The support act was a duo called Dead Rat Orchestra and was an act I’ve not come across before. They began with a traditional song from the 1600’s that was a folk style with a tinge of darkness to it that set the tone for the rest of their set. They would not have sounded out of place sound tracking some of the darker moments in Game of Thrones.
Although I had a standing ticket I opted to sit in the raised seats at the back of the ground level of The Dome which was probably the best way to enjoy Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A venue like The Dome is probably the perfect setting to see GY!BE as the design helps the bands sound fill the entire venue and its more traditional interior suits the bands classically infused post-rock style. It was also pretty cool to be sitting near their projectionist and seeing him provide visuals using reels of film that was beamed on a screen behind the band using two analogue projectors. These images varied from the word Hope spliced over abstract images during opener Hope Drone to bleak countryside, burning trees and finally ending with more modern civilisation during the latter part of the set.
They began with Hope Drone which is an unreleased song that they have been opening shows with since their regrouping a few years ago. This lead on to Mladic from ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’, which was released in 2012 after their extended hiatus. Mladic is quite a slow burner that builds in pace and volume until it becomes almost hypnotic and must have been between 10-15 minutes long by the time it had reached it fantastic crescendo before the pace slowed down and the riffs got heavier as it climaxed with distortion and feedback.
This tour was in support of this years release; ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’. They played all 4 songs in a slightly different order than on the album with Piss Crowns Are Trebled being my own favourite live and on the album. This track in particular highlights the all best attributes of the band. The pounding drums dictate the pace with layers of distorted guitars creating an incredible wall of sound with the classical sound of the violin getting equal billing to create something truly original.
The loudest cheers of the night came for older songs Monheim and closer The Sad Mafioso that were sandwiched around an untitled song. During the quiet opening to The Sad Mafioso you could hear a pin drop in the audience. This gentle opening soon faded as the tempo increased in parallel with the intensity of the music. As with much of their material this would probably be the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world. The vibrations of the music shuddered throughout the venue the entire set which gave the set an extra layer as you were not only seeing and hearing them, but also feeling them in your chest.
Apart from a few audio clips it was a purely instrumental gig. The only interaction the band had with the crowd was when the final member left the stage he waved at the applauding audience. Godspeed You! Black Emperor let the music do the talking, and when it is this incredible that is all you need.
By Simon England