Live: Doner & Vomit. When Saints Go Machine, Village Underground.

I ought first confess: the nocturnal modus vivendi of London wide out east come Friday isn't one I itch to inhabit. There's a fight in the eyes of everyone, whilst your ears are ever filled with the incoherent tiffs of the loaded and loveless. Commensurately odious odorously too, a commingled smell of doner and vomit accompanies the anguished sight of tottering stiletto prima donnas vomiting doner. Factor in the inherently repulsive Freshers' Week, and you've the sort of almighty ugh affronting your senses to endorse an unending hermitage. These are nights destined for an inevitable disappointment, scarcely seen for many through sick squints, exorbitant tears and unnecessary traumas. It's grotesque, although it's nowt that another drink shan't remedy in some disgracefully superficial way, eh? We'll salvage something and save ourselves; we'll slump into a warm, yet later wholly worrying amnesia only to repeat again this time next week. However to this time banish everything from memory would be a drastic tragedy, for When Saints Go Machine have become utterly unforgettable.

Queueing out in the cold and dank autumnal mug, the Danes are substantially more discerning and unrecognisably more dignified. Sedate and sporting Fjällräven rucksacks more or less unfailingly, within it's alas a spiffingly British affair for the most part. There are those that jive about handbags to hefty techno; those that diligently administer bursts of electricity into ailing iPhones; they that celebrate the acquisition of liquor as though it were liquid opulence. Identikit dance moves imitating the plumbing of bottomless wells and the outstretched reaching for nonexistent unreachables are only broken up by the odd smartphone snap to document the depravity of it all. Knock back enough amphetamines and all this probably appeals. Then, and only then, can any of this possibly appeal.

But the Danes remain enviably limpid. They but patiently await. One ingenuously quizzes: "You know them?" It's an inadvertently damnatory indictment of our apathy toward – or perhaps purely our overexposure to – live music. It has become something of a product; a throwaway commodity we've come to expect and consequently take somewhat for granted. Yes, there's arguably too much on in London at any one point in time yet surely that affords us the opportunity to act as rightfully discerning consumers? To observe and fully experience. The live show is as immersive as any out there, so why ought we cheapen it in instead regarding – or rather disregarding it as an incentive just to inebriate?

"Yeah, I know them. That's the only reason I'd come down here", I reply through the dense wear of midnight. "Are they bigger than this in Denmark?" My fellow iconoclast replies with an almost clinical sterility: "Yes, very big." And on tonight of all nights, When Saints Go Machine tick like an intricate, yet with it immense hunk of clockwork. Their sound is impalpably enormous as they play almost unduly well for the unappreciative pill-scoffers in attendance. Although any band perhaps would be, they're an odd fit for tonight, as their great cogency comes from their ability to splice together the lavish orchestrations and ruffle-tranquil oneirics of breakthrough sophomore Konkylie with the soft, minimal house upon which they call within a live context. The result is a vivid conjuring of something absolutely ethereal, and with it entirely indescribable.

They are When Saints Go Machine, and their name couldn't be more apt: the cherubic Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild has the voice of a pained angel – the sort to have taken pity on a beloved and granted intemperate redemption; the sort to derive a forever melancholic beauty from the beasts of existence, many of which have here been unleashed tonight. His Americanised English is immaculate; his spectral warble superb on the rippled blips of Whoever Made You Stand So Still. Church And Law sounds thoroughly shudderous as it rebounds off the aqueduct-like arches of exposed brick. The grout in between begins to quake, whilst they captivate. The potent power ballad stomp to Mannequin follows: a gently trippy glimpse into that which is to come, their latest uncovered recording here springs into life and it's downright joyous to behold.

And yet there are cracks in its porcelain electropop, and through these cracks a darkness peers. Vonsild pleads to hold out a hand in both support and warmth: "Cover your lips/ It's cold out there", he distressfully stresses in an aggrieved grimace. "Little mannequin/ It's a house for the haunted", his words forewarn and, as his parting piece of chorus confirms, this supposed figurine isn't the inanimate object of slight objectification to adorn any old Hackney storefront but a being "born and raised for traffic." Harrowingly delivered, it's sordid stuff that's wondrously at odds with the forcefully bright euphoria upon which these doleful words roll. It discomfits and delights in equal measure; it ought (although it indubitably won't) alter the perceptions of they that so callously debauch even within this very room.

And as such, When Saints Go Machine imbue the evening with an unease that's as awkward as the adorably gawky Vonsild himself. He makes desperate lunges for his trusty mic stand to the disjointed throb of Parix – one of umpteen instances effortlessly bettered live – as his words of ricocheting bad dreams make pleasing caroms off synth stutter. The genuine disconcertion eases. Kelly, too, flaunts a superficial glee barely even dipped in this idiosyncratic kinda discomfort. Again, however, although tonight made effervescent with the zest of tropical bursts and jazz breaks, its lyrical progression traces the dissipation of initial infatuation: the first time Kelly kissed a boy, it was all "glow in the dark; arrow in the heart", yet even by its third verse it's more "tinted dreams and ambulance." The one criticism that could potentially be levelled at the band on record is that they can, at times, sound a little lightweight. Live, though, not only is their every sample amplified eightfold, but Vonsild's eloquent lyrical imagery assumes a great authority. It weighs heavy for a Fredag aften at any rate.

Thus distinctly electronic, if somehow organic they flitter almost whimsically between a melodious impression of Mouse on Mars, to 4/4 hi-hat-powered, hi-NRG indie, to Add Ends. One of the most exquisite contemporary compositions of recent times it's the prickly sensation of a frostbitten digit submerged in broiling water as it tingles with gloopy bloops and sublime glitches. It's broken apart so that they may rebuild, its undulating string samples warped into guttural whale song, only to then be recomposed as the celestial arpeggios return. It's perfect.

"This is fucking big coming from Cophenhagen", Vonsild canons off as something of a parting shot. It's only a little lamentable that the Friday drones came only to further detach from all forms of perspective.