Live Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor

8 March 2016 | 2:22 pm | Bradley Armstrong

"This is not a gig or even a performance; this is an experience and you don't have to feel good at the end to be moved."

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An uneasy, low-volume bass rumble can be heard while we take our seats in the sold out Melbourne Recital Centre. Waiting for the performance to start, the mood feels as if a storm is about to come. As the lights dim, projections of a hand that looks as if it were taken from a demonic bible flicker. The band take the stage and, gradually, the sound and tension of the music build to the point of Hope Drone's peak exploding out of the speakers before seamlessly transferring into the monolithic Mladic. Ladies and gentleman; the message is clear, this is Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

What this Montreal octet presents onstage is clear. This is not a gig or even a performance; this is an experience and you don't have to feel good at the end to be moved. The music is experimental and intricate as noises and sounds play against each other, creating walls of sound. Each member, a master of their instrument, is professional and emotive in their playing and critical in making this a unique experience.

The group's projectionist, Karl Lemieux, is like the group's ninth Beatle, delivering a performance in his own right. His manipulated, dark imagery is compiled live to complement the band's music. The acoustics in this venue are perfect for Godspeed You! Black Emperor; at its loudest, the music is crisp and clear, and when quiet, it's beautiful. The band don't interact with the audience and each track pushes the 30-minute mark. The crowd is dead silent from the beginning, offering wild applause given the appropriate opportunity.

Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress has been a part of the band's live repertoire since before its release last year and all the tracks from the record get an airing here. Peasantry Or 'Light! Inside Of Light' begins with booming drums that can be felt through the floor and ends in a dissonant mix of noise and drone. Lamb's Breath is loud and hauntingly beautiful with the violin loops cutting through harsh fuzz sounds. Older track Moya is another highlight; images of a deer in the headlights combined with the building tension are tear-worthy. F# A#  excerpt String Loop Manufactured During Downpour... closes the night and sees the band, one by one, leave the stage with effects pedal loops ringing out as the lights come on. Then each individual amplifier is faded out. The crowd expect an encore, but we've been watching the group for close to two hours. A highlight show that will not be topped any time soon.