Live Reviews, Rock — April 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

An Evening with God – Godspeed You! Black Emperor Live in HK


It took me a long time to put my thoughts together and try to write something a bit more developed than “this concert was amazing”. Canadian experimental post-rock outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor played in Hong Kong last Monday night at The Vine Church in Wan Chai. When the news came in, I was quite amazed: a perfect place for a mythical band. I never thought I would see them live in my whole life, this kind of unreachable band – I like to tell myself stories. My friend Sam from Love Da Records thought I was coming to Hong Kong to attend a conference about God (he’s a hip hop kid, please excuse him). In fact, it was in a modern church that looked like a normal auditorium, so the feel was not that elevated, but the sound was clear, and nobody – standing or seated on the tier – was too far away from the stage. The crowd patiently waited for a few hours, queuing along a small dead end in the chilled evening, then inside the venue. The sound-check finished later than expected, and fortunately, the concert begun right when the grumpiness was about to touch me.


I don’t know if it is possible to describe a gig from GY!BE properly. That will sound gross, but it is like physically experimenting the music with your body. This is only the third time it happened to me: first with Austrian experimental musician Peter Rehberg, second with German DJ D.I.M., where all my senses were so brisk that some kind of third dimension superimposed to the actual scenery.

Godspeed You!’s music is quite intellectual, a little political, and very well constructed. The double Super8 projection on the backdrop adds a lot to that feel. Fluttering enough, the bobbins’ sound can be heard during the quiet moments. Through footage and archives, the band transported us to prisons, other dark places and through classified files, on a train dashing by raw landscapes, to the mysterious house from the cover of Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, and to the streets with demonstrators fighting for their rights. All these images had a nostalgic, past tinge, but at the same time were reawaking or echoing present international events and challenging the audience’s passivity. My view was not that clear, but the eight-person band’s equanimity on stage added certain seriousness to the subject.


The evening’s momentum was the closing ‘Moya’, one of GY!BE’s most powerful track, and my personal favourite. Everything pieced back together, and this delectable moment made me forget the less empowering ‘Gathering Storms’ – which gave me twenty long minutes to think about the fact that humans are not made to stand hours without moving.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor will certainly never fade, or leave weary, because their music explores too many aspects of an individual while being universal, and timeless. And that’s not something you come across very often. Maybe this concert was some kind of God conference in the end.