REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

‘Trying to Be Cool’ Phoenix make it look easy at their biggest headline show here

French electro guitar synth pop maestros Phoenix play Brixton Academy as part of the NME Awards Show.


Despite having been around for nearly 20 odd years and releasing their fifth (you're wrong if you think Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was their first album) Phoenix have always had a passionate yet  mystifyingly moderate following. Despite writing some infectiously glitzy songs and duetting with R Kelly they've always been just under the radar, possibly too French for some and their refusal to just be an indie guitar band never sat well amongst their British contemporaries. These headlining dates at the legendary Brixton Academy have been a long time coming for some very dedicated fans. Kicking the show off with Entertainment from 2013’s Bankrupt, a fitting start to a night that would include tracks spanning their 13 year long career and included fan favourite and breakthrough track Too Young.


Tracks from their last, stylised, synth heavy album like the sparkly
S.O.S In Bel Air or the slowed down slinky,
Chloroform, with its twinkly synths and funky bass line sit with ease next to the older more guitar orientated earlier songs like
Long Distance Call and
Consolation Prizes. The highlights of the set were easily the tracks off their excellent (and most critically and commercially successful)
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Listomania and
1901 (which drew the biggest cheer of the night) sounded incredible. Backed by a variety of different visuals and lighting, from multicoloured rainbow strips or white noise, all suited the Phoenix style, everything visual was a perfect accompaniment to the audio pleasures, right down to guitarist Laurent Brancowitz’s bright red trousers. Singer Thomas Mars was on top form, causing a crush at the barriers as he (on more than one occasion) came down to the very front to give fans a very personal performance.


Coming on for the encore fans were treated to a stripped down version of
Countdown but the real treat was yet to come. Speaking to the audience Mars said they wanted to do something "really special" and it was, Nicolas Godin from Air came onstage to play the beautiful
Playground Love. A track Mars co-wrote for
The Virgin Suicides, directed by his wife Sofia Coppola. Also included in the encore was the disco heavy
If I Ever Feel Better (from their first album). They finished the extensive set with
Rome, with singer Mars crawling not surfing his way across the pit and coming to a stand on adoring shoulders while the band played the outro refrain. The return to Brixton Academy on Wednesday 12
th February for the second sold show.


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  • Phoenix are absolutely immense. Missed Biffy for them at Leeds and I'd do it again in a heartbeat! Great review