While the hum from the stage widens into disparate but slightly threatening constituent parts, Godspeed You! Black Emperor assemble in front of a nearly-packed Vicar Street and a mesmerising display of analogous projector images. Eight or nine songs later there is a palpable sense of disarray coming from some of the crowd; presumably it is the kind of feeling you might get when a loud but hitherto inexplicably unnoticed noise suddenly dissipates leaving you inwardly wondering if you imagined what preceded. This is what Sunday nights in Dublin should always be like.
‘Hope Drone’, currently not on any GY!BE album, in its twenty-four minute expanse, is pin-point accurate as it whips and swoops around the venue hitting notes and colours with the precision of an assassin’s bullet. The only thing that can drag you (reluctantly) out of the murky, elegant swamp that this song is are the visuals. Grainy images of the word ‘hope’ seem to be scratched out of the stage as the song underneath it slowly ends. ‘Moya’, fully propagated by the stunning violin playing of Sophie Trudeau, has a seeming constant upward trajectory supported by keys and a plutonium bass line. ‘Peasantry or Light! Inside of Light!’, although at half the decibel level of Swans, is still reminiscent of the New York legends. The song seems to cannibalise itself within minutes of starting, an industrial cacophony of whirling machine parts eating the amp distortion which is in turn swallowed by tape loops before reforming out of thin air.
One of the most impressive elements of tonight’s performance, and GY!BE in general, is that they are so graceful in their patience; three or four minutes of silence will pass and nobody feels the need to disrupt the natural flow of a song. No trills, no twangs, no licks, just beautiful, huge ambience to re-calibrate the audience before starting their audible mind-fuck all over again.
A special mention once again must go to the band’s projectionist whose alchemy is only matched by his counterparts on stage. A row of manual projectors and bulbs are manipulated using nothing more than his hands; the result is terrifying beauty writ large. The band are many but they take up no space on the stage and ostensibly do not wish to be seen at all, tonight is multi-sensory bliss facilitated by ghosts.