LIVE: Motion City Soundtrack – 4 albums in 2 nights at XOYO

By Tom Aylott

Well, colour me wrong about Album Shows. I didn’t enjoy Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Bleed American’ / ‘Clarity’ shows half as much as I though I would (the ‘Clarity’ tracks sound better mixed into the set), and I hold a much different opinion to seemingly 99% of people about Andrew WK’s ‘I Get Wet’ show in London recently (it’s not an album that suits performance in full). They were definitely impressive and great fun respectively, I guess I just didn’t “get” it as much I expected to and it drowned my faith in the recent glut of “album shows” a little further. It may just have been that I’m still angry that I never got to see the Rx Bandits do theirs (too far away) and to my knowledge Lostprophets don’t seem sold on doing ‘fakesoundofprogress’ and ‘Start Something’ in full just yet (million dollar idea, guys). Still, I was hoping with an open mind that Motion City Soundtrack could restore the faith with two nights and four albums at one of the most “East London” places in East London, XOYO.

A few weeks back Ceremony tore XOYO a new one and the sound wasn’t great, but on both nights Motion City Soundtrack sounded immaculate – helped no doubt by the fact that there was no support band. It took the band a little bit of effort to get things going on ‘I Am The Movie’ on night one, but the slightly jittery start was confined to the past quickly by the sheer quality of the overall performance. There’s obvious standouts on every album, but when you get to see  Motion City Soundtrack spin through them in order, you realise just how excellent the back catalogue they have is, and the effort they seemingly put into the live show puts many bands far bigger than them to shame.

As the band plowed through ‘Commit This To Memory’ after a short break, it dawns on everyone that it’s a very special thing that’s being done here. The crowd aren’t particularly animated, but there’s  smiles everywhere and no doubt with anyone that the band are still very much at their live performance peak. Justin Pierre’s on-stage banter has always been excellent, but in a small venue like XOYO, he’s able to interact directly with the crowd. In short, if you loved those albums, you couldn’t have wished for a better performance from the band, even if the venue has its negative points (those being that it’s a little pricey and full of arm crossers). The band come back on for a one song interlude, the live debut  of the lead single from forthcoming album ‘Go’, ‘True Romance’, and though the atmosphere wasn’t always quite electric on night one, it was an excellent evening nonetheless.

Night two really was more of the same (in the best way possible), and the performances of ‘Even If It Kills Me’ and ‘My Dinosaur Life’ both produced some unique moments, particularly from the hidden gems at the back end of both records. Many people at XOYO for night two were at the first night as well, and it seemed they may have put away a few extra beers before they arrived; the atmosphere was amped up from night one  (which was surprising, in a way), and the singalongs just got louder and louder.

The highlight of the second night was easily ‘The Weakends’, which was a perfect closer and a truly rare treat. It also summed up the two nights well. Motion City Soundtrack playing songs that fans rarely get to hear (if at all), and reminding everyone just how consistent they are is something no one can complain about, at all. After watching the four albums in full live, how innovative they are with their music hits hard – the band are very rarely repetitive in their writing and always incredibly easy to sing along to. Permission is asked to do the same encore as the night before (to much applause) and tonight’s rendition of ‘True Romance’ brings bigger singalongs than the night before (thanks Spotify). The two nights leave everyone baying for the release of ‘Go’, and produces a great tip for bands that have four albums and are getting ready to release their fifth – if you want everyone to buy your next album, remind them how great the last four were by playing them very well back to back in a club venue, fucking loud.