Whyte Horses Experience at the Barbican
Whyte Horses are an elusive musical collective who are notoriously hard to see live; in fact last night’s performance marks their second major show to date. The Whyte Horses Experience features songs from the groups album Pop or Not, and the ensemble invited guests such as Badly Drawn Boy, La Roux, Maki from the GO! Team, and the St Bartholomew’s School Choir to perform on stage with them. The younger singers were a little unexpected at first, but as creator Dom Thomas says you really can’t get more psychedelic than children. The concert felt like a bizarre mixture of a variety show, a music gig and an acid trip. And it worked!
The Whyte Horses music style can be described as psychedelic, but in reality the genre is almost impossible to identify because every number sounds so different. La Couleur Originelle, for example, reminds one of a 1960s French pop song, and The Snowfalls fits much more into the “psychedelic” and chilled category. Thomas wanted to make the “perfect record” in which every track is totally unique and various (and sometimes contradictory) sounds play off each other, and in doing so he has managed to make every tune as strong as the others because they are not trying to fit under one unifying theme. The songs are certainly hard to clarify, but they are a real pleasure to listen to and have a distinctive uplifting quality even whilst exploring melancholic subjects.
The live concert is as much about the visuals as it is about the sound, and a piece of footage had clearly been carefully selected to go with each particular track. The videos were a mixture of abstract shapes, cult-style film clips, Japanese butterfly motifs and various other mediums, which had a very artistic, avant-garde theme to them. Even the stage was artistically decorated and featured an impressive lighting set and abstract pictures.
Last night’s experience had a variety show element to it because it began with a live reading of short horror stories centred on the subjects of murder, death and ghouls. Then the audience was shown a variety of film clips, including one incredibly long piece of footage of a man climbing a very tall chimney (which ended in a psychedelic mix of fiery light), and a 70s-style anti-smoking advert featuring Star Wars characters.
Whyte Horses Experience had everything, including multi-coloured tights, sequin dresses, trippy film footage, choir children, Badly Drawn Boy and much more. Last nights show was bizarre, confusing and uplifting in equal measure, and a definite must-see if you ever get the chance.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information about Whyte Horses and future events visit here.
Watch the video for The Snowfalls here: