The French have a longstanding history of producing high-quality electronic music, from Jean-Michel Jarre through to Daft Punk, via Air and Justice. Having risen through the ranks over the past 15 years, M83 sit comfortably between them all.
But to simply describe their sound as electronic would be an understatement. In contrast to his early work in a duo with Nicolas Fromageau, who has since moved on, frontman Anthony Gonzalez – born in France, based in Los Angeles – now tours with a full band. They are an outfit made of pop, rock, shoegaze, funk, jazz and ambient sounds, sewn together with his trademark synth layers.
The neon lights on stage highlight a closeknit team of instrumentalists: guitarist Jordan Lawlor throws himself into every note played, recently appointed keyboardist Kaela Sinclair cements her position with style and finesse, drummer Loic Maurin is understated yet integral and saxophonist Joe Berry relentlessly exhales for full effect.
The majestic arrangements of Outro, which closes the main set, would surely make Sigur Ros take note
Tonight’s show at the Ritz in Manchester follows an applauded performance the night before at Glastonbury, where they headlined the John Peel Stage while Adele wailed love ballads over on the Pyramid Stage.
The rousing chants of Reunion lift the crowd immediately, followed by the mellow groove of recent single Do It, Try It – from their latest album, Junk – which nods gently towards a number of their peers. The show continues with its uplifting spirit throughout, irrespective of the sounds explored – the hip-swaying pop hooks displayed on Road Blaster are as enjoyable as the majestic arrangements of Outro, which closes the main set and would surely make Sigur Ros, who headlined the John Peel Stage themselves on the Friday evening, take note.
Guest vocals from French-Vietnamese singer Mai Lan allow Gonzalez some time away from the spotlight. She performs three tracks from Junk, easily commanding her audience with the infectiously fun countdown chorus of Go!
Unsurprisingly, Midnight City receives the greatest response from adoring fans in the former dancehall. The band’s breakthrough hit from the album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in 2011 helped M83 extend their fan base to a new demographic.
Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun ends the three-song encore. It is one of the songs played tonight that pre-date Gonzalez’s commercial success, a reminder that his winning formula had been calculated long before the music of M83 reached the masses.