Some cynics may argue that playing a classic album live is a sign of creative decline. Given their recent output, it’s difficult to level that accusation at …Trail of Dead, their new music proving to be as engaging and essential as their old. The second of two shows at Dingwalls sees the band showcasing 2002's Source Tags & Codes album in full.
Pitchfork famously gave the album a perfect 10⁄10 upon release, describing it as “dense, beautiful, intricate, haunting, explosive, and dangerous”. Debatably, …Trail of Dead have made better albums, (Worlds Apart, Tao of the Dead, even this year’s IX all have a claim) but most fans agree that Source Tags & Codes was a turning point from the youthful, acerbic, punk-fuelled energy of early days to the dense, prog-inspired odysseys of the band’s later career.
The crushing delivery of It Was There That I Saw You sends the crowd into a frenzy, the pit a swirling mass of bodies and limbs. It’s a joy to hear deeper cuts from the album such as the title track, and a stirring version of Heart in the Hand of the Matter, but the highlight has to be an absolutely beautiful rendition of How Near, How Far, backed up by the entire crowd singing the vocal refrain. It’s a truly extraordinary moment and the smile on Conrad Keely’s face says it all.
The response to songs from the band’s latest opus _IX _is rather more subdued, which is a shame, because tracks such as A Million Random Digits and The Lie Without a Liar are the equal of anything that’s been aired in the previous 45 minutes. With time, these new songs should receive the reception they so richly deserve.
A raucous unhinged and frankly stunning performance of Will You Smile Again? rouses the crowd back to a manic state before the band swiftly exit. Cries for more erupt from the audience and Conrad sheepishly explains that fellow …Trail of Dead cohort Jason Reece is feeling ‘unwell,’ although the fact that they’re 10 minutes over curfew may have something to do with the rest of the band’s reluctance to return to the stage. Conrad gamely performs a solo rendition of Cauterwaul to sate the baying crowd. The song may lack its distinct power and bounce without the backing of drums, bass and a second guitar, but this unique rendition of the song makes for a wonderful — if unusual — end to a remarkable night.