Islington Mill, Salford 02/04/11
You may remember my recent review of Earth’s latest record, ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1’, and how massively unimpressed I was with it. Factor in the fact that Islington Mill is one of my least-favourite venues of all-time and that original support act Sabbath Assembly had pulled out and you can imagine exactly how ‘in the mood’ for tonight I was.
Thankfully for YOU, dear reader, things panned out in a much more enjoyable fashion. Okay, so it was hot, crowded with hipster-types upon whom my eyes have never previously set sight at any other gig of this type, and every other bastard in there was at least a foot taller than me and pig-ignorant BUT, I managed to enjoy the music nevertheless. Win one for me, and one each for Lori Goldston and Earth!
Without a hope in hell of actually SEEING anything, I concentrated almost entirely on the music that I was hearing. Doing double-duty tonight as a member of Earth AND as the support act, Lori Goldston took the stage quietly and proceeded to mesmerise and enthral the crowd with a set of keening cello lament. Creamy, thick, resonant tones poured forth from her bow and instrument in a beautifully restrained and artful way. The cello is always a gorgeous instrument to hear, and in the hands of a skilled musician such as Goldston, it positively sang tonight. Those low, moaning, mournful tones were juxtaposed with stacks and clusters of atonality, adding a great deal of bite to the overall sound. Wonderfully, for the most part, people managed not to talk incessantly through her set, which seemed to be a miracle in this day and age.
As Goldston poured forth those keening, see-sawing notes, the other members of Earth slipped onstage behind her as her set blended seamlessly into that of the main band. For the purposes of this latest tour Earth consists of mainstay Dylan Carlson, longtime drumming cohort Adrienne Davies, Goldston – all of whom performed on the latest record – and touring bassist Angelina Baldoz, making Earth ¾ female for the first time in the bands long history.
Playing a range of material that covered the bands entire history, albeit in radically altered form, but concentrating on the songs from ‘Angels of Darkness….’ , this latest live incarnation of Earth managed to project the newer material into a space that opened them up in a much wider way than in the recorded versions. Live, the material was transformed by Goldston’s cello assuming a greater prominence and the noticeable extra depth of Baldoz’ bass. Carlson’s guitar was as clear and plangent as a ringing bell, and gritty and dirty when it needed to be. ‘Father Midnight’, in particular of the new material, stood out for me as gaining a new vitality in the live format. I mean, when I say ‘vitality’, it still sounded like a sleepy river full of molasses, but it gained a lot of depth tonight.
Early in the set a track from the next album, ‘Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 2’ was played – entitled ‘A Multiplicity Of Doors’, it was built around a series of melancholy descending notes that were leavened with a brighter country blues-style riff and boded very well indeed for the forthcoming record. Other material aired tonight included the title track from ‘The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull’ and a languid version of the latest albums title track. Carlson took the mike between songs and made wry comments when introducing songs and band members, and this seemed to make the entire show feel somewhat more intimate. The show ended with the surprise inclusion of ‘Ourouborus Is Broken’ from the first Earth EP, albeit in it’s ‘Hibernaculum’ form, as opposed to the drone-metal juggernaut of old, which was greeted like an old friend.
So, despite not being able to see a damn thing, and despite my dislike of the new album, Earth more than capably won me back over and impressed me as much as ever, and in doing so managed to give me hope that I’ll enjoy their next album a whole lot more than their latest. I still don’t care for the venue though…..
Scribed by: Paul Robertson
Photos by: Lee Edwards