Leeds’s The Wharf Chambers is an interesting little venue, a worker’s co-op pub and music space which at first was a little bit difficult to find. But once you do there’s a feeling of going back in time, not only in feel but also prices, 70p for a pint of diet coke no less. I’m coming back here, definitely.
I’d been looking forward to this for some time. Dystopian Future Movies’ latest album was an absolute masterpiece, a contender for one of the best post-rock albums going. Opening the evening were Civil Service (the band) who had stepped up after Ricardo from Made of Regret (a band emerging from the ashes of Agvirre) unfortunately tested positive for the ‘Rona.
As the band starts to play the venue takes on new life, it might look like the tiny storeroom at the back of the pub with just enough room to concuss a cat; the lighting may be static and unmoving, but it provides the right ambience; but most of all, damn! It sounds wonderful in here. The warmth of tone is magical, combined with an evening of high-quality post-rock this is going to be a wonderful evening. If you were to look up the definition of an intimate gig, you’d see me standing in this venue happily supping on a 70p pint of coke
Civil Service (still the band) are very chilled out with a nice post-rock relaxed vibe, layers of synth and guitars, and even the cymbals sound like they’re shimmering in floating on cushions. I was momentarily saddened that seemingly early into the show they announced they only had 2 songs left, but then realised that given the genre that could feasibly leave a couple of weeks left. Their last song ‘Terminal’ was about someone dying of a terminal illness, but tonight was prophetically dedicated to the now-former PM Liz Truss, which brought many a wry chuckle from the audience.
Next up were a band I’d wanted to see for a long while too, Din of Celestial Birds, a band I’d heard of through many references to their talents from the Damnation forums. I can see why, soaring instrumental constructions are worthy of their moniker, they are majestic. Heavy as heck in a stateful manner and masters of build-up and release given extra life from that warmth of tone.
Their set was incredible really, intense, and deeply emotional, this was powerful right in the gut, at an almost spiritual level. The crystal-clear PA delivered nuance in the sound perfectly, they built up in tone and power so wonderfully that towards the end of the set when the bass hit I felt like I’d just taken a punch to the chest from Dr. Strange and my soul almost. This was especially interesting as their bass player was ill tonight and a previous live recording was being played over the PA supporting the slow melding of 2 layered guitars, inevitable, and relentless like waves.
When Dystopian future movies took the stage, I could feel the emotional charge in the room. Anyone who had heard the album knew this would be something special, and ahead of the album launch the next week, this was to be the first time it had been performed live.
Opening up with a delicate, passionate performance of ‘She From Up The Drombán Hill’ the ten-minute spoken intro with Caroline Cawley scarcely contains the emotion of the piece, this tugged on the heartstrings, and when the riffs started to come in it went beyond mere words, this was a powerful experience.
As the first live performance, it wasn’t polished, but then something of this magnitude probably should never be polished. This art tells the story of a particularly harrowing part of human history and captures it perfectly tonight.
The depth, and darkness of this, make me realise the sheer range of the performers, it feels like only recently I had been watching their other band Church of the Cosmic Skull performing in Manchester, this in style and content is the polar opposite, but nonetheless engaging.
As it moves through the story of the album, this intensity is infectious and mesmerises the crowd, clear that they’re witnessing something special tonight. One for the ages, the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the first-ever live performance of a masterpiece. By the time it reaches track 4 ‘The Walls of Filth and Toil’ I’m lost in the moment entirely, this was raw, honest, authentic and intense again adding some serious depth by the sound system tonight.
By the time ‘A decent Class of Girl’ was played I felt I’d seen something truly special, one of the best albums I’ve ever heard inaugural performance, this is one for the ages. Indeed I got carried away to the point I spent a small fortune on merch, having entirely forgotten I’d bought the same online not long before.
Buy music and merch from Dystopian Future Movies here:
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE