“Welcome to the internet – we’re live in the internet!” charismatic Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley excitedly bellows into a computer screen , the Oxford indie-pop quartet becoming the latest group to turn to virtual gigging during the strange new normal.
“We’re going to try to use the power of the internet to get something you can’t get during a show, trying to create a few different worlds that span our records,” he adds before some slick visual effects transformed their empty performance space into a vibrant, retro paradise – aka the vibrant ‘Dreamland’ world of their recent third album.
Glass Animals open with the album’s twinkling title track, its delivery tinged with a momentary sadness, especially as Bayley delivers the song’s now-eerily prophetic line, “You want everything live / You want things you can’t touch.” “It’s so sad we’re not doing this in person,” he adds at the song’s close, his heartbreak at not having an audience there in person feeling particularly marked.
Yet there was little time for sadness: as the band had pointed out earlier in the day on social media, Glass Animals fans around the world had signed up to see the livestream in their thousands – so much so that this was technically the group’s “biggest headline show to date”. As such, Bayley launches into ‘Gooey’ with his typically animated and upbeat style, bouncing energetically across the stage.
A lustrous new version of ‘Tangerine’ follow, delivered with special socially-distanced guest, Arlo Parks. Her gentle, dream-like vocals lift the song into ethereal new territory, something helped too by Drew MacFarlane and Ed Irwin-Singer joining forces on synths to create a richer electronic layer. Soon after, rappers Denzel Curry makes a surprise long-distance appearance for the excellent, psychedelic ‘Tokyo Drifting.’ Its thumping bass and audacious bass thrill, as does Joe Seaward’s typically dynamic drumming.
We’re treated to sun-kissed visuals that see the stage transform into everything from a virtual pool to a tropical paradise, the group imaginatively pushing the boundaries of what can be done in a virtual space. Sadly, a lengthy drop in the event stream follows, which proves frustrating. But, thanks to an innovative second half that surpasses the first, any tech issues are a distant memory by the set’s close.
‘Space Ghost to Coast’ and ‘Heat Waves’ sees the group joined by fans from afar – “this is as close as we’ll get to a real crowd” – Bayley laments, before beginning more emotive, stripped-back versions of fan-favourites ‘Youth’ and ‘Your Love (Déjà vu)’.
The set ends on a high with biggest hit ‘Pork Soda’, a song that would normally see fans waving pineapples in reference to its most notorious line (all together now: “Pineapples are in my head…”). However, fans commenting on the stream from home assure Bayley and co. that they are still there, still dancing, and still waving those pineapples.
This is a creative, immersive show that re-defines what can be achieved in a virtual performance space, but it’s also one where the sadness of a band missing their fans feels palpable. “Normally we’d go out in the crowd for this one and get sweaty together,” Bayley says as the gig ends, “let’s hope we’ll be back together soon.”
Glass Animals: Live In The Internet was directed by James Barnes and Produced by Globe Productions/Eagle Rock