Gig review: Wild Beasts - Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh

THE Lake District’s Wild Beasts find beauty in the most unconventional things. “Edinburgh is the most romantic city in the UK,” one of them pointed out to us without controversy, although he also noted: “I find Birmingham a romantic city, in all seriousness.”

It’s an attitude which might also apply to the band’s music. They use guitars, drums and keyboard – a combination responsible for so much unloveliness in the by-the-numbers leading edge of today’s music market – yet produce something truly unexpected and resonant.

After three high-quality albums it’s not unreasonable to expect that the quartet (now a live quintet with the addition of keyboard player Katie Harkin, once of the band Sky Larkin) might follow the same slow but irresistible rise to arena status once undertaken by Elbow or Snow Patrol. This show was a procession of fondly recognised songs including We Still Got the Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues, Hooting & Howling and fiery encore All the King’s Men, yet there’s something ethereal and hard to pin down about Wild Beasts.

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From the spectral vocal parts shared by Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming to Chris Talbot’s loud but hypnotic drum beats (even with Harkin playing alongside him during Lion’s Share), the group didn’t impose upon us with rousing identikit choruses of the kind used on “best bits” reality television montages.

Instead, in their polite musicianship and the dense, atmospheric instrumental of fitting finale End Come Too Soon, there was more the sensibility of Radiohead, of a band who will create trends rather than enslave themselves to them.

Rating: ****