The Polyphonic Spree with Athlete

By Andrew Future || 28 October 2002
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Pure, unadulterated, love-up cool. The 'Spree's choral pop Disney musical affair has been the talk of the town for months now. Read the first review and check out our photos from their London show.

The Polyphonic Spree and Athlete, London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Sunday 27 October

Deptford may not be Hollywood, but there's obviously a twinkle in the pavement as Athlete sparkle with a bright, magnetic energy a few light years ahead of their hometown's mix of tracksuits and chip shops. Their sound is a street blend of Coldplay and The Beta Band but with a more wide-eyed beauty and a rawer honesty. There's no wasteful pretensions, just top tunes. Athlete's fate was signed and sealed the minute they penned new single, 'Beautiful'. Infectiously melodic with a chorus of helium filled magnificence, it's released next Monday; so go and buy it. Think 'Yellow'. Yeah, it's that good.

After the concrete-cred of Athlete then, comes the stampede of Dallas' hot property, The Polyphonic Spree. It's the most fantastically grandiose affair to ever grace humble old Shepherds Bush. Place yourself in Hamley's Christmas shopping with an infinite wad of cash to the sound of Bowie playing with Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and that's pretty much what this feels like. Looking like Toploader (except there's 23 of this lot) dressed in KKK robes, they do blissfully epic Mercury Rev-esq escapes into worlds of 'Diamonds' and 'Soldier Girl's, but  The Spree's choral pop is more than just one guy and a bunch of backing singers.

Witness trombone players, flutists, percussion and a harp too. It puts grumpy old Spiritualized into place. Imagine The Flaming Lips had scored the soundtrack to The Lion King and shot Elton John in the process. That's the kind of perfection we're talking here. Frontman and 'cult leader' Tim DeLaughter, with his fuzzy grin and Sideshow Bob barnet, bounds across the stage, gushing and grinning at every turn as if he was hosting a lawn party in the Garden Of Eden.

The scale and richness of the music and performance means it's not a gig so much as a full blown musical extravaganza that just forgoes the cardboard sets and plastic storylines. Obscenely happy and unashamedly romantic, The Polyphonic Spree are doubtlessly the most unique act to be bestowed upon us in a long while. Pure, unadulterated loved up cool. Essential.


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