Beach House – Albert Hall, Manchester – 19th October 2018

Secret Meeting score: 88

by Stewart Cheetham

Engulfed by fog machines and darkness, the stage at Manchester’s packed out Albert Hall could be mistaken for being at a Sunn O))) gig. Yet, despite the senses being blurred, what emerges through the clouds is the silhouettes of Baltimore’s heroes, Beach House aka Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (joined by live drummer, James Barone).

Drawing on material from across all but one of their seven LPs to date, they open with Levitation from 2015’s Depression Cherry – an impressively powerful rendition, featuring Scally’s trademark soaring guitars.

Dark Spring is the first of seven tracks to be taken from their latest record, 7, and encapsulates their reinvigorated sound as Barone’s drum fills cause yet more havoc for the senses. Equally stunning is 7 centrepiece, Drunk in LA, which is a definite highlight – with Legrand delivering the heartache inducing chorus, “I had a good run playing horses in my mind; left my heart out somewhere running wanting strangers to be mine”, as Scally’s glistening, screaming guitar underpins her gorgeous voice.

In contrast to the band’s kaleidoscopic sound, stage design and crowd interactions are kept to a minimum. There is, however, a brief pause in affairs as Legrand wishes the crowd a ‘Happy Friday’ before Scally’s signature arpeggios kick off Myth – showing off Legrand’s effortless vocals at their immaculate best.

As a band that is sometimes criticised for sticking to the formula in terms of their ‘sound’, the encore perhaps serves to display their maturing progression. When they return to the stage, Legrand introduces Norway as a “blast from the past”, which with its shimmering guitars and dreamy vocals, is disparate to the final song of the evening: the darker, heavier sound of this year’s Dive. Like the rest of this 18 song set, it showed off a band whose back catalogue is brimming with such melodic, dream pop gems that shine brightly even through the darkness.

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