For their first gig in London since 2015 the dark psychedelic pop rock trio Mini Mansions chose the Hoxton Bar Square and Kitchen to bring their latest EP Works Every Time on the stage, just three days after releasing it. Entering the room we find ourselves in front of a minimalistic stage design. Tonight will be all about the music and nothing else.
The shoegaze influenced noisy rock duo Sons of Raphael were in charge of the opening. Two guitars, one mic and a tape machine is enough for them to put on an energetic show, with no time to breathe between the songs, constantly bumping into each other.
The duo rushed through their set with an sense of urgency as if the building would implode if they stopped playing, blaring their aggressive yet spacey guitar riffs and vocals into the already packed small venue. After an exhausting and definitively sweaty set of 25 minutes, the duo leave the stage.
Fast forward to the main act of the night, Mini Mansions.
Starting their set with the first three songs of their 2015 LP The Great Pretenders, the trio (with a 4th member on stage playing the drums) showed a cohesion as a band that was absent from their earlier live shows a couple years ago. And this cohesion was well received by the already warmed up crowd with fans screaming the lyrics, letting the soulful, dreamy (but with a hint of aggressive energy that may be left by the opening act) guitar riffs and arrangements fill their ears.
After two more songs from The Great Pretenders (including Any Emotions which on the studio version is a featuring with Brian Wilson), it is finally time to jump into their new EP with Midnight In Tokyo. The hypnotic, slick and classy bassline that works so well in the studio version becomes an instant hit in the venue and fans welcome this new track in the best way possible by singing along. But no time to congratulate the band on their newest EP, the trio brought back from their first LP the song Monk which only makes us realise the spectacular stylistical evolution from the band.
After that Mini Mansions gives us the melancholic feature with Alex Turner, Vertigo only to bring us back to 2010 with another song from their first LP (it was first featured on their 2009 self titled EP), Majik Marker. The slow buildup works as an effective transition to hype the audience a bit more before playing another song from their latest EP, Works Every Time (which gives its name to the EP). The band shines in these moments by doing the well polished and classy studio arrangements justice in a live setting with the impeccable recreation of the atmosphere of the tracks.
Mini Mansions ends the set with a powerful and energetic duo of songs: Honey, I’m Home and Mirror Mountain before escaping to the private area of the venue to enjoy some well deserved rest after their set. What we will remember from this night is an excellent rendition of the various atmospheres and moods that the band so meticulously put in their records and a cohesion as a single musical unit that gives a live show that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Words by Elio Civalleri
Photos by Laurine Payet, all photos available here.