Editors, O2 Academy, Birmingham 16/11/13

I couldn’t think of anywhere we’d rather be on a Saturday night, Birmingham” exclaims Editors vocalist Tom Smith, mid-way through their latest homecoming show in the UK’s second city. And what a homecoming it was.
At around 9pm the house lights dim and one of Brum’s favourite bands return. ‘Sugar’, with its enthralling, captivating bassline and heart-felt emotive lyrics kicks off proceedings and a small section of those die-hard Editors fans at the front surge forward to get closer to their heroes. ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ and ‘Bones’ from 2007’s An End Has A Start follow in quick succession, with both receiving rapturous rapport from the Brummie faithful who seem to know every single word.
There’s something a bit special about bands who return to their old stomping grounds; we’ve all seen how most decent bands can control a crowd at the click of a finger, but with Editors, and more poignantly frontman Tom, they control the crowd at every hand movement, instruction and pause. It’s a far cry from the days of Editors playing at the Jug of Ale in Moseley, and tonight’s crowd is vastly bigger – around 30 times bigger, in fact – but the passion is still there, and, as you can tell from the smiles on the faces of the band, they’ve still got the same love for music as those early ’00 years.
‘You Don’t Know Love’ shows a rather experimental side of Editors, with its New Order-esque electronica reverberating off the walls of the O2 Academy and its accompanying strobes encompassing that of 1980s Manchester, but the biggest reaction of the night (so far) is for ‘A Ton Of Love’, the lead single from latest album The Weight Of Your Love. The near-3,000 strong crowd bounce along to every beat of the chorus, which, when it kicks in, is flawless. And everyone within these four walls know it. Earlier material from debut album The Back Room is greatly welcomed, with the likes of ‘Bullets’ and ‘Munich’ being the kind of tracks every fan from day one is here for tonight.
‘In This Light and on This Evening’ performed live slowly draws you in for three minutes, before almost unexpectedly smacking you in the face with its heavy patter of drums alongside a wealthy dose of industrialist post-punk and inadvertently sounds better than on record. Nearing towards the end of the night, Birmingham finds a bit more energy to scream back lyrics of ‘The Racing Rats’ back at the stage, before the band take it down a notch for set closer ‘Honesty’.
Returning for an encore of three tracks, Tom thanks the crowd for spending their Saturday night with them and even drew probably the biggest cheer of the night with “it’s great to be back in Birmingham – and just so you know, every song you’ve heard tonight was written in Selly Oak“. An extended, seven minute version of the brilliant ‘Papillon’ closes the night for the second and final time, its chorus being one that sticks in your head on the way home and probably for the rest of the weekend.
Photographs by Rob Hadley.
Setlist:
Sugar
Someone Says
Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
Bones
Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool
All Sparks
Two Hearted Spider
You Don’t Know Love
Formaldehyde
A Ton of Love
An End Has a Start
Bullets
In This Light and on This Evening
Munich
The Racing Rats
Honesty
Encore:
Bricks and Mortar
Nothing
Papillon

Richard Franks

Editor and founder of Counteract. Freelance travel and music journalist.