Destroyer @ Heaven, London 28.06.11

Dan Bejar of Destroyer has had an illustrious career (and hair) playing for the likes of The New Pornographers, Swan Lake and Hello, Blue Roses, not to mention Destroyer - the cult status band who graced London club Heaven last week. With their latest release Kaputt, the Vancouver septet have created a lush and billowy haze of '80s synths, permeated by horns and saxophone over the conventional guitar set up. It's a style the frontman himself has described as "European Blues" and whom others have compared to the likes of David Bowie.

Jun 28th, 2011 at Heaven, London / By Melanie McGovern
Destroyer Opening with latest album opener 'Chinatown', in a set comprised of the vast majority of songs from this near flawless new release, they eased into a performance that was almost too laid back and yet in spite of this musically spot-on perfection. Frontman Bejar, dressed in grubby white shirt and trousers, unkempt hair sprouting manically, seemed almost uncomfortable in his role as mainman at times, as he crouched in the shadows drinking. It was hard to tell if this was his usual appeal, he still had a sort of stage presence despite his uncertainty, however glancing over videos and reviews of live performances from a few years past, it seems something was a bit off that night. Not least for his interaction - or lack there of - with the audience. This is how, despite such deft musical abililty - Joseph Shabason on the saxophone was by far the highlight of the evening - the evening as a whole had a kind of "watching a really great band at a New Year's Eve Party" sort of vibe to it. Brilliant and surprising, but who too felt like nobodies. The difference in this case is they really weren't. A quick glance around the arch space of Heaven showed shoegazing listeners, others with immeasurable appreciation on their faces - they knew who they were hear to see.

It was the band really who it felt held it all together, flawless in their soft rock grooves. Too there were nice fluttering with earlier material, often much heavier and more drums centric than this dozed calm of their recent outputs. One older track, '3000 Flowers' saw Bejar produce a sheet of paper, from which he sang - a symbol of mirth perhaps at the often befuddled presence of this man onstage, or perhaps a further indication of just how far removed his interaction was from the audience. It would have felt like a studio rehearsal were it not for the spot on perfection of most everything else that was witnessed: easy, woozy, dreamy vocals, effortless and still captivating. Overall the evening was an indie pop-acid jazz hybrid of retro sax solos and horn infused blues. A great performance that somehow missed that personable oomph.