John Maus @ Scala London
Having been left a difficult void to fill by his predecessors of the evening 'Peepholes', Minnesotean musician and political scientist John Maus smashed into the beginning of his set with a performance that would not disappoint and paved a way for things to come. Hand on heartand beating his chest with the microphone, he immediately seized the affections of all in the room and took us with him on a non-stop journey through his mesmerising electro-driven catalogue. Just himself and his backing track provided the set-up for this impressive display, and while off-stage he muses over ideas of us becoming plural through singularity, you can really feel this idea coming through in his performance. It's true, band gang mentality can seem standoffish and create a psychological wall between audience and act but seeing Maus stood up lone on stage projecting thundercat-esque calls to the audience, arms outstretched and really giving us everything makes his on-stage persona so very approachable and gives a live experience you can really sink into.
The music provided us with fluid, cascading synth lines drenched in dreamy reverb and supported by rounded bass that vibrated through the solar plexus and into the person behind you. With influences as early as Gregorian chant harmonies, and at a glance easily confused as homage to the 80's, Maus actually works these instruments and syntactical ideas together in a way that gives them a voice that's as relevant today as the Indian summer we've all been waiting for. All this was spliced up with blink-and-you'll-miss them interludes that sprung you from the dream and snapped you back into the room with your hair standing on end. This contrast coupled with the fact that he cut each song short (roughly half the length of its album counterpart) made for a thrilling, fast-paced performance which, although concise (clocking in at 40mins) left every soul in the room baying for more.
Words by James McDonald