Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Vicar Street – Gig Review – 21-08-16
Godspeed You! Black Emperor are much revered in Post-rock circles, if there are such things! They disappeared after the release of ‘Yanqui U.X.O.’ in 2002 with band members working on other projects, such as Efrim Menuck’s A Silver Mt. Zion. The hiatus lasted ten years until they returned in 2012 with ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’. 2015 saw the release of ‘Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress’ which further cemented the band’s status as a powerhouse of the scene. Their return to Dublin on Sunday night caused much excitement and when the band emerged from the darkness, the crowd seemed ready for the onslaught!
They opened the set with Hope Drone. The band are touring as an eight piece with two percussion players, violin, bass, occasional cello and a wall of guitars. It’s a suitably impressive sound that builds into an epic scale, washing over the viewers. The short set list (below) belies a relatively standard hour and a half on stage, as all the songs were quite grand in scale. All of the new album featured along with a couple of older classics.
The band make extensive use of video projection, and some line ups of the band even include projectionist Karl Lemieux within their ranks. It is fascinating to watch him at work, as he has four projectors running, and dozens of reels of film, which he constantly switches between. They are largely black and white, with some sepia tones and occasional bursts of colour. The images are often scenes of buildings and nature. Sometimes they tell stories, such as images of wall street traders interspersed with unfinished buildings. Another features a wounded bird, trying to fly. For a band without a lead singer, these images give a focus for the audience and really add to the live experience.
The band ended the night in unusual manner, with band members gradually leaving the stage, the sound slowly reduced. When the final member left, the hum of a feedback loop remained until the audience slowly realised that they had left for good and the house lights were raised. They are an impressive unit that grind out waves of heavy rock, infused with strings and other instruments. There are a number of contenders for the title of kings of Post-rock, but it is impossible to look beyond Godspeed. Their music is very impressive in a live setting, and this gig was them back to their best.
Support on the night came from KGD, who is a solo artist playing guitar and looping a variety of sounds. The noise slowly builds over time into an ambient drone. It was a near perfect choice as support for what came later.
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