Explosions in the Sky

Tuesday’s Explosions in the Sky gig was excellent, thanks for asking.

It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, however, although quite what I was expecting from a band I’d never before seen live but had been waiting to do so for a long time, I am not sure.

The queue

For a start, the gig was packed. It was a big venue and the queue outside even before the doors had opened was huge.

Donald and I got talking to a couple of Aberdonians behind us in the queue, who were disappointed we’d nicked their probable crown of longest journey when they discovered where we were from.

They said that they (each other) were the other only people they knew who were into EITS, and it was much the same with us.

Although they celebrated their tenth anniversary this summer and are one of the defining bands of the post-rock genre, Explosions in the Sky have never seemed a particularly high-profile and widely successful band, so it was something of a surprise to discover that the Leadmill was a pretty big venue and two or three hundred other people had turned up early to see them.

While it was good to know there are plenty fans out there, it did mean our not-early-enough arrival led to us being stuck near the back, meaning my photos were somewhat blurry.

Support, green

Support was in the form of Glasgow/Edinburgh band North Atlantic Oscillation (MySpace | my photos), who played a thoroughly competent set.

Their sound is very original – although I’d heard of them I’d never heard their music, so will definitely have another listen online.

Explosions’ own set, when they came on, was really, really good. For a band whose sound is at times so intense, intimate and precise (not to mention lyricless), it was thoroughly refreshing to see them live and in person. The sound was so much more raw, alive and energetic in the venue, and the way they beautifully and powerfully brought to life some songs I’ve generally regarded as among their weaker tracks, has made me reassess my favourites.

Turning radioactive

Indeed, one or two of my very favourite tracks didn’t materialise in their set list.

However, their tracks generally last around ten minutes, so their hour-and-a-bit set probably only involved about eight or nine songs, all nevertheless played with great energy, care and emotion.

The demands of playing such tracks was evident towards the end, the sweat pouring off the band members as they threw themselves into the performance.

Perhaps what might be the biggest criticism of their set, the fact there was no encore, was therefore pretty much understandable when one of the band, Munaf Rayani, returned to answer the crowd’s chants of “one more tune!”, saying they were all exhausted, they’d given everything they could, and they’d absolutely loved playing for us.

Rayani’s words were well-chosen – appropriately enough, for a band who use none in their songs, instead letting their guitars and drums to the talking.

It was a great gig, on reflection. They probably remain my favourite band, and I’d see them again in an instant. Even if it meant another twelve hour train journey…

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