Into the Pit: 102: dEUS – Live at the Garage – 01-June 2011

Like it or not, club gigs during a warm summer can be a real trial. And so it proved on Wednesday night, with the Garage resembling a sauna by the time we got through the doors at about 1945, never mind when the bands were on later and the venue had filled up. Still, I love dEUS, and there was no way a little bit of heat discomfort was going to get in my way.

Live @ Relentless Garage, London N5
01 June 2011

And as it turned out, the early arrival was worth the effort, as support act Balthazar were really quite charming. Both times I’ve now seen dEUS, they rather impressively bring across a more local band as support, giving them exposure that they perhaps would never have had touring on their own, and in both cases the bands have been well worth checking out. Last time it was De Staat, this time Balthazar were a rather more fresh-faced and younger act. And they kinda sounded, well, a bit like dEUS. So, a left-field approach to indie-rock, if you will, but instead of burrowing into the deeper, darker, bluesier corners like the headliners, most of Balthazar’s songs were bathed in light. A light, summery touch abounded on some songs, four of the five contribute vocals, and there are some unexpected hip-hop-esque elements, and at other points come across as a band who are clearly familiar with the work of the Arctic Monkeys.

Still, their set was worth it alone for the quite fabulous Fifteen Floors, and going on the way the crowd suddenly woke up after that song, I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines. Certainly a band I’ll be listening to more of in future.

So, onto dEUS. I’d noted in the day or two prior to the gig that, to my surprise, it was a sold out gig – and by the time they took the stage, they really weren’t kidding. It was packed, unpleasantly so, and it didn’t help how warm it was in there, either.

I finally saw them after years of waiting back in 2008 in Manchester, and I have to be honest – this gig simply wasn’t as good. It’s not as if it was bad, though, it was just a bit ragged at points. It was otherwise marked with joyous, happy moments, too, which was the upside.

Part of my problem with the show was an unexpected setlist that concentrated heavily on In A Bar, Under The Sea and Pocket Revolution, two of the perhaps unappreciated albums in the dEUS canon, and of those songs played, I honestly can’t remember the last time I listened to the whimsical The Real Sugar – one of a number of songs from those albums that I can take or leave. Conversely, just one song from the much-loved The Ideal Crash still strikes me as somewhat perverse.

It’s not all “meh” from those albums, though. Fell Off The Floor, Man was once again gloriously chaotic, stretched out even further than usual, still sounding like they are falling down the stairs while playing it. And I’ll never, ever get tired of the slow burn and build of Bad Timing, teased in gradually as the set closer.

dEUS setlist:
Little Arithmetics
Fell Off The Floor, Man
The Architect
Second Nature
Sun Ra
The Real Sugar
Constant Now
Instant Street
If You Don’t Get What You Want
Theme From Turnpike
Smokers Reflect
Dark Sets In
Bad Timing

Suds & Soda

As befitting a band who are preparing to release new material (new album Keep You Close is due, but delayed until September), new material was played, too – and all three songs were pretty good, building on the spiky, post-punk style from Vantage Point that a little surprisingly (going on their history) suits them well. Pick of the bunch, though, was forthcoming new single Constant Now, a rolling, multi-vocal song that has the kind of melody that is going to get stuck in my head. I’ll be looking forward to hearing a recorded version of that.

As with many bands that have a long career and have kept fans interested for many years, it’s often the oldest songs that many people are attending gigs for. And this show was certainly one of those – the encore was utter bedlam as the band finally returned to their much-loved debut album, for what turned out to be two last songs – the nineties-rock thrills of morticiachair before finishing with a chaotic, raucous and quite wonderful Suds & Soda that had half the crowd bouncing like mad and just about everyone singing along. With both vocal lines at once.

There appeared to be an expectation of a further encore after that – certainly other shows on the tour have had them – but it wasn’t to be, meaning that the glaring omission of Roses (a perennial fan favourite and encore song) seemed to leave quite a few people, this writer included, rather disappointed. But that was kind of the story of the show really – promising brilliance, occasionally delivering but every now and again falling a little flat.

Still, if they tour again when Keep You Close does finally surface, I’ll be there once again, for sure.

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