After releasing Dreamland in late summer 2020, Glass Animals were on the cusp of their most anticipated tour to date—it would obviously be delayed due to pandemic concerns, but every stop would host thousands of fans. It would be worth the wait. Fast forward a year, and the tour was delayed. Again. Spring 2022 was the optimistic target, and ticket holders held their breath for the eventual return of their beloved Brits, so imagine the excitement in Phoenix when not only the tour date was confirmed but also…a pre-tour show at The Van Buren.
One of my favorite artists in my favorite venue? A can’t-miss occasion.
Opening with “Life Itself,” the group was all smiles, feeding off the dance party happening on the floor and the elation that this was all finally happening. The booming 808s and the bright rainbow lights created a larger-than-life atmosphere—a dreamland, if you will. And the fans in the front row were singing along with every word.
This warm-up gig was their first of 2022, and even though it was a test of the new live show, you’d never know it with the band’s chemistry and ease with which they perform. The setlist featured some fan favorites (“Gooey”, “Youth”, “Tangerine”) but also a mashup of “Hot Sugar” and “Black Mambo”—listed on the set as “Black Sugar”—and the live debut (!) of “Helium”. Attendees of the Dreamland Tour are in for a treat.
Closing out the main set, frontman Dave Bayley said we were “bloody brilliant”, which is the highest compliment a crowd can get from someone who’s in town from across the pond. The emotion in his voice was so sincere, the whole room could feel it. The gratitude is never ending, even this far into post-pandemic normalcy.
But of course the four-piece couldn’t leave without playing “Heat Waves”, the smash success that put them on the map for a whole new wave of fans. That’s why they saved some hype for the encore: “Tokyo Drifting” (no surprise appearance from Denzel Curry, unfortunately) and the Song of Summer 2021. A dream come true.
Check out all the photos from a colorful night!
Story and photos by Taylor Knauf