God Is An Astronaut @ Theatre Fairmount – 28th September 2019

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God Is An Astronaut in Montreal

And so the curtain comes down on an epic September of unmissable gigs with the long-awaited return of Irish post-rock 5-piece God Is An Astronaut.  Actually, “post-rock” is a lazy label – there’s no question that these guys occupy a niche all of their own.  Whereas many of that genre can fill 10, 15, even 20 minutes with one song, God Is An Astronaut have a huge repertoire of 4, 5, 6-minute songs that render their brand of post-rock much more punchy and concise.  As if to compensate for the shorter songs, their sound, for the most part, is significantly heavier than their post-rock peers, to such an extent that “post-metal” is surely a more accurate tag.

It’s a packed Theatre Fairmount that greets their arrival on stage, and after a swirling delicate intro, drums ignite and guitars explode on Epitaph, with frontman Torsten Kinsella adding soft, angelic (but always unintelligible) vocals over the top of it all.  Sludgy bass and twinkly keys combine to devastating effect on Mortal Coil.  Torsten is genuinely grateful for the reception: “we’re God Is An Astronaut from Ireland, thank you so much for the support!”  After The End Of The Beginning follows a similar formula with its dominant bass, echoing keys and soft howling vocals, Frozen Twilight sounds almost post-apocalyptic in comparison, with those same soft vocals of Torsten suddenly exploding into a frantic battery of drums. 

All Is Violent, All Is Bright ups the ante even more, with thunderous drums pummeling the senses in conjunction with flashing strobe lights and roaring guitars around the stage, before a much more tranquil Fragile provides a softer moment for all to catch their breath.  Torsten wisely introduces many of the songs by name beforehand, since there are no lyrics for the casual attendee to remember them by! 

Forever Lost is a special moment in the set, with the gorgeous piano solo that starts it bearing an unmistakable fragility that somehow manages to display a range of emotions in conjunction with Torsten’s howls and Lloyd Hanney’s drums which arrive soon after.  Suicide By Star is Lloyd’s shining moment though, starting off a simple tapping drum beat reminiscent of Paranoid Android by Radiohead that slowly morphs into a thunderous twin bass-drum barrage.  It’s the heaviest moment of the set for sure, and vindicates the “post-metal” label I gave them earlier!

From Dust To The Beyond sees strobe lights blaze directly into the eyes of many of the audience (myself included), forcing you to close them and take in the song exclusively through an auditory route, which suddenly makes the thunderous bass stand out even more; it’s absolutely enormous.  Centralia provides a perfect conclusion to the main set, with a final barrage of visceral riffs and some more deep, dirty bass.

Upon returning to the stage, Torsten is once again effusive in his gratitude: “thank you so much, it’s an absolute honour to be here!”  After a storming run-through of this tours usual encore song Helios | Erebus, Montreal is treated to an extra song in the form of Echoes to close out the storming 90-minute set for good.  An absolutely stellar return to Montreal for God Is An Astronaut.

Setlist

  • 1.       Epitaph
  • 2.       Mortal Coil
  • 3.       The End Of The Beginning
  • 4.       Frozen Twilight
  • 5.       All Is Violent, All Is Bright
  • 6.       Fragile
  • 7.       Seance Room
  • 8.       Medea
  • 9.       Forever Lost
  • 10.   Suicide By Star
  • 11.   From Dust To The Beyond
  • 12.   Centralia

Encore

  • 13.   Helios | Erebus
  • 14.   Echoes

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Alex Rene

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