Picture Courtesy of the Guardian. Image available at https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/10/mgmt-review-wallpaper-pop
A little outside of my normal listening habits I visited the sumptuous architectural splendour of Somerset house to see MGMT playing as part of their summer season.
If Heineken were to organise gigs then this would probably be it. Very orderly drinks queues, with smiling bar staff and toilets that were pristine and had an in/out queuing system, which in reality meant no queueing.
It’s a very pleasant venue and doesn’t get too packed despite being sold out.
Support was provided by “Cola Boyy”, which seems to be a kind of invention of the band, the backing tracks for the singer being very MGMT esque. The vocalist was a little bit more emotionally charged in his delivery than MGMT turned out to be later in the evening.
MGMT came onstage at 9 and launched into the title track off the latest album “Little Dark Age”. They followed this up later in the set with “Me and Michael “which I think are the two singles that have been lifted from the album, and certainly the more identifiable tracks.
The set was interspersed by a few of the killer tracks such as “Kids” (their last but one track in their set)and “Time to Pretend “and “Electric Feel “which as you can expect elicited the highest levels of crowd reaction. One observation is that it was a little difficult to tell how much of the performance was really live. Maybe that’s down to the nature of their sound, the professionalism of the backing band or the sound levels in the auditorium .In essence they don’t generate much excitement live.
It was very chilled and the audience was appreciative but restrained ,apart from a couple near me who were on something hallucinogenic quite clearly and were seeing a different show to myself , still planted in the real world. With a reference to plants the stage had random plastic foliage strategically placed. The Guardians review of the evening unhelpfully suggested that the plants had more charisma than the key members of MGMT.
They also played some acoustic numbers which slowed the audience down into a comatose state before launching into more up-tempo tunes culminating in “Kids”. As the last official song in the set.
The vibe was “peace and love” and laid back tranquil navel gazing which would have been enhanced if the weather had held its nerve and continued in current drought mode. But on this evening it was relatively cool with a strong breeze. Not what we are really used to.
Having not heard their third album and barely conversant with the latest “Little dark Age “many of the songs were indistinguishable in the live setting. Reviewing social media comments suggest the latest album is their best, although I would suggest it’s not as synth pop oriented as “Oracular Spectacular” The more recent songs are arguably more mature and have abandoned the swirling Wurlitzer synth sound of the first two albums. So it’s a bit more subtle and nuanced which again got a little lost on the breeze.
The Guardian summed the event up,” MGMT are struggling to compel even the faithful standing at the front of the stage, in danger of being drowned out by distracted audience chatter”. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/10/mgmt-review-wallpaper-pop
I was hoping for a chilled out experience against the backdrop of a warm setting sun. What I got was bland and disappointing. It was a shame as the chance to see these guys in such an intimate space is unlikely to occur again.