Date: February 9-16, 2013
Venues: The Hunter Lounge, The Tivoli, The Enmore Theatre, The Forum,
Act: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
I’m two gigs into a four-city, five-gig trip following Canadian instrumental post-rock act Godspeed You! Black Emperor around Australia and New Zealand when a thought starts to germinate.
Sitting on the balcony of The Tivoli, staring through wrought iron bars at flickering black and white images [train tunnels fading to a pinprick of light, telegraph poles receding, ever receding, railway pylons gliding out of view] it occurs that much of the visual panoply is about a journey.
It’s pervasive: variations litter Storm, punctuate Albanian, and dominate Moya.
We’re almost always travelling. Yet we rarely see the destination.
We are borne into an unseen, uncertain future because our eyes, via the camera, are fixed firmly on the past we leave behind. Watching the miles of slowly disappearing rail in the wake of the lantern rouge, the tunnnel that diminishes to a pinprick.
Or we gaze to the side at the road not taken, inexorably drawn to a pale, wan sun glimmering hesitantly through a layer of cloud. Or to the slow, painful journey of the solitary traveller trudging through scorching sun along a dusty road.
Is it nostalgia for the old? Are those other, alternate paths better than the unseen future we rush toward?
Or is it merely an oblique reference to the band’s early years spent rehearsing in a loft studio that backed onto a railway line?
These images are the vanguard of a mental war the forebrain wages against the hindbrain as each performance plays out.
The latter occupied with feeling the music — shivering at the wailing crescendoes of violin and screwdrivered guitar, shuddering at the propulsive cadence of the percussion, engrossed in the grand sweep of instrumentation. Read more