Towing the line between glam-rock sensibilities and freak show chic, HMLTD’s live return to the capital was bound to be nothing short of spectacular. From the collection of naked bodies paraded onstage before the six-piece’s arrival to the entire bloodied carnivalesque interior of the Camden haunt their show proves to be more of an extravagant exhibition as opposed to a standard gig on a Tuesday night.
Opening with ‘Proxy Love’ – which has the potential to be the biggest track in the band’s back catalogue with it’s euphoric synth led trajectory – vocalist Henry Spychalski stalks the stage from the moment he steps foot on it, whipping the North London crowd into a fervour. The leather coat clad singer is writhing around in just a pair of pants by the middle of their third song, ‘Kinkaku-Ji’, wielding his microphone like it’s a weapon, stripping himself bare and surrendering himself to the art of HMLTD.
Regularly frequenting The Windmill in Brixton, for a while this sextet were South London’s best kept secret, however now backed by a major label the band have been allowed to flourish creatively and realise many of their artistic visions. Tonight, for example, is not just a live show, it’s an experience. It may sound cliché, but the minute you step through Electric Ballroom’s front door you are submerged into HMLTD’s gloriously hellish world. Haunting visuals are displayed on the wall and eerie white masks hang from every crevice of the venue – it’s weird at it’s most wonderful.
‘Death Drive’ is a thirst quenching taste of new material which demonstrates perfectly how no two HMLTD songs sound remotely similar yet each track is still quintessentially them. The plodding synths and pulsating bass vibrate inside the room as Henry informs the crowd, “this song is about America,” before a slightly reworked version of the splicing ‘Where’s Joanna?’ (minus *that* cunt lyric) draws the performance to a close. “We’ve only got one more song and then we’ll leave you...but we’ll never go away,” the singer retains by way of introducing ‘Stained’. It’s a colossal climax from a band certain to reach even dizzier heights.