Like the darkest trance and deepest house, however, Godspeed has those towering, glorious climaxes.
It is not exactly clear when the performance begins. Is it the first flicker
of the slide projector, or the first outbreak of audience shushing? The
eight (at a rough count) members of Godspeed You Black Emperor!
wandering across the stage since the end of support band Mecca Normal
The soft opening bars of Sophie Trudeau’s violin pass almost
halfway through the first ten-minute piece, even the
chattering at the bar has stopped.
As the first shuddering crescendo is dispatched to the rafters, the nervously
excited audience is unsure what to do. There is some tentative clapping before
a clear voice at the front breaks the tension – “that was incredible”.
Encouraged, there are a few more shouts, more scattered applause. Despite the
seriousness, this is not the hushed reverence of a
Radiohead gig – people are not hanging on every drop of ash
from the bass
player’s fag. The wide open spaces that this huge music describes and
provokes are all in your head, not theirs. More urgent than Mogwai
focused and melodic than Cale-inspired Velvets
, it clears the clutter from
the neural circuits, making way for thoughts of – they hope – revolution.
There is no trace of irony here, no smirking. These people are
totally fucking serious, even about the duelling xylophones.
Most of the material is unfamiliar, only the new album standout ‘they
sleep anymore on the beach/monheim’ is recognisable. There is little
movement onstage. The musicians watch each other intently, and the violinist
keeps an eye on the slide show, seemingly drawing her cues and pacing as much
from the shaky images of teetering buildings as from the two drummers.
During the encore, a drummer roams through the audience, tapping the rim of a
snare. The crowd parts silently, avoiding eye contact as if he
were a nutter on the subway.
In this wordless landscape, a ‘Gravity Grave’ era
Verve-like state of nodded
out bliss would seem to be the achievable peak. Like the darkest trance and
deepest house, however, Godspeed has those towering, glorious
just the short, ejaculatory euphoria of a trance breakdown but rolling,
muscle-spasming multiple crests. So lift those skinny fists, and bring
tissues and cigarettes.