Having recently blown me away at Damnation Festival, I was particularly looking forward to seeing Sinistro a second time in little over a week. Their last album Semente (Seasons of Mist) has been getting a lot of listens since seeing them at Damnation last week.
Picked out on Gorilla’s with a bright spotlight Patricia Andrade sets a particularly striking image. Demonstrating her acting background, she effortlessly shifts gears between a wide range of emotions from elation to heartbreak, both powerful and yet somehow fragile at the same time. There’s a real sense that she’s baring her soul to the audience which adds to emotional impact of their lush riff laden soundscape they produce.
Playing mainly from their latest album Semente the rest of the band are by contrast shrouded mainly in darkness around the periphery of the stage, as they produce a set rich with powerful guitar tones. Driven along by a driving rhythm which was equally as mesmerising as the vocal performance. Sinistro set the bar high for the rest of the gig and the crowd responded accordingly with loud applause. I cannot wait to see them again.
The increasingly cramped crowd were now warmed up very nicely indeed and generously greeted Alcest as they took to a stage thick with mist and dimly lit with dark blue and green light. I’ve seen them before more than once and they never fail to impress. Tonight, it was clear they’ve upped their game considerably, which by their own standards is no mean feat indeed.
The effect on the audience was palpable as Alcest’s “dream pop” sound crashed over them in waves, the rumbling bass vibrating the packed-out venue, whilst the guitar led soundscapes and vocals wove their way throughout the venue. The crowd taking the opportunity to reward even the shortest of pauses with appreciative applause.
The effect was hypnotic, particularly during the sections with almost trance inducing, almost binaural, blast beats causing the audience not only to nod their heads along but at certain points break into dance: which is probably the post-rock equivalent of a mosh pit.
Alcest’s sound can transport you to a different world. The kind of world that exists mainly in album covers. Such is their prowess at crafting this aural imagery that it’s easy to become completely carried away in the moment. The band perform shrouded in mist and blue-green light and the air in the venue is majestic and magical and evokes a sense of wonder…
Their set was life affirmingly good, and the audience were prone to long lingering applause which at the announcement that ‘Deliverance’ would be their last song became a chorus of boos. Finishing on what felt like a choir of angels Alcest finished their beautiful set. My only criticism of the sound would be that the vocals were a little too low in the mix for the very soft-spoken Neige.
In a year, which has seen so many good gigs and highlights such as recently witnessing Yob playing ‘Marrow’, I think that probably the one which has given me the most joy would have to be seeing co-headliners Mono opening their set with ‘Ashes in the Snow’ from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (Temporary Residence Ltd).
The collected audience are rammed into the heaving venue like sardines at this point, and the absence of a photo pit made it almost impossible to move around. So, I contented myself with taking up a spot at the front and going along for the ride.
Even though Mono play almost exclusively seated, the intensity of their performance is still an impressive sight. Most obviously main guitarist Taka is very soon collecting a pool of sweat at his feet from the sweat pouring from his contorting face due to the sheer effort and passion he’s putting into his playing.
From the Glockenspiel intro of ‘Ashes In The Snow’ right through to the last track ‘Requiem For Hell’ this was a stunning performance which ebbed and flowed, built and crashed with a feeling somewhere between classical music and the soundtrack to a Lars von Trier movie.
In a year of fantastic gigs, this must be one of the best, and Mono’s and Alcest’s spellbinding sets will easily go down as one of the best set’s I have ever experienced. If I had one criticism of the night, it is simply that £4 for a pint of Diet Coke can fuck right off.