Published Nov 13, 2011With each successive album, the ambitions of M83's Anthony Gonzalez have only got grander and grander. So it was no surprise when the French musician revealed that this year's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming would be sprawling double album in the vein of Smashing Pumpkins' over-the-top epic, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It's fitting then, that with this reach-for-the-stars attitude, Gonzalez would want to bring with him a bigger than big stadium-ready live show. And for his sold-out Vancouver stop, he pulled it all off, with only the occasional hitch.
Draped in a backdrop on twinkling starlight, Gonzalez and co. hit the stage to a stellar start, presenting a brief cameo from Hurry Up's monster-suited cover star before kicking into the album's slow-building "Intro." Like for many of the tracks, the group's majestically voiced Morgan Kibby added in the harmonies (in this case for an absent Zola Jesus), as the four-piece quickly proved that they now come with a newfound confidence not seen at their Vancity stop a few years back.
No longer did Gonzalez hide himself behind layers of self-conscious awkwardness, with it now clear he's gunning to fill that rock star role. Wailing away on a guitar and a spread of electronics, the group's main man did all the prereq moves: lifting his axe to heavens, getting into six-string showdowns, bending a knee to rock the solos. And while, live, the tracks did lose some of that on-record sonic lustre, Gonzalez and the band gelled wonderfully, culling the bulk of their set from the band's last pair of albums. This led to live stabs at tracks like "Kim & Jessie," "We Own the Sky" and "Reunion," and to keep things interesting, M83 frequently revamped, reworked and refashioned several of the songs, as every good live band should.
However, the show was not without flaws, mostly due to some poor choices in the song selection department. The band frequently went into ballad mode, often destroying the momentum with tracks like the Coldplay-y "Wait" and the overdramatic Kibby-led "Skin of the Night." Also, the night's most-anticipated moment, "Midnight City," failed to pack the same chill-inducing punch as the recorded version, with no saxophone -- or Victoria's Secret angels -- making an appearance.
Still, M83 did the stadium rock gods proud, even if they did close on the thumping Euroclub-styled number "Couleurs." If Anthony Gonzalez's goal was to take M83 to the max, well, he's finally getting there.