The Last Shadow Puppets Make Long Anticipated Return
The Hackney Empire is a characteristic venue, serving as a semi-derelict yet elegant old theatre turned music venue. It was also an ideal venue for 1960s inspired super-duo The Last Shadow Puppets to host the London leg of their comeback tour and to showcase their newest songs, on the day of the release of their second album.
As Alex Turner and Miles Kane took stage there were less teenage screams than anyone who's been to an Arctic Monkeys gig amidst the Instagram generation would expect. But instead cheers of admiration and banter, reminiscent of the sounds heard at an early-noughties Arctic Monkeys gig.
Maybe the marriage of talent between Miles and Alex, which combine to make the sophisticated sound of TLSP, solely bring out true music fans - rather than the Tumblr-era bandwagon jumpers that have recently latched onto Arctic Monkeys. Or maybe The Last Shadow Puppets don’t bring about as many posers simply for being a lesser known name. But either way, right from the first applause to the last, the atmosphere in the crowd was humbling, and reminiscent of a time where actual music fans prevailed.
Throughout the set the duo played an even mix of songs from their debut album and songs from their freshly released LP. A stripped down version of recent single ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ saw beautifully synchronized harmonies during the first verse as the two stood side by in matching suits and mic stands. The chorus then saw Miles wander over to sit on a speaker in the stage corner whilst Alex addressed the lyrics to the crowd.
The duo finally reached out to hold hands in camaraderie as they sang the pivotal line of the chorus; ‘As I walk through the chalet of the shadow of death’ - indicative of the unwavering connection between the two, no matter their respective positions on the stage, or anywhere else.
When Miles took his turn at the forefront for next song ‘Meeting Place’ Alex took to roaming around the stage cooly, smoothly halting at his microphone at exactly the right second to address his lines directly at Miles in a theatrical manner, before striding around again whilst Miles remained in the spotlight for the majority of the song.
For new song ‘Sweet Dreams, TN’ Alex slowly accentuating the lyrics as if telling a story, captivating the audience and bringing the words of the song to life, without the help of any instrumentals (until they kicked in at the chorus), providing outstanding vocals as he did so.
‘The Dream Synopsis’ was also performed in the same manner. Being the fantastic wordsmith and storyteller that he is, it was refreshing to see Turner set out to put emphasis on the lyrics of the songs, which can often so easily get lost in a live performance.
The duo were clearly having fun every second that they were on stage, and the audience echoed that back to them. And who else other than Alex Turner could get away with exclaiming ‘Happy New Year Everybody!’ in the midst of Spring?
The gig had an air of intimacy and personalness which was held throughout. This was perfectly epitomized when the house lights came on at the end of the night and Alex and Miles took time out to point and wave at many of the audience members individually - from down on the floor to up in the circles - addressing lit up faces rather than a shadowy mass, and showing their appreciation and unity with the crowd.
The Last Shadow Puppets put on a great show in terms vocal and instrumental performance, and had fun whilst doing it. Not to mention uniquely providing an underlying theatrical element which really made the gig stand out, and which was perfectly in tune with the character of venue itself.