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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Kevin Doria

2011-01-19 NL – Amsterdam - Paradiso

Full Moon Madness Over Amsterdam!

The new year gets started with a peal of thunder, no that’s way too harmless, with an eruption-like explosion of a volcano! Long forgotten, written off and legendary, the gods of Post Rock GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR returned after a seven years lasting hiatus. Totally surprising. With a handful of shows in the US and Europe. Why and wherefore… nobody knows. GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR are known to be complete denier of all kind of media. So no further notices, no interviews, booking plans or anything else regarding a possible future. Hardly announced the shows sold out in a twinkling of an eye. So I would like to state that’s almost a miracle that I was allowed to participate in this event. 1000 thanks go out to Dirk for making this possible :)

:: pics ::

This show turned out to be one you only experience once in a decade. For descriptions I guess I have to use gigantisms, or to obligate a poet for writings. GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR is not only the first concert but already marks the best show in 2011. I think this show cannot be topped anymore this year. Really. And this event will for sure be added to my private pantheon of the best concerts of all time.

I also have to express my enthusiasm for the venue: the Paradiso. That’s such a wonderful and awesome place to be. It’s a very old church built in the 19th century (1880 to be exactly), all wooden, baroque and ornate in the inside, a huge hall and two galleries up and around with an outstanding sound. Just beautiful. Breathtaking. Oh sorry, was there for the first time ;)

As for the opening act :: KEVIN DORIA :: I only could catch up for the last 5 minutes. Traffics, rush hour and sleet did the best to keep me away from the venue *grrr*
KEVIN DORIA is one of three founders of Olympia, Washington based Drone/Ambient/Noise band Growing. He performed solo, all alone standing behind a table full of effects machines, twiddling knobs and controls. He much reminded me of Justin Broadrick and other sound equilibrists. Unfortunately, 5 minutes were not enough to get any impression of the music :(

Ok, time to take a breath, to calm down and have a look around. Audience was pretty much mixed, different styles, age and tongues. Although sold out there was no pushing and enough room to move freely. Change-over happened pretty fast with Hope Drone already accompanying in the background, rising to a mighty intro a half hour later. Time has come for :: GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR :: For unbelievably 2 ½ hrs. they delivered a sound universe I never have experienced before. It was not only a listen; I was feeling every single instrument, every single tone, and every melody, inside, with every little single cell in my body. This wooden church turned out to be a huge resonating body and I stood amidst. With an ongoing gooseflesh. Beyond words to describe how it felt there. Underneath barely glowing lights this 8-headed commune (Efrim Menuck - Gitarre, Mike Moya - Gitarre, David Bryant - Gitarre, Mauro Pezzente - Bass, Aidan Girt - Drums, Sophie Trudeau - Violine, Thierry Amar - Cello/Bass, Bruce Cawdron - Drums) performed much restrained. No communication to the audience, no contact of any kind, just stealing a peep at the crowd every now and then and yes, I saw a smile. To take photos was pointless, so with closed eyes I enjoyed the event, with open eyes I got astonished by all these effect pedals and other stuff on stage. I learned: spiritual guitar players use screwdrivers instead of pleks, intellectual drummers and bass players use bows, preferably a strong one from the cello, to create these unique tones and sounds. Sounds and loops Efrim Menuck started from tapes. By the way, it was so lovely to see a picture of his little son pasted on the inside of one of his equipment boxes.
On a huge screen behind the Canadians film projections got shown. Dark, yellowed, through and through bleak and a sole charge against bad habit and injustice of human mankind. Together with the music this scenery culminated in an almost depressive atmosphere. As I said, an exceptionally intensive concert!
Setlist: Hope Drone, Albanian, Monheim, Gathering Storm, Moya, Chart #3, World Police And Friendly Fire, Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls, The Cowboy, BBF3

Outside at the merchandise only vinyl was sold for 20 Euro each, but also two of these limited tapes (All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling - 1994) and shirts. Shortly before midnight and after the shock I got at the parking garage’s pay machine (5.50 Euro each hour x 4… another LP *sighs*) I hit the road towards home. Much faster now and guided by the shining full moon…


story & pics © Dajana