Backdrop impressed as much as the music

M83 lead singer Anthony Gonzalez commanding the stage.
M83 lead singer Anthony Gonzalez commanding the stage. PHOTO: ALOYSIUS LIM/LANEWAY PRESENTS



The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa/Thursday

French electronic act M83 brought a bit of science fiction to The Coliseum during their 90-minute set.

It was one of the more impressive stage backdrops the venue has seen - the scaffolding had glittery lights reminiscent of a galaxy of stars, switching to the neon strobe lights of a club, as and when each track called for it.

Whether building to euphoric, interstellar highs or channelling 1980s club vibes, the music and the atmosphere worked together perfectly.

Brandishing the dream-pop banner, M83 were a sight to behold for the 2,000-strong crowd on Thursday, delivering the goods just like they had in their stellar closing set at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival at Fort Canning in 2012.

After an opening set by local indie darlings .gif, they kicked off with Reunion at 9.30pm. The quartet of musicians backing lead singer Anthony Gonzalez - a drummer, guitarist, keyboardist and saxophonist - brought grandiose, sweeping washes of synth-pop to the venue.

Thankfully, the setlist contained many of their older tracks, especially from 2011's seminal Hurry Up We're Dreaming and 2008's Saturdays = Youth.

The cinematic quality of Gonzalez's older music was expertly captured live, sounding even better than the highly produced album versions of tracks such as Midnight City and We Own The Sky.

Red-haired singer-keyboardist Kaela Sinclair was a standout, handling the soaring vocals on the track Oblivion with ease, while Joe Berry provided saxophone interludes with sass.

Tracks from their latest release, Junk, were sometimes clumsily spliced between bigger hits. While Road Blaster was an upbeat tune with a catchy saxophone riff and Bibi The Dog had a 1980s chill-out vibe, they did not quite keep the audience in rapture the way the older material did.

Gonzalez's interaction with fans was kept to a minimum, until he pulled out a Go Pro camera to capture the audience towards the end of their set.

Finally came a three-song encore of Solitude, Couleurs and Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun, which was a nice come-down after the highs of a set that a venue like The Coliseum had not seen in a while.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Backdrop impressed as much as the music'. Print Edition | Subscribe