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A Horrorshow, Come on Down: The Horrors at Lee’s Palace, Toronto. (14/10/2009)

Faris Rotter and his gang of Horrors

The Horrors send sonic shockwaves across Lee's Palace

With Halloween just a fortnight away Lee’s Palace dished up a three course feast of tricks and treats on Wednesday night, culminating in an especially spooky main helping from English art-rockers The Horrors.

First off, as way of aperitif, came The Black Diamond Heavies from Nashville Tennessee, blasting out a deliciously raw brand of punk blues with only a dual-layered keyboard and set of drums. Their show was curiously compelling, if for no other reason than how mesmerising it was to witness John Wesley Myers somehow pound out such a full range of sounds with one set of keyboards.

But the shock additions to tonight’s appetizers were Toronto’s own hardcore punk sensation, and 2009 Polaris Music Prize winners, Fucked Up. After a lengthy wait, Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham and his cronies suddenly emerged onstage and true to form, dignified as ever, he dispensed with his shirt and began unleashing maniacal tirades down the microphone. He was impossible to contain from the start, as he came bellowing into the bewildered looking crowd, showily stamping about the place and dangling his hefty frame precariously off aptly placed amps. The motionless Horrors fans appeared particularly indifferent to any of this and, after a twenty minute set of boisterousness and bluster from very game but misjudged special guests, Fucked Up, erm, fucked off.

It was now time for the main course. As all light gradually bled from the stage there came, out of the black, Faris Rotter’s gangly silhouette, to the thunderous applause of his devoted minions below. Their hero, finally, had arrived. From then on every extravagant flail of his long limbs sent shockwaves of rapture through a crowd spellbound beneath his shadowy presence.

     Of course, this is by no means unwarranted adulation. The Horrors are no longer just some Halloween novelty act to be scoffed at with your friends. Oh no. Following on from their comically gothic (and rather too… how shall I put it? Shouty?) debut album ‘Strange House’, second album ‘Primary Colours’ has been greeted this year, somewhat surprisingly, with almost universal acclaim. By uncoiling their dark tendrils and stretching outwards to explore more colourful and hypnotic realms they have morphed, these young Londoners, into a major musical force. ‘Mirror’s Image’ and ‘Do You Remember’ are the notable highlights in a show that flies from one captivating number to the next.

     Also, these newly scaled psychedelic heights are well suited to the closed in atmospherics of Lee’s Palace. As Tomethy Furse sends his synthesised sonics booming off the walls, drenching the audience in a wave of sound that whips them into a fervour of frenzied dancing, there is Faris, standing tall, conducting it all with every convulsive crank of his lanky body. In his rather ungainly manner he sweeps his eager followers on a colourful carpet of electronics towards an encore swathed in purest black, where they are treated to first album favourites ‘Sheena is a Parasite’ and the raucous ‘Count in Fives’.

     And the audience, in the end, are indeed left counting, counting their blessings, for getting the pre-Halloween horrorshow they’d been waiting for.

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