Now here’s a turn up for the books.
Godflesh playing in a former veterinary school (now one of the biggest multi-arts and events complexes) sounds like an intriguing prospect, as opposed to a dingy club.
Indeed, the room is called the ‘Dissection Theatre.’ So the omens are good.
And the stage is low and wide, so it’s perfect for the band’s setup of two members and a projector screen in the background, showing us Meshes of the Afternoon as the band bludgeon the audience into submission.
Of Spire & Throne
Local doom act Of Spire & Throne begin the proceedings. Unfortunately, the music is by the numbers doom and sludge, with the obligatory knob twiddling on a table of pedal effects to get a dissonant effect. It’s something you’ve seen done a thousand times and, in some cases, have seen done much better.
There’s no denying the passion that each member projects, and drummer Graham Stewart is a force to be reckoned with, but this is not memorable in any shape or form.
While William Bennett (Whitehouse/Cut Hands) hits the soundsystem with a mixture of screwed up techno, Scott Walker and Russian folk music, Godflesh take to the stage.
But there’s a blip.
Technical issues with plugs and sockets delay the beginning. As Justin Broadrick and others muck around with cables and power adaptors, bassist Benny Green looks on, knowing fine rightly it wouldn’t be a Godflesh show without something going wrong.
When it’s eventually sorted, Godflesh open with the one/two punch of ‘Anything is Mine’ and ‘Messiah’, and this is certainly a very welcome move. Two of the finest songs from the middle period of the band, they sound immense live, full of nihilism and vigour.
This shouldn’t be happening with men nearing 50, but they make it look so easy.
Devoting a good part of the set to last year’s superb ‘Post Self’ (playing five songs in a row) not only shows that the band are determined not to rest on past glories, but also highlight just how brilliant that record is.
Take an example like ‘Mirror of Finite Light’, which is a different beast live with more bludgeoning power than the atmospheric version on the LP. Godflesh, always mixing things up to winning effect.
Song of the evening is undoubtedly ‘Head Dirt.’ It’s slow burning pace and moody, image painting guitar outro sounds positively apocalyptic in the Summerhall, with Broadrick ringing as much noise as he can out of his guitar.
Although the sound could be louder in places, Godflesh are unstoppable.
Benny is the regimented figure, rooted to the same position while rumbling away on the bass. He is the reason people like Kevin Sharp still describe Godflesh as a grindcore act (the grinding bass riffs). Meanwhile, Broadrick plays those awkward melodies while throwing himself about to the music.
It’s looking tight for one last song, but they manage to close their set with ‘Like Rats.’ No matter how many times it’s played live, it never sounds forced or dated. I still get chills hearing Broadrick bellow “Don’t look back / You were dead from the beginning.”
Godflesh rule. Simple as.
-Christopher Owens ::: 22/07/18
– Pic by Dan Hunt