Gig review – Explosions in the Sky, Metro Theatre 2011

It’s been four long years since Texans Explosions in the Sky last graced these shores and judging by the palpable sense of anticipation in this sold out crowd, it has been an agonising wait for many. For fans of heart-on-sleeve post rock there’s nobody better. While other bands of their ilk opt for chin-stroking, intellectual music or settle for impressive but ultimately unmoving displays of technical virtuosity , EITS aim for soul-soaring, heart-in-throat catharsis.

Tonight’s support, Sydneysiders Charge Group, proved an inspired choice as there’s something similar to the headliners in the way they use loud-soft dynamics and building momentum to take the listener somewhere emotional. In songs like Speakeasy Death Song they use space to great effect, the crescendos all the more powerful for their restraint that surrounds them. Broken Summer, meanwhile is a frail, pretty tune that hints at something darker lying beneath its surface. New song The Gold is Gone, from an EP due for release next year, plots a more conventional path, its sprawling guitar work reminiscent of some of the moodier Bluebottle Kiss work and adding another dimension to this always impressive outfit.

Following a mercifully short break between bands, the curtain draws (slowly and, in a comical anticlimax, incompletely) on Explosions in The Sky, guitars at the ready and a Texan flag proudly draped over an amp stack. De facto frontman Munaf Rayani says a few words and then for the next hour or so, they say absolutely nothing. It’s better this way, though – this is music that is so totally immersive and emotionally involving that it’s easy to forget where you are, to be completely, utterly, lost in the best way possible. The Only Moment We Were Alone is a stirring beginning, its graceful, slow build expertly rendered by a four-prong guitar attack.

Songs bleed into each other, riding waves of pure emotion and blissful cacophony. Time and again, their wild ambition and cinematic scope builds to satisfying emotional payoffs. The Birth and Death of the Day was triumphant and the symphonic Your Hand in Mine almost overwhelming. Catastrophe and The Cure is similarly grand, melodies flickering in and out of beautiful noise. This year’s Take Care, Take Care LP, their best work in years, is also well represented, with the likes of Let Me Back InLast Known Surroundings and Postcard from 1952 all being thrown into the mix. Finally, they’re sweat drenched and emotionally spent and Rayani farewells the crowd with some simple words of gratitude. As ever, he doesn’t need to say much – wordless as they are, these colossal songs speak volumes for themselves.

Originally appeared in: Faster Louder

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