For pretty much every act around right now, there is one aspect of their output which is the main focal point. With some it’s the visual side of things, and with others it’s the musical side. For London four piece Breton, however, it’s both. Music and film play equal sized roles of importance when it comes to making the Roman Rappak-fronted group one of the most exciting experimental rock bands around. For every show they play, a video screen displays a different video for each song in the set which, combined with powerful music and intricate lighting, makes for a sublime show. They’re currently touring their second album, War Room Stories, with the Mainland Europe leg wrapping up tonight at the legendary Paradiso, in Amsterdam.
Walking on stage to a sold out crowd of roughly 250 people just after 8:15pm, the group immediately broke into the grooving beats of Got Well Soon, the lead single off of their newest records. Live, there’s so much more emphasis on grooves and dance beats (something which is apparent throughout the 16-song set) than on record, where the experimentalist electronics take the lead. Even on more experimental tracks such as the following song, Pacemaker, the trademark violin melody is backed up by a pouncing bassline and fierce drums. Edward the Confessor receives the first big cheer of the night, with its black-and-white music video playing on the video screen and perfectly complementing the super energetic band onstage. Roman Rappak is Breton’s powerful and memorable frontman, backed up by drummer Adam Ainger, bassist Daniel McIlvenny and Ian Patterson on synths/beats. Throughout the show, Rappak, Ainger and McIlvenny swap instruments regularly, demonstrating how talented a group they are.
302 Watchtowers follows, making room for a breather in the set. Its breakbeat drums and eerie melody line seemed to cast a spell over the crowd, who seemed almost in awe of the band. Throughout the whole show the crowd was brilliant, with their danceable energy really being absorbed by the band. Dance-y Legs & Arms followed, giving the crowd room to move before The Commission slowed everything down once again. The Commission is one of Breton’s early visual masterpieces, courtesy of the bands visual expert Ryan McClarnon. It’s a slow burning, minimal song which slowly builds up before dying down almost instantly. Closed Category followed, with jazzy piano lines and a catchy chorus of ‘Stay poor, spend more’ letting the song flow easily into recent single Envy. It sounds like early Breton, via Ibiza melodies and another danceable bassline. Governing Correctly further brought the groove to the floor as the crowd started loosening up and dancing a bit more energetically, with the pace not slowing down once the band got to the powerful National Grid via a memorable rendition of Search Party. Search Party centres itself around a slightly tribal drum beat and keyboard line, whereas the focal point of National Grid is loud and clear claim that “everyone has a right to surrender”.
With the main set three songs from the end, the dancing continued during early B-Side Foam. This one wasn’t so much groove-based, but more club beats with squiggly synths and hypnotic melodies. It was paired with blindingly good strobe lights as the whole room lost themselves for 3 minutes. The band followed it up with one of the evening’s highlights, Jostle. It featured an extended intro which combined waspy synth melodies and bongo drums to create a blinder of a song, climaxing with a full-on rock-out over the lyric “marked out in hi-vis to stay blended in”. 15 Minutes ended the main set, climaxing into another full-on rock-out via dance-off whilst the video screen played the songs brand new music video for the first time, something which Rappack acknowledged would get them into big trouble. The band left the stage to immense cheering and chants for an encore, which happened only mere moments later as the band played the most experimental track on their new record, S4. The song is kept alive by the pizzicato-strings, which are a whole world away from the raw and experimental band that exploded onto the scene a few years ago. Show closer December once again demonstrated Breton’s ability to go experimental whilst delving into dancier elements. The song was extended a fair bit, to include a hardcore rave section at the end combining dirty synths, fuzzy bass and crazy strobes to bring the show to a chaotic yet brilliant climax.
Tonight’s sold out show was only in front of 250 people, yet this band have the capability to sell out and stun crowds 10x the size of tonight’s show. It just goes to show that all of Breton’s hard work over the years is really starting to properly pay off. Here’s hoping for far more success in the future…