Tag Archives: Live review

God Speed You Black Emperor – Warwick Arts Centre

GSYBE Warwick

So it’s been a little while since I posted here. My day job is fulfilling many of my WordPress hungerings and the Glove of Bones side dish has been occupying my down time. September & October have also been quite a gig fest – King Crimson, Hey Colossus & Kogumaza, The Sisters of Mercy, Space Lady, the Sun Ra Arkestra in a couple of days and last night the stunning God Speed You Black Emperor. I’ve been looking all day for some comment but nothing so far. So I’m here to hang around in a temporarily empty space.

It’s apparently been 13 years since the last time they played the Warwick Arts Centre. Whilst nowhere near main stream the band has a fairly legendary cult status. Formed in 1996 in Canada and broadly tagged ‘post rock’ they are still a large ensemble of skilled and dedicated noise makers. The last album Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress from earlier in the year is their first single platter, all previous productions being expansive long form albums of everything from riffing & crushing guitars, folkish violin & cello to drone, static & tape loops.

The hall at WAC is mainly standing, a modern campus theatre space with a single balcony (I vaguely recall watching Bauhaus & the Southern Death Cult here in the 80’s in its previous life). The stage is low with dark curtain drops at the back. This was littered with equipment, two drum kits, double bass, stacks of amps and complex daisy chained effects peddles.

Warwick Uni

The opening band was The Dead Rat Orchestra, two contemporary chaps doing what I can best describe as post Tudor revolutionary ambient folk drone. Honestly, look them up. They were really engaging and idiosyncratic. Have a look here.

Dead Rat Orchestra

Just a little before 9.00pm the lights went down and the back drop flickered with shadows. A low bass drone hung in the air indicating the volume we should anticipate. Many sensible folks plugged in their ear defenders. Sophie Trudeau & Thierry Amar came out first, hooking up to the electricity and drawing sound from their instruments. The remainder of the band came in from the shadows slowly, Aidan Girt & Timothy Herzog on drums & percussion, Mauro Pezzente on bass, David Bryant and Mike Moya on guitars and effects – both seated, and finally notional band leader of the anarchist collective Efrim Menuck also on guitar, tapes & loops and a mountain of effects. From there on in its anyones guess. The band play, they don’t do show, no guitar faces, no ‘Hello Warwick and the surrounding areas!”, (in fact no vocal mikes at all). The songs are long pieces that build & evolve, the band know the pieces inside out and pass cues between them selves, and when they let fly the sound is internal and external, it shakes your boots and soul, glorious sweeping violin, growling distorted guitars and gut punching bass. Although I was on the frontline I didn’t in the end reach for ear plugs. It was loud but it was perfectly placed for the room. I could mainly hear the sound from the bands back line rather than the halls PA and their evident skill with sound manipulation would have been lost with a restricted plugged up dynamic range.

GSYBE Warwick Uni

Its not impossible that they improvise around some pieces, I don’t know the songs by name, more by feel. They certainly played the four songs from the recent album:”Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’ Lambs’ Breath, Asunder, Sweet & the monstorously huge Piss Crowns Are Trebled. If I find a set list I’ll add it in.

EDIT – Setlist as promised;


  1. Hope Drone
  2. Gathering Storm
  3. Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’
  4. Lambs’ Breath
  5. Asunder, Sweet
  6. Piss Crowns Are Trebled
  7. Mladic
  8. unknown
    (new song)
  9. The Sad Mafioso


This is ‘Hope Drone’ from 2011


I was as anticipant to see this as I was King Crimson – ultimately very aligned bands, equally about the music – but for pure visceral eye watering impact GSYBE took the edge. If you get the chance they really should not be missed. Its a fine line between GSYBE and Swans as to who’s the most affecting. Swans damaged my ears more…. but that was equally worth while.

Here’s GSYBE from earlier in the year


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Josh T. Pearson

Wednesday 30th March

Josh T Pearson @ The Bodega, Nottingham.

The bar downstairs started to get pretty packed when the doors to the venue remained closed an hour after advertised opening. The Bodega isn’t huge and given some of the other venues on this tour we were lucky to get to see this in such an ‘intimate’ surrounding.

Eventually we were allowed upstairs and I can only suspect the place was at capacity.

First on was Richard Warren. He played a great set and whilst I hadn’t heard the name before I’ve since seen his history and it explains why he was so good. I’ll definitely look into his new stuff. Described elsewhere as ‘British Americana’, but essentially powerful, stripped back songs, well played and with good use of analog sound kit and classic instruments. He used a Fender combo on the last two songs which I doubt I’ll get close to on Amplitube but it would be worth trying.

After a quick change over next up we met ‘We Three and the Death Rattle’. A young trio comprising guitar/vox, snare (bass drum abandoned roadside) and vocals. The singer Amy also had some interesting flirtations with a mini Theremin type item. They have a definite sound and game plan and played with commitment.

‘We Three’ had travelled up from Brighton with Josh & instruments etc and it seems arrived only an hour or so before playing. Given that Josh must be nearly 7 foot tall I don’t imagine it was a Micra.

After a minimal blast of dry ice, Josh came on stage and plugged in. A commanding figure in black suit and steer horned belt, he’s far more amiable than his recent amazing album ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’ would lead you believe. From joke asides and a bit of self-deprecation he breaks up the tension between songs both for his benefit and the audiences.

As other live reviews have mentioned he opened with ‘Rivers of Babylon’ which whilst it sounds out of kilter fits perfectly given it’s religious theme and when delivered without any irony or nod to either the Boney M or the Jimmy Cliff  versions. This opener segued seamlessly into ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’

….and then we went off into an evening of incredible songs and the most sensitive guitar playing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s true to say you could hear a pin drop whilst he played (or even the subtle shuffling of plastic glasses behind the bar). The audience was totally attentive throughout and the close of each song (generally indicated by a quick stamp or a slap on his guitar) was given exuberant applause. Most of the songs exceed 10mins and are lyrically hard work and harrowing. Even Nick Caves ‘The Boatmans Call’ has more happy moments, but it’s good to find some real music these days that has any emotional depth. Themes range from domestic violence through to infidelity, all delivered with the potential to go from a teeth grinding whisper to an anguished yell. Variously described as harrowing, epic, desolate & cathartic I would say on the whole the songs leave me lost for words. There’s definitely an uncomfortable beauty in the experience.

It would have been great to see him play with accompaniment but I guess getting Warren Ellis and his violin on stage would entail excessively high levels of beard insurance.

The set closed with an unexpected sing-along to ‘The Devil is on the run……lets have some fun’ with pretty much 100% audience participation. The man is currently a force of nature and I hope he finds a tour manager / merchandiser /driver / sound tech (who can cook) so that the tour rolls on.

He should be on Jools Holland soon so he will hopefully find a wider audience, as did Seasick Steve. Buy his album, in fact buy two and give one to a friend.

Here’s a great version of ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’ from a French TV show.

Links below to some other interesting sites. The pictures included here use all sorts of apps’ including Hipstamatic, Swanko Lab, Pic Grunger & Toon Paint. Use them if you want but credit me a link!







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