At the tail-end of last year, we ranked ‘Settle’ by Disclosure as the 10th best LP of the year. The debut record from the duo was a treasure chest of earworms that took over every avenue of popular music consumption. The titanic success of their debut led to many prophets of doom to condemn them for selling out or making tunes specifically for the masses, rather than honouring the nuances of the underground dance scene that bred them. These haters were silenced by one of Shuf’s North Carolinian superfans (believe it or not, we have two) in his campaign for the LP as the best of the year.
In an effort to maintain the sentiments of his manifesto, we caught Disclosure on the first of two sold out nights at Manchester Apollo to witness their winning formula in front of it’s army of fired up disciples. Opening with the undercurrent of Eric Thomas’ street-preaching, beneath the unspoiled beat of ‘Intro’, the Surrey brothers rolled in to ‘F For You’ and began an exposition of what it means to run the radio in 2014.
Stranded to their diamond-shaped islands of instruments, the pair were surrounded by screens projecting the flickery, pencil-drawn aesthetic that has become so familiar to fans. Juggernaut singles like ‘White Noise’ and ‘You & Me’ were executed in an almost robotic style which perfectly reflected the linear nature of their hits. Later in the set, their rework of ‘Running’ by label-mate Jessie Ware showed how successfully they have managed to craft a unique sonic identity in the landscape of pop music without doing away with any of the weapons that got them noticed in the first place. The live show treats you to the same thrills as the LP; sheeny instrumentation, glossy builds and a complete musical universe that orbits around these monster-hooks. If you’re to look at Disclosure as mascots for the erosion of underground dance culture purely because Nick Grimshaw now uses the phrase “2 step” then you’re missing the point. This show was full of screaming fans and arena-ready sing-alongs. This is pop music, and it hasn’t looked this good in a very long time.
They close with ‘Latch’ and succeed in playing a huge sold-out show without giving off the tedious vibe of “bedroom producers done good”. There were moments where it felt a little bit like the last night in Napa. The floor probably stank of Smirnoff Ice and one guy filmed it on his iPad but that is part of what happens when your debut album is certified gold. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of North Carolina’s book and let the duo skyrocket without scrutinizing every time they sell a hundred thousand records. If you can’t manage that, then just turn off your fucking radio.
Words: Duncan Harrison