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Review/ Maribou State @ Bristol O2 Academy

'A major virtue of Maribou State is their unusual talent for translating their music to the live stage'

By Will Snelling, Second year English Literature

'A major virtue of Maribou State is their unusual talent for translating their music to the live stage', Will Snelling reviews.

Maribou State have chiselled away at their brand of epic-yet-tasteful electronic pop over the years, and their show at the O2 in Bristol was the resultant glossy gemstone on full display, its light refracting in dazzling colours and dancing shapes over an impressive set.

The less than intimate venue, where if you turn up late like me you end up standing pushed back near an overcrowded bar selling Carlsberg for a fiver, wasn’t ideal. However, the cavernous impersonality of the Bristol O2 could do little to stifle the Good Vibes that Maribou State produce so efficiently. Their recent single Feel Good, a collaboration with Khruangbin, came in strong near the start of the set, its insistent, hypnotic guitar line keeping you entranced while vocal samples leap and skitter over a rousing progression. It’s a high bar to set for the evening, and Maribou State just about sustain it.

But ultimately perfection can have its problems too. A sense of familiarity and safeness began to creep in midway through the set, euphoric peak after anthemic peak edging toward diminishing returns. When this formula of slow release is pulled off, it’s amazing: Steal’s dark build up has plenty of goosebump-moments, and Ritual is impossible not to get swept along by. However, a performance of Beginner’s Luck off their latest album Kingdoms in Colour would have been welcome; it’s a more low-key affair that floats along with a wide-open, chiming guitar line; the set needed that kind of subdued counterpoint to the duo’s more epic leanings, when the effect of the latter can be a little like being hit over the head with a hammer.

A major virtue of Maribou State is their unusual talent for translating their music to the live stage. While electronic music as lavishly produced and textured as theirs can be sapped of its energy when performed live, they replicate the organic sound of their albums through the use of real drums, guitar and bass; instead of feeling like the band has just pressed play on an iTunes file, you instead get the full energy of a live band pushing air in front of you. That added tangible element does a lot to elevate the set to a higher plane.

Maribou State are a live act full of vitality, and their blend of the organic and electronic keeps them sounding fresh in 2019. Their songs are a testament to the power that music can have to change your mood for the better. However, at times I wondered whether they might need to subdue themselves, or maybe embrace their weirder side, in order to stop their vibrant colours from blending to an indistinct grey over the course of a set.

Featured Image: Maribou State/ Sam Neill

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