MGMT , Wolverhampton Civic Hall 13th October

Steve Beauchampé takes a trip.

It’s quite likely that Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, the driving forces behind MGMT, were cryogenically frozen upon leaving Woodstock in 1969, and only finally thawed out more than thirty years later.

Certainly, if the ghosts of Jerry Garcia and Arthur Lee had visited Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Sunday evening, they would have immediately recognised the musical template, but been staggered, and perhaps not a little envious, to see how more than four decades of technological development has enriched the ability to perform and present it. No need today for LSD and other hallucinogenic substances, MGMT can deliver a fully spaced-out, digitally driven happening quite legally as part of the entrance fee.

No strobes, no lasers, just (just!) a huge display projected onto the entire back wall behind the stage, impossible to ignore, endlessly inventive and absolutely pivotal to tonight’s live experience. In front of which, MGMT perform around ninety minutes of the most psychedelic sounds being composed anywhere today. Note, this is absolutely NOT prog rock (I wouldn’t be here if it was), not a paean to post-Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd (I wouldn’t be here if it was); nor is it pastiche, indulgent or pretentious.

A more contemporary reference point might on occasions be the Orb, perhaps Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, but the delicious complexities of MGMT’s music, its shifts in tempo, mood and direction, embody the essential elements of psychedelia, a sound forever associated with late 1960s counter culture, San Francisco, flower power and hippies.

Not lyrically however; the issues that MGMT address are very much those of the 21st century although fathoming out quite what points they’re making can be well neigh impossible. Neither is there a tie-dye or kaftan in evidence amongst tonight’s audience (although sadly the Civic is no more than half full), rather just ordinary folk who have been exposed to over half a century of pop history and whose musical tastes likely reflect this.

Fleshed out to a six-piece for live performance (Wyngarden on lead vocals/guitar, Goldwasser on vocals/keyboards, James Richardson on lead guitar/keyboards, Hank Sullivant on guitar, Matt Asti on bass and Will Berman on drums), MGMT mostly perform selections from their first two albums, Oracular Spectacular (2007) and Congratulations (2010), with a few from their just released eponymous third album included.

Flash Delirium, Time To Pretend, It’s Working, Electric Feeling, songs that twist and change course, perhaps more aptly described as aural puzzles of Rubik proportions (not my description but I’m happy to crib it). You’re Life Is A Lie, from the new album, is rockier but it’s Kids, their ‘hit’, and arguably the best pop song of recent years, that sends the audience into raptures. Yet over the course of the evening, it’s the indefinable coherence inherent in the marriage of the kaleidoscopic projections to MGMT’s music that remains long after the last notes of encore closure Plenty More Girls In The Sea have faded away.

We leave. I’m really not sure what I’ve seen but it was quite beautiful. MGMT re-imagining Sgt Pepper would be something to experience. Just a thought.

MGMT are on Later with Jools Holland, this coming Friday 18th October, 11:05pm BBC 2.