Anyone who knows me knows that Motion City Soundtrack have been my favourite band for some time now. They’ve seen me through a lot of tough times and continue to do so, so when the chance of seeing them perform my two favourite albums in London came up, I disregarded the fact that I had never set foot there in my entire life and got right on it!
Previously, the band had performed in the same ’4 Albums, 2 Nights’ format across 7 US cities, causing me to feel intense jealousy for the whole of America at that time. Now, though, I can call myself one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately I was unable to see both performances in London due to money and travel issues, but I braved the journey for one night, and I’m so glad I did.
The band opened their set at XOYO – a small venue in the heart of Islington – with Fell In Love Without You and ended the first half with Even If It Kills Me from their album of the same name. Even If It Kills Me is my absolute favourite song, therefore it was an amazing feeling to finally hear it played live. Then of course, they played all the way through from Worker Bee to The Weakends. They treated us to Skin and Bones – another of my favourites by them – and many others that I doubt I will ever hear live again, including their acoustic performance of Stand Too Close. This was a real once in a lifetime opportunity for me.
The vocals in the first half of their performance from Justin Pierre were immaculate, despite the fact that memory of his own lyrics might not have been! I suppose a band can be forgiven for not having perfect knowledge of songs they have only played live a handful of times before. For example, in the song Antonia (a song I constantly insist was written about me…) he mixed up the words and sang “I was the bride, she was the groom”… in true awkward JP fashion.
The album My Dinosaur Life carries a slightly angrier, more intense kind of sound, which Justin was able to pull off well, in fact I would say his voice sounds even better with a more rough, deeper edge to it (although nowadays he can do both in equal measures of greatness!). It seems that his voice, and the band in general, only get better as the years go by in terms of live performances. Looking back at past Motion City performances you can see just how much their vocals have improved especially. This is probably down to the ritualistic silence of the band’s lead singer in-between performances to save his vocal chords!
To fill long gaps created by equipment adjustments, Justin would discuss accidental Star Wars references within his song lyrics and tell other, strange annecdotes. Every member of Motion City is great at what they do, I especially enjoyed the intensity at which Jesse Johnson would play his synthesiser and keyboard! I didn’t even know such intensity was possible on an instrument like that! Backing vocals were also good, there was none of this fading into the ether that backing singers often do when on stage!
Unfortunately, I had to leave early to get back on my coach home before I got a chance to hear them play True Romance, a new song from their up-and-coming fifth album Go. Despite this I knew I would be able to catch them play it in Manchester the following night, so it wasn’t too much of a downer! The only thing wrong with Motion City Soundtrack’s 4 Albums, 2 Nights gig was the fact that I was far too knackered to be able to have enjoyed it fully, everything other than that was just as I had always pictured it to be…