Upon walking in for the support act for a band, you can often find yourself with a head-scratcher. Choir of Young Believers, though, if not sonically identical to Mew, certainly share the same stable.
The enormous video rig which Mew always take on the road necessitated a few small changes in the stage set-up tonight, chief among them was the need to push the drummers against the side wall, rather than the back. Somewhat comically, this led to band members all adopting skewed angles in their stance, singing to the walls rather the crowd on occasion.
CoYB certainly knew how to push the 'impress' button tonight, their performance ranging from low-key serene passages, right up to the kind of volume sure to imprint the word "what?" on your vocabulary for the entirety of the next day.
As for Mew though, they have distilled live performance into a fine art. The video rig comprised a rear projection sheet as well as two netted frames halfway back on the stage (we honestly thought the band had invented a new holographic projection system before we figured out how they were doing it). The walls down the side of the room also played host to more subtle images, and the occasional error message too. The end result was a fully immersive experience, shooting bright lights, stars, spinning shapes and haunting talking bears as well as an assortment of dancing animals all over the Anson Rooms.
Opening with an instrumental version of "She Spider" and throwing out all manner of favourites, ("Zookeeper's Boy", "Repeaterbeater", "Snow Brigade", "Am I Wry, No", "Apocalypso") our favourite of the night was the always enthralling "156", which suddenly became resolutely clear in its meaning for us this evening. Sadly absent was "She Came Home For Christmas", but the ever-reliable "Comforting Sounds" was brought out for an encore send-off.
Jonas Bjerre still retains his ability to confound every time. In a world of lip-sync and studio trickery, it's extremely rare to find a singer who not only manages to recreate the astonishing power and pitch on their recorded work, but to excel it. During "Comforting Sounds" one person leaned to a friend and said "I thought they made that bit on guitar! He sings that?".
A welcome sense of humour was also apparent, with the band remarking in obvious brown-nosing fashion "It's very nice to see all the most beautiful people in Bristol in one room!". "Wow, he can see next door, how cool, x-ray vision" we thought back. It must be a parallel super-power which goes along with their magical musical ability.