Live Review – Godspeed You! Black Emperor

By Oli Conner (@OliConner)

30.6.2015, The Roundhouse, London

Godspeed You! Black Emperor have a particular strain of fandom. To those in the know they are held in reverential regard. As such, I felt a little bit late to the party seeing them a disgraceful 5 years after they reformed following their torturous hiatus in 2010.

I lament my mistake as now I’ve missed 5 years of Godspeed shows.

The set was emotional. 15-minute songs with layers of sound taking you to escalating levels of spine-tingling joy. The emotion was visible – two different members of the audience near me were crying at key emotive moments.

No review of Godspeed would be complete without a mention of their visuals. The word ‘hope’ was torn across the large screen above the band. It changed to a small desolate house surrounded by nature. It progressed to long steady shots of skyscraper construction. Ambiguous religious texts burned. Finally the red of a police siren lit up aerial views of protesters taking over the urban environment. It’s overtly political imagery.

When the visuals and intense soundscapes fuse together it throws the observer into a soporific alertness, making for a heightened and cerebral performance.

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