Live Review: Crystal Fighters – Liverpool

Crystal Fighters

Liverpool O2 Academy, 18.11.16

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

gaz_8593I cannot remember ever going to a gig like Crystal Fighters. This was not just a musical performance, but an all-out assault on the senses, the mind and the body. It was not just the band, the sound and lighting engineers, or the rest of their support cast who were responsible for this, but also the crowd who were enthralled from the word “Go” and took great joy in bouncing, dancing, singing, cheering and stomping their way through the set.

In fact, I had chosen to use my photo pass in order to get a quick route to the loo during the set by going down the back stairs to the venue on the first floor. Whilst I was there I experienced a new sensation at a gig. Fear. Crippling, terrifying fear took over me as Crystal Fighters encouraged their audience to stomp en masse. It seemed like the walls were shaking like there was a big, bad wolf intent on destroying academy venues outside.  The fear was brilliant like being on a rollercoaster and I could not get back up the stairs quick enough to take in more of the event, drunk on adrenaline.

gaz_8736There was a difficulty being in the sober minority at this gig. So much of the efforts of Crystal Fighters goes in to getting a party atmosphere built and pulsating, and they do that to aplomb, but it does mean that there is no chance whatsoever to watch the band perform on a musical basis. Throw your hands in the air like you don’t care!! Considering I prefer being at gigs I’m reviewing to stand like a right misery arse, it was a distinct change of pace.

In fact, there is an otherworldly feel to a Crystal Fighters gig. It was more like stumbling into a big top tent in the far corner of Glastonbury to find a crazy happening that creates one of the greatest nights of your life. Dreadlocks, tribal dress or rather oversized t-shirts simulating tribal dress, and new best friends wanting to hug you are de rigeur rather than a legal alien. With the band dressed as a thrift-shop pharaoh, milk maids and an Aztec shaman (at least to my eye untrained in the art of fancy dress), it just added to the feeling that this was not a club in Liverpool in November, but the middle of nowhere at the height of summer.

gaz_8518The explosion of the light, sound and the smell of the sage wafted to ward evil spirits away from the O2 Academy (I wish they’d been there when someone put a tariff at the bar that cost £4.40 for a pint of diet Coke) created such a party, that I actually felt it diminished the quality of the music a little bit. Instead of intelligent dance with a world music vibe, aurally the high tempo tunes felt a bit more like Europop you would buy when you got home from a family holiday in Mallorca to remind you of the tacky routine dance that everybody did.

Support act, Lao Ra, were in a difficult position. Their set was more associated with a Personal Appearance at a club night as they had to get the crowd going whilst similarly not getting the crowd going so much that it was going to tire them out for the main event. To be fair, they did that job to the letter, but I could understand why so much of the audience stayed away until right before Crystal Fighters got on stage.

Crystal Fighters are an amazing live act, but next time they come to Liverpool I’m leaving the iPad at home and grabbing a good few beers instead.


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