Scala, King's Cross, February 24th

Search the web and there are very few reviews of the Silver Mt Zion live show. Sure, plenty of hyperbole and many an extravagant metaphor has been lavished upon their recorded output, but they play live so rarely maybe there's good reason for the scarcity. Or maybe it's simply that they're so average no-one can be bothered. As half of Montreal's finest post-rock exports Godspeed You Black Emperor, I certainly expected more.

The Scala is already packed when we arrive, and there are a number of people scrabbling around on stage . It soon becomes apparent that all is not well. The band members and roadies are trying to fix some "technical difficulties" and Efrim politely asks us to bear with them. Politely, we bear with them. For 20 minutes. And then with no fanfare, we're off.

Except we don't seem to be going anywhere in particular. Granted the guitar / strings / quiet / heavy formula sounds nice enough, but it's nothing new and certainly nowhere near as powerful as I been led to believe. I'll admit that I'm not familiar with ASMZ's records, but live it just doesn't have the emtional kick of other post-rockers like Mogwai, Isis, Oceansize èt al. Efrim's thin reedy vocal and the trite overtly-political lyrics do it no favours, and after 3 ten-minute-plus pieces (for these aren't songs) I'm getting a little bored.

Matters aren't helped by the subject matter of the next epic, in which Efrim wails about images of helicopter gunships shooting down children being beamed around the world. We're an intelligent audience and we've all seen the horror of war on TV, and we know that it's wrong - sorry, but you're pointing out the obvious, mate. And it sounds terrible.

The power of GYBE's music lies in it's ambiguity. It can mean anything - you decide. The cover art and sleeve notes point you in the right direction, but you are left to interpret the sonic landscapes yourself. Unfortunately, tonight, A Silver Mt Zion spoon feed us sixth form poetry and hippy idealism, and (at least for me) it eclipses the music. However, It should be said that I am definitely in a minority, as most of the audience seem to be lapping it up.

Maybe I expect too much, but that bar is set pretty high and ASMZ fall way short.

SET LIST: Unknown

Richy [ February 26th, 2004 ]

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