Though they’ve never really been that great at between-song chat, it’s difficult not to empathise with guitarist/keyboardist Joe Shrewsbury when, shaking his head, he declares, “What a week! What a month! What a year!” And he doesn’t mean that in a good way…
Indeed, with a world that feels as if it’s started to revolve backwards on its axis, the post-rock quartet’s playing here has a fervour that’s several notches above their usual standard. The material isn’t so much played as attacked, pummelled and disciplined.
Applying brute, physical force to his drums, Rob Jones is on his feet between the mighty beats that usher in Crash Tactics. Punching the air, he keeps time with a deadly precision, crashing back down on his seat to administer merciless whacks to the kit.
Similarly, when not hunkered down and furiously bobbing over their static instruments, the frontline of Shrewsbury, guitarist/keyboardist Paul Wolinski and bassist/keyboardist Simon Wright move around the stage as if the floor was on fire. Witness the methodical build-up of Unmake The Wild Light that’s then blasted away like so much dust in the face of Wright’s fuzzing bass. But there’s also subtlety here – the band know the value of tension and release, and their ability to take the audience with them on an epic journey remains undiminished.
A lot of ire is heaped upon the lawyers who, according to Shrewsbury, held up the release of the No Man’s Sky soundtrack by a year. So it is that Asimov is described as a “passive-aggressive homage” to them, while displaying precisely that emotion. This is music that ebbs and flows, rises and falls, while refusing to surrender to notions of conventionality and pedestrian ideas. And it hits hard exactly when it needs to.
Crucially, for music devoid of words, this isn’t an experience devoid of a narrative. Emotions are stoked – provoked even – while the band’s imagination is given free rein to roam unfettered and unencumbered.
But this isn’t mere escapism. “In the face of total arseholes running the world, you can only make some noise,” says Shrewsbury. And tonight, their noise is righteous.