"Are you still out there?" asks Editors frontman Tom Smith half way through the band's set at Brixton Academy. He is greeted by an enthusiastic cheer from the sell-out crowd, but the question does certainly highlight a subdued mood that has fallen upon the South London venue.
The night starts with rapturous applause greeting Editors as the house lights go down and their appearance is imminent. While the rest of the band shuffle onto the stage and wave meekly, Smith bounds into view and strikes an imperious pose at the front of the stage. Surveying his audience for the night suspiciously, he eventually signals his approval with two thumbs up.
The band start with 'Sugar', an album track off new record The Weight Of Your Love. Smith delivers his deep baritone while prowling around the stage, all mutton chops and mood swings. Bassist Russell Leetch on the other hand plays the song's heavy bass line while ambling around in a manner akin to a particularly friendly labrador who has just been reunited with its owner.
'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' is greeted with the biggest cheer of the night so far, the crowd having seemingly enjoyed the opening one/two of 'Sugar' and 'Someone Says' without having been bowled over by it.
The mood in the venue goes up and down, but settles into a low level of excitement that leads to Smith's nervous question to the crowd. It's made in jest but appears to hide anxiety about the feeling amongst the band's faithful, like an unsure lover constantly demanding positive reinforcement.
Other highlights in the main set include 'Munich' and 'Bullets', both tellingly from the band's first album The Back Room. Several songs off new album The Weight Of Your Love fall flat, including final song of the main set 'Honesty'. This leads to an awkward few minutes where an encore isn't so much demanded as politely requested. The band hurry back on stage before the trickle of people heading for the exit becomes a flood.
When the encore does come it is a massive let down. Low key songs 'Bricks and Mortar' and 'Nothing' are followed by an extended version of 'Papillon' that aims for the stars but ends up stalling somewhere over Staffordshire.
Editors leave the stage, having done their job in perfectly acceptable fashion. They do everything their fans ask of them, which frankly seems to be very little. As a live proposition they are overwhelmingly adequate. There is neither the danger of an out and out rock band like The Libertines nor the stratospheric level of musical skill of bands such as Radiohead.
Tom Smith does his best to bring a level of charisma to the stage, but he is very much alone in this task. The rest of the band play the songs, occasionally raise an arm or shuffle a foot but precious little else. Smith twists and jerks and squirms, sometimes looking like he is trying to shed his own skin. The problem is it all seems very studied, with no genuine passion for the task as hand being displayed.
The most disappointing thing about the whole spectacle is how impressed some people are by it, as if somehow these men playing over earnest songs to a decent standard is somehow the answer to the world's current woes. What is most obvious tonight, more than any other time, is that we desperately need genuine heroes back in music. We need then badly and we need them now.
Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool
Two Hearted Spider
You Don't Know Love
A Ton of Love
An End Has a Start
In This Light and on This Evening
The Racing Rats
Bricks and Mortar
Below: 11 exclusive pictures from Editors' Brixon Academy show