The Antlers – Live

The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 18/11/2009 
By Andy Oskwarek

The indie fashionista are out in full force as Brooklyn based act, The Antlers, roll into Manchester on the back of a wave of hype and critical acclaim for their current album ‘Hospice’. It’s a beautiful and haunting record, which masterfully explores themes of guilt, grief and isolation, with songwriter and frontman Peter Silbermans heartfelt and often fragile vocals perfectly combining with layers of ambient noise to create a work which is both emotionally charged and anthemic. 

As a live proposition it would be easy for The Antlers to buckle under the weight of the serious and sombre tones of ‘Hospice”s heartbreaking narrative, particularly without the aid of fuller instrumentation and studio layering. Thankfully, however, they manage to take the material and recreate it as an engaging and at times joyous spectacle, without sacrificing its poignancy or credibility. 

Silberman, backed by keyboard and drums, arrives onstage to a full house who are swiftly silenced by the gentle piano introduction and delicate vocals of opener ‘Kettering’, but it’s only halfway through the track when the drums, distorted guitars and vocal harmonies drop in that the first sign of The Antlers more muscular and expansive live sound is revealed. 

Second song ‘Sylvia’ carries on where ‘Kettering’ left off, and as it reaches it’s chorus, Silberman, with eyes closes and guitar swinging wildly seems unrestrained for the first time as he bursts into falsetto, and it quickly becomes clear just how strong his voice really is. 

From here on in the shackles are off, and the band manage to create a colossal amount of noise for a three piece. Recent single ‘Bear’ draws rapturous applause from an enthusiastic audience and ends with Silberman on his knees creating a wall of feedback, while set highlight ‘Shiva’ builds to a skyscraping climax matching the anthemic intensity of any post-rock act. 

By the time ‘Epilogue’ draws proceedings to a close with its nursery rhyme like keyboard chimes, it’s hard not to feel moved. In many respects the story of tonight’s show is one of contrasting emotions. It’s impossible to forget the darker side of the human psyche which The Antlers have portrayed with such conviction, but at the same time through sheer energy and their skilful manipulation of the songs arrangements, they have successfully created an atmosphere that’s altogether more uplifting.

Reviewers Rating 

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