OUR DREAMS, ALIT, SINKING IN THE HARBOUR
(normally this is where I'd post a video, but you know what? no)
So the reformed-at-least-as-far-as-live-music-in-2011 Godspeed You! Black Emperor (oh, I wish they'd never moved that exclamation point) played four shows in three days in Toronto last weekend. I attended the first two of them, and while some part of me was glad for the respite on Sunday, a larger part of me wishes I'd gone to them as well. Both nights Godspeed began around 11:30 and ended about 2 am, and in both cases I would have happily watched for another couple of hours. They played largely the same sets (the lists are here and here), and it didn't really matter. The redoubtable Frank Yang of Chromewaves has it right when he writes,
There was something unbelievably primal and elemental about what Godspeed You! Black Emperor create; like a force of nature if nature were sentient and pissed off. They moved slowly and inexorably, with massive weight and delicate grace and meant to be simultaneously marvelled at, feared and celebrated. The sound was deafening while perfectly clear, brutally beautiful and hitting with the impact of unchecked emotion made sound. I don’t doubt that the marathon-length shows are intended to add a dimension of actual physical exhaustion to the experience – are your knees buckling because you’re tired or because the existential momentousness of it all is too much to bear? Probably the former, but you can’t be sure.
I go to plenty of concerts, many of them excellent (tonight, in fact, I will be seeing Mogwai live, and they're one of my favourite live bands in the world). But Godspeed, both this past weekend and eight years ago at the Palace Royale, are something different. I plan to write elsewhere about the shows, at greater length, so I don't want to say too much now. But if you have any chance at all to see Godspeed play live, you should seize it.