Again, many thanks to Rabbie for allowing us to share this fantastic video from her EE archive. Five years ago Everything Everything did a very special performance of Man Alive with an orchestral ensemble in Union Chapel, Islington, London. (NME review below video)
Here’s a review of the performance from NME in January 2011:
Their orchestral collaboration unites everything beautiful and bonkers about the band
Three days before These New Puritans round off their continentally grand ‘Hidden’ tour at Paris’ Pompidou Centre, another bright young British band are getting strung-out and horny closer to home. And if the Union Chapel, unlike the French architectural wonder, doesn’t have all its pipes on the outside, it’s definitely wired for sound.
There’s something inevitably reverent about being in a church just before Christmas (especially if you’ve brought an 18-piece orchestra) and tonight glitters across the full spiritual spectrum. Guided to the right contemplative state by the sure organ-playing hands and hymnal plaints of James Black, the altar is set for the most thrilling and fun new band of 2010 to crown their year in restive, festive style.
The five come onstage looking sharp as hell, in shirts newly bought and ironed just for tonight. Already they can barely conceal their smiles, and as ‘Schoolin” rings up into the vaults, the audience are soon beaming right along with them. The novelty of hearing these songs transforming themselves before you, teasing stings replacing the “da da da da da” bit, jubilant brass romping all of it, draws gasps and giggles from the pews, as golden lights range across jutting buttresses and a frankly enormous tree.
‘Leave the Engine Room’ is tender and beautiful, Jonathan expiating our original sin as his croons, “I’ll tell you a secret about yourself/Your father was bad, his father was bad…” The vocal control is masterful, but the most impressive thing tonight is there’s no sign of nerves, just a happy confidence in having made something quite brilliant happen.
And it’s so fun! In comparison with ‘Hidden”s brutal grandeur, the Man Alive Ensemble experience is playful, skippy, bright. Perhaps that’s why they chose not the play the album in order, to offset any sense of reverence (or maybe just because a band who only have one album playing that album ‘in full’ just seemed daft). The moment in ‘Come Alive Diana’ when Jonathan croons “simultaneously wired” and that massive chorus whacks back in with a herald of horns is laugh-out-loud brilliant. During a beautiful ‘Two for Nero’, the “make a child in a forest” refrain flickers through red light before the horn and violin players join in, grinning, with the vocal harmonies, the latter charmingly singing into their pick-ups.
‘MY KZ, UR BF’ is inevitably massive, though you can’t help feeling the lighting guys missed a trick when it gets to the “lights all failed” bit. ‘NASA Is on Your Side’, perhaps one of their most moving moments, swelling and rippling through the space with Jonathan on piano, before he again addresses the crowd, summing up EE’s combination of silly and serious perfectly. “Thank you very much for coming to this ridiculous thing that we’ve done… we’re very proud.” Y’know what? So are we.