Concert Review: The Radio Dept, Dec. 5, Scala

London – On principle, I am generally not  a fan of encores. They long ago stopped being a genuine surprise and/or expression of a band’s desire to keep playing and have since become more or less a cliche. The band goes through the charade of pretending to leave the stage and the audience pretty much always expects it to happen. This is why I’m secretly a little happy whenever a band doesn’t play an encore.

Still, sometimes circumstances can occur that make an encore seem like a genuinely special moment. Such a moment occurred during Radio Dept‘s Sunday night set at Scala. As the band left the stage, the crowd began to clap and stomp and cheer and do all the things that audiences do to bring a band back onstage.  But after a little while, the club piped in the prerecorded music that sends out a particular message: there will be no encore. Yet on this night, people did not just resign themselves to this fact and instead kept on clapping. And much to my surprise (and the band’s as well) they came back onstage and then proceeded to … well, to do nothing for a little bit.

“Sorry, we don’t usually do encores.”  they said as they figured out what to do. Problems with the drum machine combined with the fact that they really hadn’t planned on coming out again led to some scrambling around but eventually they worked out a drum-free rendition of “1995” that had much of the audience clapping along and left us all satisfied (except for the guy outside afterwards who was overheard to say he expected more of them. Relax, guy.  It was a good show).

The encore was the perfect ending to an equally impressive set of songs from their latest, Clinging To A Scheme, along with several older numbers … but not “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done.” In response to a shouted request for “Damage,” singer Johan Duncanson replied, “Sorry, we haven’t rehearsed that one,” before adding, “This one is almost as old.” They then launched into “Bus,” also off their debut album, Lesser Matters. Perhaps this was intended as some sort of consolation prize.

Overall, it was a good show. The band’s dreamy, shoegazey brand of indie pop came across quite well live. The songs tend to blend together but in a good wall of noise sort of way, achieving a mesmerising quality. Duncanson’s voice shone through pretty strongly and the whole band seemed like pretty laid back but solid performers, not saying too much in terms of stage banter.  Radio Dept. seemed happy to play before the fairly packed audience and were obviously somewhat surprised at the crowd calling for the aforementioned encore. “On a Sunday night too!” said Duncanson as they returned to the stage. I will admit that I was not overly familiar with Radio Dept’s stuff before this show, but they impressed me and they definitely restored my faith in the concept of the encore. They earned that encore.

Radio Dept. – Heaven’s On Fire by AnnaVictrola

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

One Response to Concert Review: The Radio Dept, Dec. 5, Scala

  1. Pingback: Concert Review: Radio Dept, February 7th, Lee’s Palace | The Panic Manual

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