Frontman Murray Lightburn has been compared vocally to both Damon Albarn and Morrissey. Like Morrissey, Murray is not afraid to express himself. Even in the twenty-first century, “the music press won’t ever allow a black “frontman” to truly thrive unscathed in the rock’n’roll arena”. Whatever the world has thrown at the dears over the last 25 years, they have never sold out. Their advice to “listen and act on your instincts and ignore almost everything and everyone else” is the greatest gift a band can give to their fans and humanity.
Excluding an album signing and one London show earlier this year, The Dears have not toured the capital for over five years. With the releases of Times Infinity Vol 1 and 2, drawing influences from No Cities Left, both offer a dense listen, with a drama of guitars and percussion; there were high expectations. The Dears creative enthusiasm hasn’t waned. “Some days your head hits the pillow at 4 a.m. When you’re driven, time can really fly.”
From the beginning of the ninety-minute set, Murray showed himself to be a true leader. The rest of the band didn’t dare to begin playing without Lightburn’s cues. The Dears rocked up their studio sound. Gang of Losers influences could be felt throughout their wider song collection. This sound was delivered without any loss to the depth of their trademark sensitive and complex arrangements, or vocal and lyrical interpretations; which haunt, prompt analysis and even existential crisis. Suspicion is often cast when artists’ rock up their most sensitive and poetical works; which often fail miserably. The Dears didn’t; they won and evolved.
On new songs such as I’m Sorry That I Wished You Dead, you could feel Natalia Yanchak’s emotions, and the message she aimed to get across. “You can feel these horrible thoughts, but that doesn’t mean you have to do anything about them, you have to find a way to deal with it, in a way that brings peace to you and peace to your relationships.’ Despite the acting out of demons, The Dears also offered more therapeutic and relaxing, even loin moving musical overtones with their new material. Taking it to the Grave started with a cool chilled out coffee bar ambience before the God-fearing guitar riffs took effect. 1998 offered the upbeat drumming reminiscent on The Strokes classic Last Nite; whilst the guitar riffs showed familiarity with George Harrison’s Something. After a classic Dears dark start, I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall offered catchy and almost mainstream funk guitar.
The Dears showed they still had stamina as they played late into the night. Speaking earlier this year, they said “all lights are out by 9:30 pm in our house. Zzzzzzz.” Their curfew was successfully broken. With the exception of No Cities Left LP being slightly under-represented, an underrated album which arguably belongs in the rock’n’roll hall of fame; The Dears from start to finish gave a phenomenal live performance. The Dears exceeded their goals of remaining “faithful” and had “maximum effect on the audience”.