WE REVIEW PLASTIC MERMAIDS LIVE IN SOUTHAMPTON, WHAT HAPPENED?
Plastic Mermaids played their home county leg of their current tour promoting ‘It’s Not Comfortable to Grow’ at Southampton’s legendary Joiners Arms supported by fellow Isle of Wight residents, the excellent Froglands PK.
It’s rare you can attend a gig where the main attraction can walk through the crowd patting strangers on the back and welcoming them to the show, and even giving audience members leads to plug into their amps, but this is the world of Plastic Mermaids. Everyone is welcome into their world with little divide between the ‘rock stars’ and fans. The six members could barely fit on stage surrounded by a health n safety disaster of fluorescent cables, synths, and guitars.
Hunched and bunched together they chose to play their entire new album in full. A brave choice since the album was only released last month, but it’s a worthy one. Opening with the title track and shot through a green light, frontman Douglas Richards tethered to his keyboard to sing his robotic treated vocals, to a hushed audience waiting for the build, which is a specialism of Plastic Mermaids.
Much like Sigur Ros and Mogwai they certainly love a dramatic climax, and throughout the show, my eyes must have failed me as I couldn’t fathom how six people could create the electronic orchestration that is threaded through their latest record. When they weren’t creating musical landscapes, they had time to treat us to their more commercial-sounding tracks like ‘Girl Boy Girl’ sounding like a funkier MGMT and ‘Disco Wings’, the crowd didn’t repay the band with much energy – though Douglas pointed out that it’s a Thursday, bin day so we are excused to not be drinking.
Other highlights included the bewitching ‘Marbles’ and ‘Elastic Time’ the former with its whizzing guitars melting into synth lines backed by a breakbeat worthy of any post-gig indie- dancefloor and then later again showcasing the band epic endings, with Jamie Richards on bowed guitar.
Though there was no actual encore, due to the lack of a backstage curtain, the band delighted the fans by delivering some of the finer moments of their debut album, ‘1996’, ‘Alaska’ and ‘Intro’ a perfectly confusing final song. Many of the crowd were calling out for ‘Milk’ but alas technical gremlins had put an end to that, with so many toys on stage, including megaphones and percussion instruments made of shells, it’s amazing that the set ran so smoothly without a technician in sight. It was a privilege to witness a group of audio magicians making music on their own terms. Catch them on tour.