Thursday, 25 May 2017

Broken Social Scene:It's all gonna break.

If you were to make a Venn diagram of Broken Social Scene fans and Ariana Grande fans it's probably fair to say the central intersection would not be particularly heavily populated. But any music fan knows that the gig going experience is pretty much the same across the board. It's just as much about meeting up with your friends, dressing up, and/or having a few drinks as it is about the music. The music acts as a conduit to bring like minded people together. Virtually all my friendships are predicated, in some way, around a love of music. The friendships are the most important part but sometimes the music does the heavy lifting.

Until events at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015 and Manchester this week the worst fears of gig-goers were overpriced drinks and missing the last train home. As Salman Abedi murdered more children in a matter of minutes than Ian Brady ever did in his lifetime that all changed. Now, like flying on a plane or taking a tube, people have been made to feel insecure in the environments they once felt most safe. Hatred will only fuel those bastards and reasoning will never work with such twisted ideologies. All we can do is carry on taking tubes to gigs and meeting up with our friends. In fact we should do it more. They want war, murder, and hatred. Let's not give it to them. Let's show them something they really can't stand:- love, kindness, dancing and music. Not to them. But to each other.

Broken Social Scene had been in Manchester the night before they arrived at Brixton Academy and it had clearly been a highly emotional night for all concerned. Kevin Drew was way more chatty than normal, as if he needed to talk. He only referred a couple of times directly to what had happened (including a dedication of the song Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl) but his incitement of the crowd to show love to each other clearly came down from Manchester with him.

It was a bold decision, and one that handsomely paid off, to kick off the set with Lover's Spit, possibly their best known, slowest, and, yes, most emotional song. It released a warm glow into the room that only occasionally let up during the next two hours. Broken Social Scene play long sets. There's a lot of them. At times there were four guitarists on stage.

On tracks like the jet propelled, almost motorik, 7/4 Shoreline and Fire Eye'd Boy those guitarists put in a shift. One of the things that make Broken Social Scene so endearing live, though, is that they always look like they're having fun, enjoying their work. Witness Brendan Canning, foot on the monitor, thrusting his guitar skywards as if to both mock, and celebrate, all those guitar heroes that went before him.
Sometimes the noise all four of them make adds up to one J Mascis (Cause=Time being a prime example), occasionally they drift into noodling but they always pull it back both quickly and deftly. Drew and Canning run a tight ship but allow other members of the band their moment in the limelight. Baseball capped Emily Haines and Julie Penner get to dominate sections of the gig, not least on the almost r&b flavoured Hug of Thunder, and stop it from getting too 'boys with their toys'.

New material like Protest Song and Skylines are decent, certainly a lot better than the tunes many returning bands serve up, and will probably soon grow into crowd favourites but the air of determined celebration of music in the aftermath of tragedy rendered old classics like Lover's Spit, Texico Bitches (from the school of slanted and enchanted leftfield rock), and set closer Almost Crimes the standouts of the evening. Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day) goes as far as to pay tribute to one of those leftfield rock influences and Backyards, with it's rippling keyboard flourishes, could almost serve as a tribute to Grandaddy's recently prematurely deceased Kevin Garcia.
I had a lovely evening out with my friends Darren and Ian, we ate great Brazilian food in Brixton before the gig, we had a couple of pints in the scorching sunlight, we spent an evening listening to wonderful music, and then I took the bus home safe and sound. Thanks to cunts like Salman Abedi a child one-sixth of my age never arrived, and never will arrive, back home from her concert this week.

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