Live Review: Everything Everything + Hatchie – The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne (05.01.18)

With their fourth record A Fever Dream, Manchester outfit Everything Everything delivered what ended up being my favourite release of 2017. Taking what they’d done with Get To Heaven, the band refined it into a perfect body of work; an album in the classic sense of the word, a well articulated effort that embodied everything the band had worked towards. But does a prefect record translate into a great live show?

Before I could find out, Brisbane’s Hatchie opened things up. It’s the relatively new project from Babaganouj’s Harriette Pilbeam, and features a who’s who of the Brisbane music scene as her four piece support, including Babaganouj’s Charles Sale, who would be playing his final show with the project tonight. The group deliver a strong dose of dreamy, shoegaze pop-rock, that has already seen them garner a healthy dose of triple j love. Much of this is due to their latest single “Sure”, which closed the set and is their strongest work to date. “You Could Be A Bad Guy” (which may or may not be the title), was another highlight of the set, and their earlier single “Try” also made an appearance towards the end of the set. With “Sure”, Hatchie had already proven herself an artist to watch in 2018 – and the strength of this set only cemented that. Very excited to see how this project develops.

After a short break, Everything Everything emerged on stage, five men all in the same outfit, to rapturous applause from the audience. And if there was any doubt the band would be able to achieve the vocal strengths and intricacies that are found on record, they were immediately quelled as they jumped into “Night of Long Knives” off their latest LP; Jonathan Higgs’ vocals leaving the hair standing up on the back of our necks. His vocals were immaculate – as authentic to the record as you could be, with just enough variation and fragility to know it was really him singing. The band, meanwhile, were stoic in their articulation of the material, rarely deviating from the recording, but making changes as needed to make it more feasible in the live setting – and not hesitating to add a bit of flair here and there, too.

The set lent mainly on their last two records, with a few favourites from Arc, including what has to be regarded as their first hit, the remarkable “Cough Cough”. “MY KZ, UR BF” was the only inclusion off their debut Man Alive, proving to be one of the few tracks of the night that the whole room didn’t know word for word. Songs like “Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread” and “Don’t Try” were among the many tracks across the main set which garnered a suitable singalong from the crowd, who lapped up every note, beaming at the venue’s mix and the musicianship of their favourite music.

After an hour and no less than fifteen tracks, the group disappeared after “Distant Past” for the ever insisted encore pause, returning for three tracks that saw the crowd whipped into a frenzy – “Ivory Tower” (an easy favourite off of the latest album), “Can’t Do” and “No Reptiles” – as perfect a set closer as there ever was. I mean I wouldn’t have said no to “White Whale” in its place (the album closer for A Fever Dream), but we can’t get everything we want.

Higgs was sometimes on guitar, once or twice on piano (as in “A Fever Dream”, a highlight of the night), but often just on vocals, proving a commanding presence with his powerful, beautifully controlled vocals. The songs were very much played as recorded – which is all the more impressive due to the intricacies, but this meant your favourite songs on record were going to be your favourites during the set. For me his meant tracks like “Run The Numbers” and “Big Game” really stood out, though it’s hard to fault a note of the entire set.

Everything Everything are enjoying being at the top of their craft right now. They’ve never sounded better – on stage or on record – and the level of adoration they’ve received has never been stronger. It’s hard to see how they could top what they’ve achieved here, but I wouldn’t put it past them. If you’re not listening to them now, you’ve got to. You’re missing out on one of the world’s finest bands, and what will easily sit as one of the best gigs of 2018. Not a bad accomplishment just five days into the New Year.

The author attended on 5th January 2018 at the Croxton Bandroom in Melbourne as a guest of Secret Sounds.