Live: Eulogise All Hippies. The War on Drugs, Electric Ballroom.

Casually strolling into Camden's delightfully rubbish Electric Ballroom, expectations could be charted at moderate to low as we failed to buy into the hype surrounding The War on Drugs’ latest album, Slave Ambient. Brief chats and musings passed before a chorus of whoops and cheers heralded the arrival of a live act set to prove our preconceptions to be woefully misplaced...

From the get-go, Adam Granduciel & co. have the crowd nodding and swaying in appreciation as the sheer happiness of tonight's opener Buenos Aires Beach creates an ambience of love and joy, man. The gentle strumming of guitars on I Was There then cuts through the ambience to build a swell of atmosphere that is potently and intoxicatingly beguiling. Invoking Stereolab at times, Best Night soars out into the crowd, unfurling its beastly majesty as a nearby listener yells “What are these crazy hippies gonna do next?!” The answer comes quickly as the night’s highlight, Come to the City, is constructed of a wall of sound big enough to bowl you over. An amateur guitarist is invited onstage and a cover of The Waterboys' A Pagan Place few saw coming brings further delight to the evening, with Granduciel’s interludes effortlessly entertaining the throng of now-adoring fans standing before him, before the band exit stage-left in a blaze of glory hitherto unprecedented.

An intelligently orchestrated encore yields quasi-religious euphoria amongst a cloud of reverb and distortion as heavenly keyboards break through and form the foundations of a powerful finale as we're once again spanked for six. The War on Drugs are certainly a must-see this year; their richly textured, layered soundscapes inspire wave after wave of flowing euphoria amidst moments of pure beauty, and indeed we wonder: what are these crazy hippies to do next?

Ben Cousens.