Sylvan Esso – O2 Shepherd’s Bush, London, UK (8th November 2017)

There’s a moment where live music becomes truly alive. And that’s where Sylvan Esso come in.

Formed in the moment when producer Nick Sanborn tuned an old broken synthesiser to match the pitch of Amelia Meath’s voice, they’ve been described as an electronic band duo searching for “the light of humanity in an overly stimulated world”.

So it’s human, not machine, that blazes the path in their music and live performances. Their electropop songs are vibrant with voice, pitch and harmony, always seeking new ways for the human to tune the machine.

And in their live shows, this vitality forms a massive part of their stage presence. The second their performance at O2 Shepherd’s Bush begins – the first stop on their sold-out UK tour – Nick is bristling with untempered kinetic energy.

Together on stage, Amelia and Nick are like two hypnotic electric eels caught in the current; both of them dancing, contracting and convulsing, at one with the twisting and turning vocals and acutely timed lighting, shifting dynamics to match the bigger, bolder songs like ‘Die Young’ and ‘Radio’. It’s oddly satisfying how Nick’s airy glitch pop matches with Amelia’s irresistibly earthy, grounded voice. Their electropop is tangible, an extension of the body.

The bond between performer and audience normally has a sense of gravitas – we’re ‘performed at’ behind their incorporeal fourth wall. So it’s a breath of fresh air when Amelia easily breaks through this. She kneels down to sing to the front row, makes eye contact with the photographers, enjoys talking to the crowd, and even in the breaks between songs she never stops dancing. Sylvan Esso is less like two strangers up on stage, and more like being at a party where your best friend jumps up on a table and starts dancing.

More organic connection than aloof ceremony, Sylvan Esso are making songs and performances that refuse to be impersonal. Their music is living and breathing, and Amelia and Nick are just as absorbed in its capacity to grow and express itself as we are.

The UK leg of the Sylvan Esso tour is sold out, but Liverpudlians are in luck; you can catch them this Friday 10 November at the Arts Club, Liverpool.

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