To see acts in 2016 featuring a saxophone isn’t that common, and that is one of the reasons I like this band so much.
The Pageant, St. Louis
M83 has definitely worked hard and long to make a name for themselves. Formed in 2001, the electronic group hailing from France has released seven studio albums as well as two soundtracks, all of which have had great reviews and reception in the United States and Europe.
On July 25, St. Louis greeted the band with a full house at The Pageant. The band had good jams and didn’t lose its positive vibe, which is so easy for a band to do live. They, along with the audience, maintained a dance atmosphere throughout the entire set.
Although many focused their attention on lead singer Anthony Gonzalez, all of the instrumentalists were phenomenal. Not once did the drummer miss a fill, which made it easy for the audience to stay connected throughout. Not only did band members play their instruments with ease, but they each picked up another instrument—for some players, it was more than one. Probably the highlight of the concert was during the sax/EWI solo, when the crowd went wild. It was a great solo, and to see acts in 2016 featuring a saxophone—or an electronic one—isn’t that common, and that is one of the reasons I like this band so much: It makes them unique.
Most of the band member sang backup, as well. All of the harmonies sound balanced with no competition between vocalists and instrumentalists, especially when there were concurrent multiple voices. The bass player was not just the bassist and rhythm guitarist, but he also acted as the hype man, which kept me entertained. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. The band and crowd fed off of his contagious energy. It was like one big dance party, especially during their instrumental songs, as the chemistry between the bandmates easily rubbed off on the spectators.
I was a big fan of their set list. After performing high-energy songs, they quickly jumped into “Wait,” my favorite song by them. The audience didn’t really know how to handle it at first, but soon settled down and listened to the power ballad then rocked hard during the build-up outro. M83 had a great mix of vocals, including a nice female vocal feature from the pianist, which gave the audience a nice break from the lead’s voice.
Right after the pianist’s solo, the sax player played a smooth jazz/R&B intro, perfectly setting the mood for the song “Go” with Mai Lan, who is featured on their 2016 album, Junk. It was a great energy boost, as the crowd knew every word and loved her presence. Next up was their most popular, “Midnight City.” The band played the first two notes and the crowd roared, immediately recognizing the tune.
Some songs toward the end of the set started with a jam intro, which I think was a good change for the audience. It kept everyone on our toes! The encore featured a nice intro from the female pianist, with a booming sax solo in between verses: yet another beautiful power ballad.
The second encore was an upbeat instrumental that revived the audience from the beautiful daze of the previous tune. The dancing was almost as impressive as the live playing; it added so much to the show, and I loved every minute of it, as I’m sure a lot of the fans did.
Overall, this group was amazing live. Not once did the energy falter, even during the ballads. They kept the audience in control throughout the entire show and gave an amazing performance. It was, without a doubt, one of the best shows I’ve seen at The Pageant in a long time. | Toni Saputo