Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Boiler Shop.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Boiler Shop.

History repeated itself, as post-rock kings Godspeed You! Black Emperor delivered a monumental performance before an enthralled Boiler Shop audience.

The last time the Canadians visited Tyneside, their set at The Sage was memorably interrupted by a fire alarm, heralding the venue's first-ever full-scale evacuation.

Fast forward two years, and most assumed a particularly wry joke was at play when a similar siren rose above the Boiler Shop's PA.

Before long, though, the evening took a turn for the surreal, as blue lights began flashing through the venue's side window.

If the band had remained poe-faced during the alarm itself, their bemused expressions betrayed that a fire engine pulling in certainly wasn't part of the script.

This time, however, the eight-piece carried on unabated. In full flow, Godspeed are quite simply on a plateau of their own, and in this mood there was nothing which could halt their monolithic procession.

Never ones to dwell on former glories, their 110-minute set (comprising a grand total of seven songs) largely eschewed fan favourites, and instead fixed its gaze on new album Luciferian Towers.

By their own exceptionally high standards, the record has been met with a slightly lukewarm reception, but there was nothing muted in the way they brought its immense, drone-laden opuses to life.

Presented before minimal lighting and murky, evocative projections, Godspeed's music has always struck a distinctive tone, its sheer scale and funeral pace conveying an intoxicating sense of impending apocalyptic doom.

Nowhere was this better displayed than Anthem For No State, an electrifying, nightmarish soundtrack played before dystopian scenes and visions of collapsing skies.

It was a marriage of sound and visuals which left their audience utterly transfixed, staring blankly into space while dense tides of noise raged and reverberated from all corners.

There were no 'thank yous' , few dynamic shifts and no encores to break the spell. Such was the majesty emanating from the stage, even the farcical scenes unfolding outside proved only a momentary distraction.

A force like few before or since, it was the type of gargantuan, mesmeric performance with which they've built their legacy, and testament as to why their status as post-rock royals remains beyond question.

Let's just hope they've not left under the impression that our region is cursed... a return visit can't come soon enough!