Everything Everything have done nicely out of being all things to all men, a hyperactive fusion of styles and sounds that makes the Manchester band one of the stranger groups to fill the prestigious courtyard of Somserset House. They lined up on stage like the standard guitar-bass-drums indie combo, but changed outfits like pop favourites, with singer Jonathan Higgs spending most of the show sporting a comic book supervillain’s cloak. His voice, too, leapt from an angry bark to a frantic falsetto, making crowd participation far harder than usual.
The songs from their third album, last year’s top 10 release Get to Heaven, were inspired by the rolling news cycles of 2014 and Higgs’s increasing despair at the terrorist atrocities that piled on with barely a pause. The appearance of a Chinook helicopter overhead during the tense stomp of Regret could have been an exceptionally expensive bit of stagecraft. The singer has spoken of his depression while he kept the news channels playing, and must find it even harder to switch off at the moment. Yet he made a decent fist of playing the upbeat frontman, asking “Are you guys up for a good time tonight?” and dedicating the energetic dance-funk of Distant Past to “all the ladies”.
Both Higgs’s difficult to decipher singing style, and a firm grasp of pop melody, made the songs far more palatable than they might have been to a politics-weary nation. The song Get to Heaven featured whistling, light choppy guitar and a sparkling chorus. No Reptiles was just as bright, despite jittery rhythms and a bizarre chorus about “a fat child in a pushchair”.
Throughout the evening they trod a fine line between inspiring and irritating, but were always interesting. Credit to them for getting bigger without dulling down their many edges.