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You will have probably heard of M83 even if you think it’s a motorway near Liverpool. Their single Midnight City (a former beat of the week) has been everywhere, from Made in Chelsea to the BBC’s Olympic promotional montages. Slightly more esoterically, anyone familiar with Travis Rice’s snowboard videos will recognise some of M83’s work, as Rice jumps off cliffs, kicks up super slow-motion sprays of powder and lands improbable tricks in the backcountries of North America. They’ve been around for a while, but 2011’s ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ lifted their status enough to grant the French band a headline spot at Somerset House’s outdoor summer series, which I nipped along to on Monday evening.

The fading evening light and the neo-classical courtyard complemented their atmospheric electronic Indie style. The Union Jack that flew high upon the South façade appeared to obey the mood of the gig; flapping con gusto during the heavier parts and lying peaceful and redundant during the quieter moments. The band takes its name from a numerically named far away galaxy and you have to say that the name suits the timelessness and sense of mystery that their film score style music creates. The ambiance reminded me of seeing Sigur Ros a few years ago in the Arras Main Square Festival and I think you can safely point out a few similarities between both bands.

They started with Intro from ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’, the female vocal of which had the effect of hushing the crowds. The band reacted with a look of, ‘Right, now we have your attention, let’s begin’. The charismatic guitarist who I thought looked a bit like a curly haired Rafa Nadal (in the loosest sense of look-a-likes) and I’m being too lazy to look up what his actual name is, had a most unique style of dancing which comprised of a vigorous on-the-spot moonwalk as he smashed the crap out of an electronic drum.

In this joke of a summer it politely didn’t even rain for the duration of the gig. Even if it had I don’t think it would have ruined the overall effect.

After playing Midnight City before the encore, they returned to the stage and finished with the masterful Couleurs, a ten-minute organised electronic jam if such a thing can exist. The choreography included more frenetic moonwalking with the added effect of green and blue backlights, which silhouetted the band as they brought the show to a close.

By Edward Lines

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