The Antlers @ The Lexington, October 2009I’ll admit to being worried on the way to seeing The Antlers at Scala last night. Worried on two counts: firstly, I never thought they would come close to replicating the fragility and scope of ‘Hospice‘ live (their stripped down performance on Pitchfork.tv did little to assuage this) and secondly because I was running on a hangover and 3 hours sleep and was concerned I’d nod off somewhere around ‘Atrophy’.

These fears soon disappeared.

‘When we get home we’re bigger strangers than we’ve ever been before | You sit in front of snowy television, suitcase on the floor’

Peter Silberman and co played an extraordinary gig last night, one of the best I have ever seen, and far from struggling to re-create the effect of ‘Hospice’, the record sounded even better live.

From the wall of sound that slowly crept up on Silberman’s haunting vocals in opener ‘Kettering’ to the last reverberations from Darby Cicci’s complex synth/keys set-up at the end, I was spellbound. Clearly the Pitchfork performance was somewhat stripped back: this was The Antlers presented in widescreen and technicolor . Where his vocals are sometimes lost in the record’s frustratingly uneven production, live Silberman soared above his own frenzied guitar and gave as good as he got from Cicci and Lerner.

The Antlers at The Lexington, October 2009

Photos courtesy of Valerio Berdini

Surely the heir to Jeff Buckley, Silberman’s live performance has an astonishing mixture of precision and sheer force so that on the pained, screaming refrains of tracks like ‘Bear’ (‘We’re too old/We’re not old at all’) and ‘Wake’ (Don’t ever let anyone tell you: ‘You deserved that”) it is both heartbreaking and spectacular to witness.

On the whole the songs were opened up and given further room to expand than they are afforded on the album with the majority moprhing into extended riffs furiously built up by Silberman and Cicci and backed by rolling military drums from Lerner (who spent the performance almost in ecstasy) that are lost in the mix on the record.

They played ‘Hospice’ almost in it’s entirety as well as a fantastic new song and a beautiful cover of ‘VCR‘ by The xx. ‘Godspeed meets Buckley’ was how James described it and he was spot on.

Get hold of ‘Hospice’ any way you can and dig out Silberman’s solo Antlers EP ‘In The Attic of The Universe’ whilst your at it; catch them anywhere you can this summer and see for yourself.

W

The Antlers – Kettering

The Antlers – Two

The Antlers – Bear

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