Concert Review | Wild Beasts barrell through last show of their tour

***** (5 stars out of 6); December 10 at Lille Vega

Spending the duration of my degree in Leeds, I developed a strong affiliation with Wild Beasts, who started out in the north of England. Originally signed to Bad Sneakers Records – a small-time label based in Leeds – they turned out a number of performances at small venues such as The Faversham, Brudenell Social Club and TJ’s back when ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’ had a cult following and profane poetry was their hook.

ItÂ’s been almost three years since I had seen them live, during which time they established themselves as one of BritainÂ’s boldest bands defining themselves on sordid musings about lust, voyeurism and primitive impulsions.

Entering onto the smoke-screened stage at Lille Vega, four shadowy figures emerged under pastel blue lighting. The joint frontmen – Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming –  slunk on to stage almost anonymously. Camouflaged in simple tees, they perched their glasses of red wine on the amplifier to the right of the stage. Long since shaking off their image as hit-or-miss performers – as they were back in the Leeds days – they confidently made the first stride into a thirteen song set with the eloquent ‘Albatross’ from their latest record Smother. 

Coasting through the highlights of their discography, they skated across their three studio albums selecting an eclectic blend of their darker material like ‘DeserterÂ’ and ‘Bed of Nails’, and got down to the raunchier ‘Two DancersÂ’, and the rhythmically volatile ‘Fun Powder PlotÂ’ and ‘We’ve Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’. Only the Wild Beasts can woo a crowd with a line like ‘They passed me round them like a piece of meat / his hairy hands / his dancing cock / down by his kneesÂ’.

Warmly received with applause after applause, the quartet swam through their much-practiced set-list with elegance and grace – averting the need to muster the crowd with vacuous banter and empty shout-outs to Copenhagen. One of the few things that were said to the audience was Thorpe saying that Copenhagen was their last call following a tour that has taken them from Falmouth through to Istanbul.

This did translate as something of an apology; a codified “We’re feeling a little bummed out so sorry about that.” Each member did seem somewhat fatigued in between songs and although they may have appeared withdrawn, their sorrowful resignation hardly impinged on their performance.

Hayden and Thorpe turned out pristine renditions of the quick-witted ‘Hooting and Howling’ with elegance, grace and vigor; their contrasting vocal styles working together in a way not fully captured in their studio recordings. Finishing the set with a trio of songs for an encore, they faded from the stage much in the same way they entered, laying their tired bones to rest.