St Andrew¡’s Church, Brighton. 16.04.2009
Live¡¦¡¦ In a church, the prospect of which had the crotch of my jeans straining until a tent formed and well my rigidity was not in vain, this excitement was more than rewarded; firstly in the guise of support act James Blackshaw, who, for one man and an acoustic guitar makes a sound so outrageously cascading and drenched in ambience it almost knocked the air out of me. This could be put down to the setting, which did provide overtones of haunting power, but from the second his musical waterfall began, a spellbinding haze perched upon the shoulders of all those present (which is about waist height as all the pew seats were filled). James Blackshaw or, as he is known on CD when collaborating with Josef Van Wissem, Brethren of the Free Spirit (a more than fitting name considering the venue and if you know your 13th Century history of Christian movements) manages to make his guitar, with the help of a little delay & reverb, sound like all the elements of Grails are being forced out of the sound box. Intimidating.
A brief trip across the road to the Iron Duke then (which, tonight, is serving as both the venue for liquid imbibing as well as extraction) where, quite fittingly, they serve the Cornish ale ¡®Doom Bar¡¯. So a swift couple of those chucked down the old throat and it was time for Earth. Now this was going to be a night for first¡¯s for myself; the first time for seeing Earth, which is shocking considering this is the 20th year since their inception, and also the first time for seeing a ¡®proper¡¯ gig in a church (Christian musical advertisements do not count). Quite unassumingly Dylan Carson and company shuffled into the - well I would like to say stage but that¡¯s not entirely accurate - middle, you know¡¦.. the bit by the font, and after a few brief words lumbered straight into Miami Morning Coming Down II(Shine) the sound of which is thunderous; vibrations storm along the floorboards and up through your legs (a mate of mine had to leave ¨ø of the way through as he couldn¡¯t stand the vibrating making his leg itch). The majority of the music tonight came from the band¡¯s last LP The Bee¡¯s Made Honey in The Lion¡¯s Skull and judging by the reactions it seems that this is their finer body of work (as a new comer I am slightly biased towards it).
The music that Earth build is slow yet eviscerating, repetitive but sublime and despite the sobering seriousness that the venue plies you with, Dylan Carson manages to crack a joke when introducing Engine of Ruin as a metaphor for vices and habits that destroy, for him these are mashed potato and eels.
The draw of Earth is that they manage, incredibly, to create a space where you are comfortable enough to sit back, close your eyes and allow the music to flood over you, and judging by the showcasing of an as yet unnamed track as the finale, their next offering is going to be something spectacular, as this song, perhaps more than any other, fully immerses you in the fantastic world of Earth. My first religious experience in the house of God.
James¡¯ Note: Jon would like me to have put the following score for this live performance, but unfortunately our antiquated numerical scoring system would not allow it. I did however feel it a worthy addition to this already rave review. Here people in all its glory is the score that Jon felt Earth¡¯s live show deserved:
Score = EPIC/10
Listen: http://www.myspace.com/earthofficial & www.myspace.com/jamesblackshaw