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Circa Survive, live in New York

New York prog-punks entertain and bemuse in equal measure

Anthony Green is having a busy summer. In May and June, he played a few highly anticipated gigs in the USA with former band Saosin – something which could well be developing into a more permanent fixture. In the meantime, he’s now back on the road with Circa Survive, the band he formed in 2004 after left Saosin.

He doesn’t seem the slightest bit tired, though. In fact, at this headline New York gig, he’s bristling with so much positive energy that, at various points, he bursts into a cappella renditions of Creed’s With Arms Wide Open and R.Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly, as well as a bastardised, butchered version of an unidentifiable Disney song that goes awry almost as soon as he begins.

Yet while those snippets are fun, they’re also indicative of Green’s slightly awkward, and at times quite vulgar, stage presence. “Fuck, yeah!” he exclaims too many times to count, like an overzealous teenager onstage for the first time. Other times, he lets our ear-piercing shrieks that turn blood cold. “Fly, my little puppy!” he says to almost every crowdsurfer who lands on the stage next him – if, that is, he’s not pushing them back into the crowd with the face of a blood-starved, maniacal serial killer. Three quarters of the way through, he drags a guy called Edward, who’d just jumped back into the throng, onstage again to do an interpretive dance-along to In Fear And Faith. It’s hard to tell if Green is being sincere or patronising in calling him back, but Edward is clearly having the time of his life, taking is shirt off, dancing away and singing along until Green unceremoniously boots him offstage before the song ends. To be fair, Green did then – slightly clumsily - walk across the crowd, haul himself up to the railings of the stage right balcony and jump back down, a feat much more impressive than Edward’s silent karaoke.

Still, despite the slightly uncomfortable and inelegant stage banter and antics, and a slightly wobbly start – opener The Lottery begins with a promising swell of sound but doesn’t quite kick the way it should, while Sharp Practice falls short of the glowing song it is on record – once the band get into the swing of things, the songs themselves are able to do the talking. Holding Someone’s Hair Back is mesmerising and hypnotic, and the already epic Birth Of The Economic Hit Man becomes an epic soundscape that fills the room and turns the crowd into quicksand, bodies sinking down to the floor as they attempt to reach the stage.

It’s new song Jimi, that really seems to capture the great heights that Circa Survive are aiming for, however, a warped and twisted hypnotic spell of a song that traverses light years and centuries with a sense of awe and wonder before exploding into an intense burst of demonic noise. Get Out is similarly energetic, but nothing compared to the visceral thrill of The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is The Dose, which finishes the main set. Unfortunately, Green decides to incorporate another snippet – this time the chorus of All That She Wants by Ace Of Base. He’s got the voice for it, but it’s one hell of a mood killer. The encore’s one-two punch of Semi-Constructive Criticism and Act Appalled make up for that, but Green’s odd and awkward stage presence and banter are still detrimental to the overall experience. Ten years on, that’s probably something he should figured out by now.