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Live Review: Officers
London, HMV Forum
By personal request of The Man himself, York’s OFFICERS have found themselves awarded the sole support on Gary Numan’s much-lauded ‘Machine Music’ tour. Having had to build a live band around the core duo of Matt Southall and Jamie Baker, the – normally – studio-based band are undergoing somewhat of a trial by fire, road testing their current incarnation under the critical gaze of Numan’s notoriously partisan audience. Appearing on stage to minimal fanfare, and dressed exclusively in black, OFFICERS waste little time in getting down to business. Kicking off with ‘Disarm’, the lead track from their acclaimed ‘On The Twelve Thrones’ debut, it’s built around a hypnotic vocal mantra and soon builds into a brilliant percussive maelstrom before the decadent sex throb of ‘Co-Education’ works its sultry charms, the live drums adding a primal edge to the insistent electro-grind. It’s a song about sex. And machines. And if there are two subjects liable to get this crowd going then OFFICERS have it nailed; feedback cuts across the track, bathing it in a beautiful chaos that seems wildly appropriate for the occasion.
That they’re bathed almost entirely in darkness, what little lighting OFFICERS have only accentuates their life in shadow, travelling a world of half-light and half-truths.
‘Good Day (To Die)’ slows things down, allowing Southall the opportunity to throw Messianic shapes – half-man, half-Bobby Gillespie – sacrificing himself in the name of loss so that we don’t have to, a perfect visual accompaniment to the punchy ‘Afraid Of Your Love’, another rhythmic tour de force that compels heads to nod and bootys to be shaken.
The infectious buzz of ‘Mosquito’ examines the previously unimagined delights of a symbiotic, parasitic love and allows guitarist Baker to claim the rear of the stage as his own, guitar angled to the heavens, lost completely in his torturously wrought performance. Closing their set with the somewhat downbeat ‘Soul Saviour’, the track grows and grows, losing none of its complexity or nuance here in the live setting, and culminates with anebullient Southall repeatedly intoning “I feel alive.” And it would appear that the feeling is mutual as OFFICERS walk off to near-rapturous applause, this rare glimpse of their live potential hopefully means it won’t be too long before we see them back on the road.
Words: GILES MOORHOUSE
Photo: ED FIELDING