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Stream Review: The Armed – Ultrapop Live at The Masonic

I wish this review could have been slightly different. The Armed, one of the most fascinating bands around at the moment, were meant to be in the UK/Europe last week and I was incredibly excited to see them playing London’s Moth Club. Unfortunately it was not to be, with travel at the minute a bit of a nightmare and a lot of countries across the continent not back to putting on live music the shows were unfortunately pulled. In place of in person live shows the band have pulled out all the stops, creating a streamed show which is more than just a live video, it’s a film in it’s own right.

It’s no surprise given their previous video history (check out the Dan Greene Cinematic Universe playlist on Youtube to get an idea) that The Armed have opted to create something that is narrative driven, even if the narrative maybe isn’t the easiest of things to follow. They don’t limit themselves to one performance space, opting to perform in various locations within Detroit’s Masonic Temple, each move between rooms driving the film’s narrative forward. Featuring recurring characters from previous The Armed videos, as well as others from director Tony Wolski, the film only serves to add to the band’s mysterious appearance.

The live segments themselves are perfectly shot for the band’s music; the cameramen move frantically around the sets in a way that feels like you are there, throwing yourself around on stage, right in the action. The editing is fast paced and cut perfectly on time. It feels like nothing was an afterthought; the lighting is different on different sets, at times subtle, at times jarring to complement the music. The sound is, as you’d hope for a live video, excellent throughout. Not only do the live tracks themselves sound great but the sound during the narrative sections adds to the feel too.

It feels like over the last 18 months there’s been an abundance of live videos in place of gigs (this isn’t a complaint, I’ve filmed my fair share of them) and it takes something particularly special to stand out. This is that film. It’s on an entirely different level to anything else I’ve seen, not just recently but in many years. It’s up there with Maresnest as far as live videos go, capturing the band perfectly while creating something interesting to watch. I just hope it’s a format they play with in the future.

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