Credit: Christian Högstedt

The View From Far Out: Algiers continue to connect at Botanique, Brussels

In the latest View From Far Out, we’re revisiting our recent experience with one of the most courageous bands in the business, the brilliant Algiers at Brussels’ Botanique.

In describing Algiers’ music, the easiest and most immediate definition could be the simple act of labelling them with post-punk tag. But this would simply be reductive, as Algiers are a band to watch, listen and, perhaps most importantly, feel, during a concert.

The energy transmitted to the audience during their live performance is a visceral addition to the band’s message that can not be perceived by simply listening to the album.

Algiers, recalling the Algerian capital symbol of resistance to colonialism, are from Atlanta and are back again on tour to promote their third album There Is No Year, an album that is as seamlessly political as the previous two. 

After a bit more than two years, the quartet returns to the Botanique in Brussels with the same verve and drive that has propelled them throughout their career. This time, the band makes its entrance on the ‘Rotonde’ stage and without too much delay break into the eponymous track of their latest album There Is No Year. The powerful beginning set the precedent for a great show. The outburst of the instruments together with Franklin’s filtered voice is a thundering storm, a sonic clash both beyond the speed of light and heavily below it. 

The first half-hour of the concert is dazzling, after which the band provides a nice taster of the last album playing four other songs: ‘Void’, ‘Dispossession’, ‘Unoccupied’, ‘We Can’t Be Found’. Even in the most contemplative moments, Algiers prove to be prominent exponents of a fizzing genre that combines electronic music with industrial textures, to which they graft gospel hymns and thunderous soul songs to complete a sumptuous sonic experience. 

In the second part of the show, the band performed tunes from the back catalogue. In front of a hypnotized audience, the foursome alternate moments of pure adrenaline with songs like ‘Walk Like A Panther’, where Franklin James Fisher’s powerful voice singing angry screams is complemented by the solo dance skills of bassist/keyboardist Ray Mahan. It is immediately assimilated by an audience captivated by their undeniable charisma. The band continues with other gems of remarkable sound such as ‘The Underside of Power’ and ‘Cry of The Martyrs, each providing the same positive crowd reaction’. 

Without even time to breathe, the quartetare back on stage for the encore, and one of their hymns, ‘Death March’, starts. Despite the spirits possessed by Ray Mahan, Lee Tesche and the last enlisted drummer Matt Tong (formerly Bloc Party), the scene is entirely for Franklin, who is the main lead to which all the audience looks at while addressing loud claps.

Algiers are one of those few bands that still give concerts’ pure emotions, and in these times made of “musicians” bent over shiny Apple laptops, it is not a foregone conclusion that the show you see will have some real connection involved.  

The fact that their songs are wrapped with militant spirit and protest texts are elements that distinguish the band. An evoking force that is nowadays rare in the contemporary scene, which nostalgically recalls bands such as Rage Against the Machine, luckily for us this year on tour again. We are faced with a sincere band that makes music for social commitment. It is thought that becomes sound.

Algiers setlist:
There Is No Year
Old Girl
Void
Dispossession
Unoccupied
Animals
We Can’t Be Found
Blood
The Underside of Power
Liberation (OutKast cover)
Cry of the Martyrs
Walk Like a Panther
Cleveland
Hour of the Furnaces

Encore:
Irony. Utility. Pretext.
Death March

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