It seems that Mew are finally starting to get the level of recognition that they deserve, playing the bigger Academy 2 this time round it can't be far off being sold out. It's quite a step forward in the six months since I last saw them playing upstairs in the smaller Academy 3, due in no small part to an excellent second album ('And The Glass Handed Kites').
A lengthy intro tape precedes their arrival and when they do finally take to the stage it's to healthy applause, which increase as the crowd recognises the elongated intro to set opener and recent single 'Special'. It isn't until half way through the opening track that the vocals are given the correct volume in the mix but when they do it's to immediate effect. Musically Mew sound raw tonight, the guitars are discordant and harsh and the bass and drums are thumping and to the fore.
As a visual experience there is always plenty going on, of the band Johan in particular gets straight into it, whilst they are backed by a succession of impressive (yet dark and rather disturbing) films. The bigger stage allows the band to use the projections to maximum effect and with each film tailored to the song it backs ('Am I Wry' in particular), it is a highly impressive show. There is the odd occasion when the films don't quite work, most notably in ' Why Are You Looking Grave' when the head of J.Mascis pops up right on cue for his vocal part! Somewhat comical but a minor distraction from the main business in hand. Whilst often dark and atmospheric, Mew can be soaring and uplifting in equal measure and this is perfectly illustrated with an excellent rendition of 'White Lips Kissed', which is almost as beautiful live as it is on record.
Highlights for the enthusiastic crowd come with an outstanding 'Apocalypso' and 'She Came Home For Christmas', which receives the biggest reaction of the night. Not far behind though is what we are told will be the next single in 'Zookeepers Boy', complete with giraffe projections it's one of the highlights of the album and translates to the live setting with ease.
Mew have once again demonstrated just how good a band they are, they have a quirky uniqueness that is totally refreshing and whilst in the long term that may limit their appeal amongst the fickle majority of the brainwashed public, tonight it seems that the fan base isn't ready to stop growing just yet!