The Last Shadow Puppets At The Olympia Theatre – Photos & Review
In the time it’s taken The Last Shadow Puppets (eight years to be precise) to produce their second record, music has undergone a dramatic transformation. Moving from The Age of The Understatement to the dawn of matching velour tracksuits, the pair’s second musical offering was bound to reflect both musical and personal changes. Notably, Tuner’s progression from the grit and grim of his Sheffield settee to the plush rock ‘n’ roll scene of LaLa Land; his youthful spit-firing of lyrics for lush Californian witticisms. Kane has worked hard to become his own artist too, no longer a mere sidekick to Turner’s Batman – his fanbase has grown as exponentially as his reputation for being a lounge-lizard.
The duo’s second coming was inevitable, people hoped it would fill the Arctic Monkeys hole in their lives, yet after spending almost a decade being mentally constructed in fan’s minds of what the two would produce this time, it was hard to know what to expect with Everything You’ve Come to Expect. Yet, with three sold out nights in the Olympia billed, and the first night already under their belt, it was glaringly obvious that affection for the pair had not waned, no matter how much they might deviate from their original stylings…
The venue was a haze of smoke and dim light, it all seems so very… them. As the duo walk onstage, accompanied by a string quartet and handful of other musicians, the screams and cheers swell to the point of deafness. Rather wordlessly they begin, bursting into ‘Used To Be My Girl’ and ‘The Age of Understatement’. There’s an air of theatricality to the entire show with Kane in a 70s shirt that’s almost as self-parodic as the tracksuits while Turner looks like a wedding performer. Turner is the one who naturally draws a crowd and Kane works relentlessly to bring it back to himself, particularly when he takes the limelight on ‘Only The Truth’, although neither seems overtly eager to reprise the role from the other.
The performance is one that is sparse on interaction, even when Kane offers fans sporadic interjections they’re almost muffled, a throaty Northerner remark. The pair don’t seem disenchanted with the audience, they’re just more concerned with the music and each other. Their chatter and messing between themselves seems almost incessant as they exchange grins and side glances. Even when an undergarment is enthusiastically flung at the Monkey frontman, he simply sidesteps it like a puddle in the pavement, more focused on what his musical partner is doing. The audience is almost voyeuristic, gazing in upon two perfectly coordinated artists doing what they do best as their focus shifts from each other to the performance. The almost slapdash method of their US tv performances is disregarded, there’s an element of focus, the intimacy of the setting seems to weigh upon them, and there’s an unmistakeable air of ‘puppetry’ at times. Tracks like ‘Aviation’ and ‘Bad Habits’ are probably the closest thing you will find to their original sound on Everything You’ve Come To Expect. They’re the tracks that draw rapturous applause and hark back to the shaggy-haired twenty somethings who decided to do something completely new eight years ago.
The movement from their original style shines through in tracks like ‘Calm Like You’ and ‘In My Room’, there’s an energy and soulfulness that we haven’t seen before. Turner’s spine seems to dissolve as he begins to swivel around like a marionette – the perfect homage to the 70s style he seems so adamant on exuding. The pair’s encore is just as spectacularly theatrical, with Turner like a solemn teen moodily running his hand through his perfectly slicked back hair during a cover of The Beatles ‘I Want You’. The performance itself demonstrates the perfect coupling that is Turner and Kane, one that fans have been avidly awaiting for quite some time and were more than satiated with last night. Here’s hoping they don’t make us wait as long next time.
Photos by David Doyle
Review by Elaine McDonald