Glass Animals / PIXX @ The Art School, 26 October

Live Review by George Sully | 01 Nov 2016

Last seen in Glasgow earlier this year, and with a string of festival appearances in the meantime, the elfin PIXX’s growing confidence as a performer is clear to see. And as a band – brooding guitarist, punkish keyboardist ­– they’re apposite support on this tour for our headliner’s tropical grooves, rich in woozy psych jangles and the singer’s phantasmic, lightly breathed vox.

Allowing just enough time to browse PIXX’s handmade merch (all unique upcycled tees and tops), Oxford's four amigos Glass Animals soon bounce on stage to a delirious Art School welcome. Frontdude Dave Bayley’s sultry, borderline timid vocal on their studio recordings belie the band’s live energy: opening track Life Itself, from acclaimed new album How To Be A Human Being, sounds more pop than nerdy indie – and this crowd chant the 'Come back down to my knees' refrain with devout vigour.

There’s always a fear that the more ornate the compositions, the more detail will be lost in the sweat‘n’smoke of a live gig. Not so with these lads. The ludic key arpeggios on Youth, the pizzicato plucking on Black Mambo – all served deftly around Bayley’s wild moves atop the speakers. And his enjoyment is contagious – he’s all grins and closed-eyes glee, and so are we.

In many respects this is a textbook sophomore album show: a wily mix of Human Being and debut ZABA, and zero complacency from a hot-topic band with an adoring audience. The Other Side of Paradise’s trap-like woofs, Cane Shuga’s insta-banger R’n’B synths, and the deafeningly demanded encore of Season 2, Episode 3 run smartly alongside ZABA’s breakout single Gooey, and though there are the faintest hints of familiar drum lines and chord structures between the records, the total set ignites the night and ultimately leaves us charred, singed and smouldering.