TVD Live Shots: Editors at Wembley Arena, 2/28

It was 2005 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. I was living there and working for Sony Music at the time. Each year there is one band that everyone is talking about, and it ends up being the must-see band of that year. In 2004 it was Franz Ferdinand, and rightfully so. In 2005 it was Editors, and the reputation for SXSW hipsters predicting the next big thing was well intact.

I remember the band playing six or seven shows, maybe even more across that week in Texas. From the private parties to the showcases and the label specific events and interviews, these guys were about to be run into the ground while taking advantage of the music industry elite all in the same place at the same time, while also laying the foundation for a strong US launch.

For a UK band, this was becoming increasingly difficult and still is today. Travis, The Hoosiers, Toploader, My Vitriol, Mew—these are some of the incredible bands that were supposed to be breakout artists in the US. Most of them were hyped up and could deliver on the hype, but you had major labels signing up British bands left and right in an attempt to mimic their European success in the US.

What they would learn very quickly—and at a high cost—is that these audiences are vastly different and what one embraces, the others many times ignore. The trick is to stick to your guns and be consistent with making great music through all the ups and downs. And that’s something that Editors have done incredibly well, and some would say they’ve written the playbook for success down this avenue.

Granted I haven’t seen the band play live in almost 15 years but I’ve followed them closely and watched them avoid burnout and evolve into an industry powerhouse. This powerhouse is much more successful across Europe in comparison to the US, but that’s not the point. The point is they are still making music that matters and not doing it based on the false guidance of an irrelevant major label.

Having missed them numerous times since moving to London due to my travel schedule, the stars aligned for their show at Wembley Arena as they tour in support Black Gold, the magnificent best-of collection (including three new songs). And yeah, you read that correctly, fucking Wembley Arena! And it was visibly packed to the rafters. (Note that the back of the arena was closed off, but still, this is a massive place and I’m guessing the biggest show they’ve played in London in years, at least since I moved here four years ago.)

Editors have always had this post-punk mystique to them. Their songs are expertly crafted stories layered over post-punk synthed-up jams. The results are quite unique in the sense that one could see them as a bit depressing, while others hear them as anthems for the quiet yet brilliant underdogs. To get this music, you have to get life.

“Tons of Love,” “Papillion,” “Bullets,” “Sugar” all sounded fantastic. The first two albums made up the majority of the set, and rightfully so, and they closed out the night with “Munich” and “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors” respectfully.

The latest song, 2019’s “Frankenstein” was the highlight of the set for me. This is the band at their best and hopefully a preview of what’s to come on the next record. They’ve moved past the obvious Joy Division and Interpol comparisons with a pivot into a bigger, more bombastic groove that doesn’t sound like the theme song for the upcoming apocalypse. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dark stuff as much as the next fan, but the energy in Wembley Arena was on another level when they played this track. Bravo Editors, turn it up, keep it dancey, and don’t lose the genius post-punk edge that got you here in the first place.

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