of Montreal live at Koko
- By Josh Holliday -
- Apr 27, 2012
Nothing quite rekindles the exuberance of prepubescence like an of Montreal show and, irregardless of equine onstage invasions, visual splendour to accompany the avant-pop brilliance of Kevin Barnes et al. is now to be wholly expected. Their return to Mornington Crescent's one and only even slightly salubrious hangout Koko may have superficially seemed just that although hidden deep in amongst the indelible expressions of sheer jubilation etched onto each and every face and amidst enough cascading streamers to perpetuate an I'm From Barcelona world tour lies a smidgen of discomfort; the soggy gunk at the bottom of the party bag.
Barnes sniggers wickedly – and of course appositely – on forthcoming single 'Spiteful Intervention' as he yelps: "I spend my waking hours haunting my own life/ I made the one I love start crying tonight and it felt good" from beyond a lone keyboard centre stage, consequently becoming the snide party popper in the corner intent on malfunctioning freshly opened presents in vain attempt to equilibrate a crippling jealousy. Upping the ante (and the age reference) are lyrics of terrorised psyches ('We Will Commit Wolf Murder'); the perils of chemical intoxication ('Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse'); "performance breakdown" ('The Past is a Grotesque Animal') although with regard to Barnes' personal performance it is – at least from external perspective – effortlessly imperious and utterly immaculate. That is to say that whichever piece of proverbial cake he's stuffed down, its icing's seemingly laced with something to alter and quite arguably ameliorate the mind.
However from the slow-mo disco of 'Godly Intersex' to oddball glam jam 'You Do Mutilate? (Part One)' this is one heck of a celebration – tinged with substance lightly cosmic – like nothing Kool & the Gang could ever even so much as envisage. And although innumerable balloons are floated out into the open arms of the adoring slumped over the barrier a little lethargically, as though the Athens alt. stalwarts were to pack the withered latex prior to each jaunt purely out of a sense of necessity; of pandering to the preconception of their retina-scorching spectacular, the evening's irrevocably joyous.
Moreover as stimulating as it may be to see Barnes stumble about the ankles of his masked and moustached henchmen, sofa cushions stuffed down shirts, or for his asymmetric shadow to be cast upon hallucinatory swirls of what looks like ruptured kaleidoscope splurged all over the whitest of sheets it's musically that of Montreal truly beguile. 'Dour Percentage' signals a Motown resurgence as flutes and falsettos combine and, although it couldn't be much further removed from the zippy Zappa rollick of 'Suffer For Fashion', the unremitting pace of the show paired with the consistently superb, slightly lisped vocals of our omnisexual guide through the periodically weird yet perennially wonderful ensures an enviable coherency courses throughout.
It is, quite unmistakably however, the Kevin Barnes show and that even despite the evident adroitness of unfathomably gifted sometime arranger Kishi Bashi, longstanding keyboardist Dottie Alexander and the various associates of the Elephant 6 collective here conglomerated. Gradually disrobing, he ends the show topless, doused in ticker tape thus looking more Iggy Pop than Elf Power and although quite evidently still up for even the most ebullient of parties – the aftershow at nearby grot hole The Wheelbarrow is needless to say frequented – the inner child is plagued, as are we all, with ageing exterior. That may go a little way to explaining what is a slightly lackadaisical strip show in its latter stages although after nigh on two hours of relentless flamboyance (even if it may have now been toned down a touch) the energy levels required remain extreme. It's not to say that Barnes is nearing retirement nor recession from the spotlights he so patently craves; indeed he only turns thirty-eight next month.
Yet his ability to harness an unadulterated youthfulness and channel it into the rapturous likes of funk slump 'Gronlandic Edit' or smoother-than-fresh-born-face closer 'A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger' is extortionately covetable. It's almost as though J. M. Barrie left Barnes directions to the whereabouts of Never Never Land in the will and left us to longingly gaze in from the outside. However to have been let into this polychromatic, if mildly hedonistic haven for a clutch of fleeting moments seems privilege enough, for it's been one disco party you're left wishing could go on all night.
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