Lost in the dream with The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs have been on an absolute winning streak this year, with their mesmerising and finely crafted album A Deeper Understanding taking out the Grammy for Best Rock Album. 

And rightfully so. The band's musical epicentre and chief songwriter, Adam Granduciel is the type of musician and producer that creates music to lose yourself in. However, the question remains: how can a band pull off such a nuanced, polished recording live? It's no easy task. In saying that, The War on Drugs make it look easy.

Those that saw them at Laneway were treated to a dreamy set that ended all too soon. For those lucky enough to catch the sideshow, The War on Drugs made their way through a career-spanning set that ebbed and flowed through hits, deep cuts and moments of unbridled experimentation that felt distinct to this live show. The last performance of their Australian tour found the band in a celebratory mood, with Granduciel's iconoclastic guitar playing tearing out into focus with genuine enthusiasm.

Cutting right to the chase by opening with one of their best songs 'Eyes to the Wind', the mission statement of this show was set clear from the beginning: The War on Drugs were dedicated to an all-killer, no-filler set. From there, they moved into the Lost In The Dream highlight 'Pain' before flowing into a driving, visceral version of 'An Ocean Between the Waves'.

For the most part, the show altered between the type of mesmerising, meditative performances the band are loved for while being punctuated with their Springsteen-esque, '80s-inspired synth rock. 'Red Eyes' kicks into gear with complete conviction, Granduciel's elated 'woos!' echoing out across the Forum with the crowd joining in. It's intelligent rock and roll at its most joyous.

Unfortunately, the audience seemed most interested in the upbeat singles as opposed to the gorgeous, slow-moving renditions of 'Thinking of a Place' and 'In Reverse'. At the risk of sounding like an old man at a rock show, you should probably listen to the musicians you've paid money to see as opposed to talking to your date throughout every number you're not connecting with. In saying that, the band was unphased – taking an extended intro to 'Under the Pressure' that had me melting into the floor.

Of course, 'Under the Pressure' absolutely ripped. It's music that lifts you up, without ever feeling corny or falling into a tired pastiche. And that in itself is what makes The War on Drugs essential to see live. There's something about the band's overall cohesion, and Granduciel's delivery that resonates right to your core. When he sings "be the writer of your own story" across the swelling ebbs and flows of the band, I believe him. And I'll tell you one thing, it feels good. At the end of it all: isn't that what rock music is supposed to do? 

Highlight: Shredding, of course.

Lowlight: The incessant chatter of the unruly youths beside me. (I am secretly a Nonno living inside the body of a young man).  

Crowd Favourite: 'Red Eyes'.