Close-up of M83 front man Anthony Gonzalez on a pink background

M83 returned to form this spring with the release of their 9th LP, Fantasy. The ’80s-inspired synth-pop record evokes the nostalgia of the band’s earlier era while bringing in colorful new influences from sci-fi and fantasy pop culture. 

On Friday night, M83 brought Fantasy to the stage at Mission Ballroom in Denver. This show was part of the final string of stops on the band’s 2023 tour. Beyond the powerful performances from M83’s six-piece live band, the most impressive feature of the night was the dramatic stage and lighting design.

The concert brought to life the sci-fi world of Fantasy, featuring glowing orbs, futuristic sculptures, and animations of the monster from the album’s artwork. This dimensional landscape, mixed with the dynamic energy of frontman Anthony Gonzalez, transfixed the crowd at Mission Ballroom. 

Fantasy Live

Opener Jeremiah Chiu kicked off the Mission Ballroom stop of the Fantasy tour. The L.A.-based producer was a fitting choice for this tour as he arrived onstage with a suitcase that opened to a modular synthesizer. The colorful wires and blinking LEDs spoke to the mix of nostalgia for bygone eras and dreams of the future that Fantasy evokes. Chiu’s ambient beats led perfectly into M83’s opening number.

M83 kicked off their performance by staying true to Fantasy. They opened with the ambient intro, “Water Deep,” then ramped up into the rest of the tracklist. Without pause, M83 played through nearly the entirety of the first section of the album, titled Chapter 1.

They jumped right into the lead single, “Oceans Niagara,” which introduced the audience to the visual world of Fantasy. Gonzalez’ brother, Yann Gonzalez, directed the music video. It features a multi-eyed monster, the spiritual mascot of Fantasy. On the live stage, these visuals unfolded with animations by Studio Space Dawg, which were reminiscent of the trippy and colorful imagery of the 1973 film Fantastic Planet.

The many tracks from the new LP allowed the performers to indulge in full-on extended jam sessions. Gonzalez dropped to his knees with his guitar as the band circled up and bobbed in unison, engaging the audience in powerful explosions of energy.

Anthony Gonzalez plays guitar in front of custom animations by Space Dawg Studios

M83 of The Past

M83’s nearly two-hour-long set allowed the band to not only play the majority of Fantasy but also indulge in many throwbacks to earlier eras (much to the delight of longtime fans). After striking the final chord of Fantasy’s closing track, the set shifted to the oldies. They included the most popular cuts off their 2011 Grammy-nominated album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

This last half of the show offered an impressive emotional range. M83 induced sadness with the cinematic and slow “Wait” (M83’s number one song) and then a heartfelt violin performance from Clément Libes during “Solitude.” The energy peaked during the encore, however.

The band returned to the stage with a song that fans were waiting for: “Midnight City.” Saxophonist Joe Berry played a massive solo on their hit track and Mission Ballroom’s disco ball lit up in technicolor. Of course, the entire crowd stood to dance. 

M83's colorful stage design within Mission Ballroom

To close the night, M83 ended with their iconic and cinematic “Outro.” This track is one of the band’s top-streamed songs with over 100 million plays on Spotify. Full of dramatic strings, huge crescendos, and longing lyrics, “Outro” closed the night with nostalgia — the defining emotion of M83’s music over the years.

Photos by Mike Rampi

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