When the UK’s biggest music stars, Ed Sheeran and Adele, have made such a virtue of their normality, it was inevitable that a band like HMLTD would come along. Six fabulous freaks boasting more make-up than a flagship branch of Boots, operating out of (where else?) east London, they’ve earned a reputation as a must-see live spectacle after just three singles.
Previously they’ve even tried to change their venue’s smell. This being their last gig before Halloween, the space was covered in white horror masks which many in the crowd wore on the back of their heads. Tights stuffed to look like piles of limbs dangled from the ceiling. An unnerving sight, as were the 10 naked people who stood, bums forward, masks backward, on stage for a few minutes before the band appeared.
They seemed an understated vision next to singer Henry Spychalski, who spent most of the evening in just leather underpants, a symbol painted in red on his shiny chest. He screamed impressively on Where’s Joanna and channelled Elvis on a new song about America, Death Drive, while conducting music that catered to the tiny attention spans of the Spotify generation.
To the Door, a galloping spaghetti western rocker that could soundtrack a Tarantino shoot-up, became a completely different song halfway through – a grinding electronic creep. Kinkaku-Ji, mostly hysterically fast electropunk, morphed into chintzy lounge music.
Such musical impatience meant they were never boring, but left them without a song that was simply good. Satan, Luella & I was the closest they came to an appealing chorus, a nasty fairytale featuring the fantastic couplet: “I met Satan in a cheap motel/She talked at length about Orson Welles.”
Once seen, never forgotten, but it remains to be seen whether these glamorous breaks from the norm can become as big as their imaginations.