The The

Thursday 22 August 2024, 7:30pm - 11pm

The Waterfront

sold out

14+ (under 16s to be accompanied by an adult over 18)

The word ‘soul’ has been a recurring one in the story of THE THE: from Matt Johnson’s 1981 neo-psychedelic debut album, Burning Blue Soul, through the shapeshifting musicality of its 1983 successor, Soul Mining, and now with the name of his amorphous band’s 2024 Ensouled World Tour.

The dictionary definition of ‘ensoul’ is ‘to endow with a soul’. “It’s a fascinating idea,” says Johnson. “At what point does the soul inhabit the body? But, more pertinently, we’re in this era of nascent AI technology, and the philosophical musings and debates that are going on now about the meaning of being human.”

From the beginnings of THE THE in the late 1970s, Matt Johnson has always been a diviner of truth, whether it be of a personal or political nature. Over four-and-a-half decades he has earned an enduring reputation as a brave and uncompromising artist dealing with dark matters of the heart and delivering prescient socio-political commentary.

THE THE emerged from the post-punk landscape, in an era of self-taught musicians and DIY experimentation. Combining his passions for film soundtracks and musique concrète with his love of traditional songwriters such as John Lennon, Hank Williams and Robert Johnson, Matt Johnson began to develop a unique sound. His first, low-key release, in 1979, was the limited edition cassette, See Without Being Seen (remastered and reissued in 2020 on his Cinéola label). This in turn led to his signing with 4AD Records for the headspinning Burning Blue Soul, made during intensive recording sessions in ‘81.

In a surprise development, in 2018, THE THE returned to the stage, after an absence of 16 years, kicking off the widely lauded The Comeback Special tour at the Royal Albert Hall in London (a performance captured and released as a live album in 2021). “Actually,” says Johnson, “it was the most enjoyable world tour that I’ve ever done. The warmth and the love from the audience was overwhelming.”

All of which brings us to the much-anticipated – and COVID-delayed – Ensouled World Tour 2024, set to visit Europe, America and Australia. “This one would have happened sooner,” he stresses, “but of course, we’ve been on a bit of a dystopian amusement arcade ride the last few years. So, life gets in the way.”

As to what audiences can expect from the shows, Matt Johnson promises “there will be new songs, plus the songs that we love to do each time… ‘This Is The Day’, ‘Uncertain Smile’, ‘Heartland’. But there were certain songs that people asked for that weren’t performed on the last show that will be performed this time.”