Live at Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday, 2nd November 2005
After a feeding frenzy to buy tickets back in the heady days of summer, I was expecting a wee bit more excitement amongst the gig-goers for this one. Sure, there was a hundred or two queuing outside... but it all felt very restrained as we smugly walked past the hopefuls and into the Brudenell Social. Perhaps it was something to do with the notable absence of a support band (although Explosions In The Sky were down as 'special guests' on paper, only a fool would regard the night as anything but a double header), but despite some subtle leftfield electronica playing in the background, it was all very well mannered.
Explosions In The Sky entering the stage in a so-shy-it-hurts fashion didn't help this initial feeling - you'd have been forgiven for mistaking them for the feyest roadies in the business. But bless 'em, because they then proceeded to give us an exceptional hour-long set of the most emotive (post?) rock on this planet. Despite their musical ability, Explosions are the "here's three chords, now form a band" members of the post-rock camp - the rise and fall of the music affects you in the most direct and euphoric way that their peers (stand up Mogwai, God Speed You Black Emperor and the rest of the clan) can't begin to match. I may get mocked for saying this in general public, but even their most prog-rock moments feel like they're here for a distinct and singular purpose. Perhaps the best indicator of their skills is the fact that they manage to do all this without overly resorting to plaintive introspection - which is much more than any other band of this ilk can claim.
Four Tet took to the stage as the polar opposite mood to what had gone before settled on the Brudenell crowd - whereas the Texans had begun to play to a calm but politely expectant bunch, Mr. Tet had to entertain people who had just been taken as high as you can by three guitars and a drum-kit and were in danger of heading back down to Earth again rapidly. A notable few had in fact decided to leave it at that and were heading for the door - not what you'd normally expect for the official main attraction. But to his credit, the guy poured his heart and soul in to those two laptops in much the same way Explosions had in to their instruments. Clicks, beeps, static and off-kilter beats melded with traditional instrumentation and flailed widely between electronica, free-jazz, hip hop and folk to hit a series of short-lived genre mid-points. It was far more engaging than the component parts would have you believe... but the only problem is that Four Tet is the reverse of the old cliché - his music makes more sense on record than on stage, and his admirable effort to make a laptop gig as 'live' as possible only compounds this fact. He still manages to leave a happy crowd though.