Live Review

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Forum, London

Playing five songs over two hours, this is truly a spectacle.

The rumble of distorted guitar emanates across the HMV Forum. Grainy projections flicker behind the statues on stage. Ears sting. Godspeed You! Black Emperor have always been the band who have said a lot without saying anything and tonight at the HMV Forum – more than ably supported by the hauntingly evocative Dead Rat Orchestra – the publicity shy post-rockers create a real transcendental event from beneath the shadows of the dark stage. Around me grown men and women nod heads, eyes closed.

On the eve of the US elections the show tonight is political without being ham fisted in doing so. The word ‘Hope’ flashes on the screen as they open with ‘Hope Drone’ and builds into ‘Mladic’. Here tonight ‘Mladic’, named after the Serbian general, is heavier and riffier than on record. There’s still that wiry tension which holds the song together until, and as the jagged, spiralling strings emerge, its intensity makes the whole room reverberate.

Then comes the crackling static and heart wrenching shimmer of ‘Moya’ followed by the unreleased ‘Behemoth’. It’s by turns a sensitive and aggressive 45-minute epic that builds up and falls apart again and again. The only gripe is that at times the quiet loud dynamics are lost because of chattering people.

Playing five songs over two hours, this is truly a spectacle. While the members of the group silently concentrate on creating their churning, hypnotising apocalyptic lullabies the projectionist plays the four projectors like turntables; melting film live.

Things then get overtly political as they finish with the slowburning ‘BBF3’. Chiming guitar lines play over Blaise Bailey’s one-man rant against the government system and the police. It’s accompanied by intensely red images of anti-war protests behind them. As it builds to a furious crescendo the band wordlessly leave the stage. The crowd are confronted by a wall of feedback. It’s unclear what has happened for the last two hours – but it feels like something special.

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