plus the inevitable odd hanger-on, taking a well-judged punt on the advice of a more clued-up friend), was an electrifying experience. From the collective deep, expectant breath drawn as they opened with Under the Pressure to the effervescent ripple of excitement that greeted the intro to ‘An Ocean In Between the Waves’, it was one of those that drew the entire crowd into every shift in mood, key, tempo and timbre.

The show had everything visually as well as musically. Adam Granduciel and his overgrown lid headbanging out rambling solos on a sunburst Les Paul looked, from a distance, sufficiently like Slash for those with classic rock affinities to pretend. Three separate keyboard/synth rigs (for the more current and grown-up among us). Jon Natchez in the far corner looking for all the world like some bloke who’d turned up uninvited and announced “I hear you folks are after the ultimate wall of sound? You’ll need a tenor sax for that”.

Anyone who, like me, likes their music to straddle the boundary between modern and old hat should listen to WoD. Immediately. If you’ve not had them on in the background while reading this you’ve been wasting valuable WiFi. Once you’ve listened your way into full cult membership, apply online for tickets to their next show and see the real thing. It’s very, very good.

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