God Is An Astronaut

support n/a
author LF date 06/09/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

As is the case with many bands I choose to review, the mostly instrumental Irish post-rock band, or space rock as they call themselves, God Is An Astronaut is a band whose music I have only been familiar with for about a year. Thus their newest release "Helios | Erebus" is the record of theirs I know best and, as it turns out, that is not the worst kind of position to be in for their show tonight. The band plays five out of eight of the new songs in addition to some of the very best songs from their career spread out across albums and thus we get a tour de force of what really makes God Is An Astronaut a great band.

All pictures by Philip B. Hansen

God Is An Astronaut

From the very beginning of the show, the band seem very focused. As they get on stage, guitarist and vocalist Torsten Kinsella only briefly introduces them before they get right into the atmospheric build-up of the first song tonight, "When Everything Dies". The four members cover drums, bass and guitars in addition to a keyboard and an electronic pad setup that guitarist Jamie Dean controls through the show. Besides these instruments, they make use of a very present backing track for electronic drum effects and general ambience and they make tremendously good use of some of the longer ambient intros to some of their songs for tuning guitars and the like - not wasting any time between songs either. It's not that they seem tense or especially introverted on stage - they do provide us with little comments and song introductions here and there - rather they come across as an intensely focused band very intent on providing the best versions of their songs that they can possibly muster.

The band's music is very emotional and cinematic in the way it parallels the huge movements of space and the astrological bodies that some of their titles refer to. Their performance tonight embraces this well with songs that rise and fall in big, swooping movements while varying from very quiet, almost ambient pieces to very rhythmic and heavy, headbang-worthy ones, all this with greatly varying tempos across songs and dynamic rhythmic shifts. In this live setting though, the huge riffs they have really come to the fore of the songs, sometimes dominating massively over the more atmospheric, dreamy aspects in their music which can otherwise carry me away completely when listening to the songs on record. Many times I'm banging my head and grooving about in awe of the catchiness and immensity of the guitar work that is written into these tracks more so than because any part of the performance tonight really captures me emotionally. Had the band for instance included visuals in their performance as I know they sometimes do, the songs might have had more of that kind of impact on me, allowing me to just float with my senses into the sounds. So while their music itself is impressive in its effective simplicity and the band does a good job playing it tonight, I think their songs have the capacity for even more in the live department, perhaps even for entering a realm of what you might call transcendental experience.

Setlist:

  • 1. When Everything Dies
  • 2. Echoes
  • 3. Vetus Memoria
  • 4. Point Pleasant
  • 5. World In Collision
  • 6. Helios Erebus
  • 7. The Last March
  • 8. From Dust to the Beyond
  • 9. Pig Powder
  • 10. Centralia
  • 11. Forever Lost
  • 12. Agneya

- Encore

  • 13. Transmissions
  • 14. Suicide by Star

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