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Defining moments from Disclosure's Madison Square Garden headlining set: EW Review

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Pedro Gomes/Getty Images

We gave it an A

British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, better known as the boundary-pushing electronic duo Disclosure, capped off a massive U.S. tour Saturday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden. And, just like their stacked new album Caracal, their live set transcended the limits often associated with their genre.

Though none of Disclosure’s all-star collaborators — Sam Smith, Lorde, and The Weeknd among them — appeared, the duo made do with souped-up instrumentation, polished stage presence, and a fan-pleasing setlist containing most of their greatest hits. Read on for five of the headlining set’s best moments.

 

The duo didn’t just press play.

Next time your great aunt or stodgy coworker tells you that EDM isn’t real music, show them a video of Disclosure on stage. Each of the Lawrence brothers had his own U-shaped arsenal of instruments that included keyboards, computers, samplers, MIDI controllers, cymbals and drums, and, in Howard’s case, a bass guitar. Disclosure built every song it played from the ground up and its in-the-moment bass and drum performances easily trumped the sterile precision of the pre-recorded backing tracks for which critics often mock electronic performers. A highlight: For Caracal’s Weeknd-featuring opener “Nocturnal,” the Lawrences set their beats on auto-pilot, Guy acquired an electric guitar, and the duo mounted an elevated platform for an extended outro jam.

Varied lighting and animation bolstered the set.

Snazzy lights and set design don’t play as integral a role for Disclosure as they do for peers like Skrillex and Deadmau5, but the duo still brought sleek stage production to the Garden on Saturday night. Part of this stemmed from variation: Their set included geometric shapes for opener “White Noise,” filtered live video for pensive “Jaded,” and recurring animation in Caracal’s aesthetic. Though understated, Disclosure’s visuals added a valuable dimension to their performance.

B-list stars brought their A game.

High-profile guests are icing on the cake at shows like Disclosure’s, but with the group announcing earlier this week that it’ll bring along Sam Smith and Lorde when it performs on Saturday Night Live in November, a mild sense of disappointment came over the Garden whenever the vocal sample of a track dropped instead of an in-the-flesh appearance by its featured performer. While the duo didn’t bring out Smith, Lorde, The Weeknd, or AlunaGeorge — and didn’t even play its Miguel-featuring slow jam “Good Intentions” — they invited four other performers on stage: Eliza Doolittle, Kwabs, Lion Babe, and Brendan Reilly. Ranging from Kwabs’ meditative “Willing & Able” or Reilly’s vocally stunning “Moving Mountains,” each guest considerably exceeded expectations to engross the Garden’s massive crowd. Plus, standouts like Lorde’s “Magnets” and Gregory Porter’s “Holding On” slayed even without appearances by their featured artists.

The Lawrences kept longtime fans happy — mostly.

From its stacked roster to arena-ready anthems to lack of interstitial filler, Disclosure went bigger in nearly every way on Caracal that they did on their 2013 debut Settle. But the Lawrences didn’t shy away from that album’s smaller-scale classics, opening with a double whammy of “White Noise” and “F For You,” blowing the roof off for “When A Fire Starts to Burn,” and inviting Eliza Doolittle on stage for the deep cut “You & Me.” Conspicuously absent? Sweeping Settle closer “Help Me Lose My Mind.”

Digital witnesses showed up in droves, not that many in the crowd cared.

The digital documentation of concerts has become so commonplace that it’s joined beer-soaked floors and pot-infused air as part of a venue’s sensory wallpaper. For Saturday’s show, devices were out in full force, along with less typical counterparts — because you haven’t really lived until you film yourself at a Disclosure concert using a GoPro mounted on a selfie stick. But with music this good, even the crowd’s staunchest analog advocates could turn a blind eye.