Of Montreal – Live at The Academy, Manchester 05/10/2010

Review by Oliver Key

Who shot streams of sparkle and strangeness through the Tuesday night sky? Who bastardised performance art with camp disco flamboyance, only to nurture this bastard child and let it grow into a fabulous monster?

Of Montreal did, oh yes, and nanas would cry out in terror or thrill at the sight of their frontmans colourful crotch, and married men would question everything, suddenly desirous of all that they could never have, and religious folk would flee to their temples and churches.

I could never have prepared myself for the barrage of mad mischief and playful theatrics which would unfold before me as I stood amongst the dolled-up kids all jacked up on Meow-Meow and Pro-Plus, waiting for this wondrous band to take the stage. Others who had seen them before had told me that it would be all costume changes and no gender boundaries whatsoever, but truly they exceeded expectation.


The lights dropped and rose again, and out walked the band, all of them except frontman Kevin Barnes wore white with white face-paint, perhaps to provide a direct contrast to Barnes’ glorious attire.

He wore turquoise eye shadow with a matching headscarf, a frilly silk purple shirt, and on his bottom half nothing but stripy y-fronts, opague white tights, and a tiny French maids apron. Half the girls in the crowd let out a gasp and crossed their legs, the boys looked on in awe, wishing they could be quite so comfortable in themselves. I decided he was the coolest fucker in town.

Before they dropped a single song however, and this is where things get really weird, a ten-foot tuxedo’d tyrant wielding two shotguns and sporting a giant fish in a gas mask instead of a head emerged through the stage door.

The crowd went wilder than ever, I was bewildered but delighted, “What a wonderful way to start a show,” I thought to myself, but this was only the beginning.

As the band kicked off with their first twisted indie-electro delight, out scurried a zombie in kids pyjamas, fiendish and sinister. The battle that commenced between these two strange creatures was spectacular, and as the song peaked the fish-headed, gun-toting monster terminated the zombie with extreme prejudice.

From this point on it just got crazier and crazier, more monsters emerged throughout, pigs in gimp suits and chequered men handing out apples to name but two.
I was impressed by how well the band held together their set considering the fact that they hopped and swaggered and pulled shapes like I’d never seen, and that several of them could well have been really, really wired. “She’s a rejector” Was a personal favourite track of mine, Barnes’ bittersweet lyrics saved the set from being just a bunch of happy-clappy party tunes, and “Oslo in Summertime” got the fans yelling along in full force.

From the very start I couldn’t help but think their songs sounded like rather psychedelic versions of Michael Jacksons 80s era hits, and to my delight they tore out a cover of Thriller for their encore, which really couldn’t have ended the set better. This was no ordinary cover, this was Michael having admitted he is a sexual deviant with a penchant for substance abuse, and it provided a perfect peak to their camptastic, bizarrely beautiful party, which was a true pleasure to attend.

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