(First posted on http://www.recessiondodgetovictory.wordpress.com on 07/03/2011)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question.

And now for a band I do know. I first heard about GY!BE just over 5 years ago and much to my chagrin they were on an indefinite hiatus at the time. I looked up old articles of their hey-day to find out more about them and only really found that they were a quiet, interview-shy collective of anarchists who made sweeping music that inspired a sense of dread, or on occasion, hope.

And so with little to discover except more of their music, I bought up their discography only to want more. Thankfully in my research, I heard that at live shows they often played one-off, rare or even unrecorded pieces – which you can find scattered around youtube – a favourite of mine being ‘Albanian’ found below.

Imagine then, my delight to find out that not only were GY!BE back, but they were coming to Japan and not only that, they were playing on a Sunday! I used to curse how I accepted a job with a Monday off at the expense of working a Saturday and to an extent I still do. There were advantages to this schedule but nothing compared to being able to see your friends regularly and enjoying time together. I like to think now that I have seen Godspeed that this little miracle was my reward for putting up with that kind of schedule for what feels like an age now.

They were amazing from the get-go. As they stealthily stalked onto the stage, a projector-esque movie cycled the word ‘Hope’ scrawled in white pencil writing, flickering on and off the screen in an erratic fashion played behind them. They quietly took their positions to this backdrop and a droning noise from a tape, which had been playing ever since Dirty Three before them, left the stage. I was sure I saw people in the crowd stumbling to stand straight as if they had almost fallen over, entranced before a single note was even played.

The atmosphere was so thick that not a word was spoken from anyone in the crowd until half way through one of the first climactic moment in their first song ‘Moya’, when people started to cheer in excitement and my co-conspirator whispered how flawless their playing was – “It sounds just like the record.”

Normally, I would have taken that as a complaint, after all I don’t go to see bands to hear the record rehashed on stage when I could be doing it in the comfort of my own home, but instead, I want my live experiences to thrash out raw, live excitement. However, GY!BE broke the mould for me as a new kind of concert experience, which is saying something considering the eclectic bands we saw earlier in the day, not to mention how many concerts I’ve been to over the years.

But enough gushing. There were some issues I had with the set. Firstly, they didn’t play ‘Dead Flag Blues’ or ‘East Hastings’ and picked some songs that I would have considered questionable like ‘Sleep Murray Ostril’ and ‘Antennas to Heaven’ but they did include the amazingly climactic ‘Blaise Bailey Finnegan III’, which I have good memories of as I used to listen to it when on the bus through the Scottish countryside as well as the aforementioned ‘Albanian’. In fact, ignore that last part, the set list was perfect. Allow me to I gush some more…

In most lives performances, crowd interaction is a centre-piece and some acts have spread their fame (or notoriety) through how they interact with their fans. Not so with GY!BE. In fact, I got the distinct impression that they didn’t really want to interact with the crowd, as they pushed feedback out and droned over audience applause so that the flow of music remained uninterrupted. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing any microphone stands for any of the 8 members. This worked in part because of the nature of the orchestral music being played, but for me it showed that the music Godspeed were playing was a message, a sign, or some kind of portrayal of an omen.

This message was relayed through the other atmospheric videos in the background including the poignant image of some kind of industrial station oozing out gas into the atmosphere, replayed over and over, faster and faster at a climactic moment during one song. The most attention we received from the band was when one member gave a brief wave as he left the stage over the sound of feedback from three different guitars and the roaring applause of the I’ll Be Your Mirror crowd.

But GY!BE don’t really need our applause. I imagine that they want our attention to show what’s going on around us, the attention to “the dead flags at the top of their poles”, “the blood in our wallets”, and one ‘Blaise Bailey Finnegan’s’ opinion that “the world is getting worsht until it keeps on getting worsht.”

Whatever the reality of the situation, it gives me hope that they’re back spreading their message.

And everything good begins with hope.

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