REVIEW: London Grammar and Mansionair at Fremantle Arts Centre


London Grammar onstage at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Picture: David Johns.
London Grammar onstage at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Picture: David Johns.

BRITISH trio London Grammar made a welcome return to Perth for the second time this year over the weekend – playing two shows at Fremantle Arts Centre over the weekend.

Sydney three-piece Mansionair set the bar high early on Sunday night, opening the evening with a magnificent set that was a perfect fit for the evening.

The band went through its synth-heavy repertoire with no small amount of passion, showcasing the band’s soaring vocals and impressive musical prowess.

Their 2016 single Easier was a set highlight, and with a debut album tipped for release in 2017, these guys are definitely one to watch.

Mansionair onstage at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Picture: David Johns.

London Grammar arrived onstage under the cover of darkness and kicked things off with Rooting For You, the superb opening track off their 2017 album Truth is a Beautiful Thing.

The track showcases lead singer Hannah Reid’s soaring vocals in a way few others do, and the decision to open the set with her voice and no instruments for the first part of the song was a strong statement of intent from the band early on.

Following on with Flickers, from the band’s debut album, the crowd was treated to the first in a series of striking backdrop imagery – introducing a much more visual element to their show than previous tours.

Three circles, one behind each band member, appeared on screen, and halfway through the song began to flicker with the instruments before each of the circles faded in and out alternatively.

London Grammar onstage at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Picture: David Johns.

The backdrop imagery was a big feature of the show as the band went through songs off both albums, including Who Am I, Wasting My Young Years, Stay Awake With Me and Hell to the Liars.

It became apparent that the imagery was designed to symbolise the continuity of life.

In a way, it could be interpreted as a beacon of optimism amidst the melancholy of most of London Grammar’s songs – particularly the latest album.

Truth is a Beautiful Thing is a “break-up” album that covers themes of betrayal and heartache – but the visual imagery of last night’s show was almost a ‘chin-up’ to the audience, letting them know that life doesn’t end after heartbreak.

Tracks from the new album were well received by the crowd, but it was hard to shake the feeling that the band was going through the motions when playing some of its older tracks early in the set.

By the time they got to the midway point though, all suggestions of this had been shaken off.

London Grammar onstage at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Picture: David Johns.

The title track from the band’s latest album curiously involved a dreamscape-style backdrop featuring two whales floating through a forest.

Hey Now, the band’s debut single, was an instant hit, while Non Believer, Sights and crowd favourite Strong – complete with a good old-fashioned singalong – rounded off the first part of the set.

Returning for a three-track encore, Reid led the trio through new tracks Bones of Ribbon and Oh Woman Oh Man, before finishing with the fun and energy of Metal and Dust.

This tour marks a significant shift in the bands live performances, doing away with the string sections and relying on a more beats-heavy sound.

However the shift has been done well, and it will be interesting to see how this plays into future releases.

The only real complaint about the set at the end of an otherwise perfect evening was that it could have been just a touch longer.