Sunday, 27 February 2011

Review: Goblin Live @ The Sage, 24/02/2011

Despite living in Newcastle for ten years, Thursday night was actually the first time I'd been to The Sage, Gateshead's giant woodlouse-shaped concert hall. Regardless of the venue's appearance, I was pleased to discover that (the smaller) Hall Two is an intimate venue and that the sound is crystal clear.

I last saw Goblin at the 2009 Supersonic Festival in Birmingham; I think the line-up has changed slightly since then. Each of the musicians gave an extremely professional performance however, and the great thing about watching Goblin play live is seeing how well they work as a unit: their songs require a lot of careful coordination, and there isn’t a lot of room for showing off. This may be prog rock, but Goblin favour intricate time signatures and layered textures over stunt solos. There’s something engaging about the mixture of gratitude and bemusement with which they react to audience enthusiasm; they also commented on the fact that a lot of the
crowd were younger than the songs themselves.

As at Supersonic, their newer material worked better live than on record, but their Dario Argento soundtrack material got the best response. These tracks also really benefit from a modern sound system: the title track from 'Zombi' came through powerfully, as did a frantic run through 'Tenebre' (complete with vocoder) and the hypnotic 'Mad Puppet'. My personal favourite though was the eery title track from 'Suspiria', which featured an extended outro.

The band were performing beneath a video screen showing extensive clips from the Argento/Goblin collaborations (particularly 'Profondo Rosso' and 'Suspiria'), whereas last time I saw them, the clips were more minimal loops. I think I preferred the former approach.

A great performance nontheless: I recommend going to see them if you get the chance. I'm back at The Sage very soon to see Mogwai, this time in Hall One.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

True Grit

I just went to see 'True Grit', the new film from the Coen Brothers. It's based on the novel by Charles Portis and stars Hailee Steinfeld (who gives a terrific performance), Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. It was previously made into a film starring John Wayne in 1969, although that's really neither here nor there. See it if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Esben and the Witch - 'Violet Cries'

Recently released on Matador, 'Violet Cries' is an interesting debut from Bristol-based Esben and the Witch (who are named after a Danish fairytale).

I saw their sound described in one review as 'crepuscular': a similar term to 'vespertine', which also happens to be the name of my favourite Björk album. Rachel Davies' haunting voice and the band's atmospheric washes of noise create a listening experience just as unique and absorbing.

You can listen to the album in full here. The band's website is also worth a look.