Review: Bleachers @ KOKO, London

Jack Antonoff leads a Springsteen-esque party at London's KOKO.

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Jack Antonoff, the creative drive behind Bleachers, is an understated musical hero. Having played in the likes of .fun (of We Are Young fame) and Steel Train (who signed to the ever-cool Drive Thru Records), he’s since secured songwriting and production credits for global superstars Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lorde, St. Vincent, Pink and many more. Needless to say, he’s a behind-the-scenes pop.

Bleachers - I Miss Those Days


With Bleachers he takes the step to centre stage. The electro-inspired pop is underpinned by songwriting mastery, drawing from the likes of heavy hitters Bruce Springsteen or the recently departed Tom Petty. Antonoff celebrates the latter with a solo haunting rendition of American Girl during the evening. For the rest of the show he’s flanked by some seriously suave musicians. The back of the stage is dominated by the dual drummers, representative of his huge, reverberating sound. Jack’s fellow guitarist bounds around the stage during suitably melodramatic solos. At one point Antonoff stands atop a speaker stack, competing with his saxophonist in a crowd-pleasing display of showmanship.

But it’s far from frivolous. There’s a notable depth to Bleachers’ sound, which is pushed to the forefront when Jack stands alone with his Americana guitar twinge. It underpins the band’s sound. I Miss Those Days sounds like a youthful, experimental could-have-been Springsteen joined by unashamed pop quirks that make it undeniably Bleachers. Set closer, and arguably their biggest song (if not the biggest pop number of the year) Don’t Take The Money whips the already energetic crowd to an absolute frenzy. KOKO, home of occasional raves, hasn’t ever lived a party like this one.

Bleachers - Don't Take The Money


Perhaps above all else, Antonoff looks like he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He’s clearly thrilled by the reaction to his new musical endeavour, and it’s easy to see how this enthusiasm bleeds into the monstrous hits he’s been churning out with household names. Bleachers is a passion project. It’s this unadulterated love that truly defines the performance, and the sound. There’s not really any better pop out there right now.

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