M83 at the Ogden Theatre, 4/30/12 (photos and review)By Colin St. John | May 1st, 2012 | No Comments »
Almost everything about M83 is cinematic in scope. It’s epic. It’s over-the-top. Its emotions hinge on an arc. The instrumentals are grandiose and fearless; if Ennio Morricone had relied more on synthesizers than symphonies, our vision of the Wild West might have ended up sounding like M83. And, of course, the band is — much like the early developers of film — French.
As an auteur, Anthony Gonzalez has formed an excellent cast, especially live — like at the Ogden Theatre last night. Bear with the analogy: If M83 were a film, it would share in the same decade as its name designs. At the Ogden last night, a saxophonist blazed onto the stage for bombastic solos in the vein of “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Gonzalez’s Peter Gabriel-esque voice might as well have been echoing from speakers atop John Cusack’s extended arms. When the quintet played “Reunion,” the proceedings had the feeling that they were bouncing off the walls of the halls in “The Breakfast Club.”
There’s an inherent earnestness to what Gonzalez and his M83 do; what might be considered cheesy or absurd to American audiences becomes lost in the translation of the feverish dance tunes. Gonzalez took to the center and played guitar while also manning a robust synthesizer board. His vocals were resonant and effective, if often indecipherable. (It shouldn’t be understated that M83 is a band, not just some dude tweaking knobs or lazily pushing laptop buttons.) “We Own the Night” had a magnificent build-up and ultimate boom. Many of the instrumentals were stacked for the highlight reel, the players basking in the glow of — yes, it’s a couple of years before the 1980s — illuminated glacial poles straight out of Superman’s prismatic Krypton. (Or at least Richard Donner’s vision for it.)
“Midnight City” was, of course, a highlight. It is a true pop wonder, at once catchy enough for a “Victoria’s Secret” commercial yet chock full of the kind of ominous overtones that make critics drool. “The city is my church,” Gonzalez sang, transforming the Ogden into the ultimate cosmopolitan discotheque. Dancing the night away, the Colfax crowd got lost in the music — everyone starring in the their own little movie.
Brynna McCarthy is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.