65Days Of Static were the first live band that I wrote about ‘properly’, way, way back in 2006 in a rough and breathlessly hyperbolic account heavy on the adjectives and prone to the kind of gushing sentiment that should never have been committed to print, even if it was only in Eastbourne. Their sound isn’t so much post-rock as post-everything, I wrote at the time, presumably between sobs: attempting to describe the intensity of it with mere words alone makes me realise how inadequate words can be.
And yet sometimes only hyperbole will do. There were more than a few points during this evening’s show when I could have written the same: there were more still where I couldn’t write anything, where it was effort enough just to stay standing. Looking around at an audience stood silent, at a bar-staff stood bored in a venue ordinarily characterised by its noise, it would seem I wasn’t alone.
Most of the media coverage this tour has focused upon The Fall Of Math, the band’s first album now ten years old and being celebrated through a series of live play-throughs, such as the one at Koko last month that saw the four-piece performing two sets: the first the aforementioned debut in entirety and the second last year’s Wild Lights. It was a stunning show, a combative show, two hours of then and now aimed at placating the nostalgics whilst simultaneously silencing them: “Don’t look back,” said frontman Joe Shrewsbury ahead of the latter half, ahead of a performance that ensured that we wouldn’t.
Tonight’s set is more balanced, acknowledging that there have at least been other albums, but Shrewsbury’s sentiment looms large nonetheless: across a thirteen-song setlist only two are drawn from The Fall…, whilst with the exception of ‘Blackspots’ Wild Lights is aired in full. This isn’t just a simple skew towards newer songs: 65Days’ sound has changed markedly over a decade, embracing melancholy over static and melody over math, and the standout moments here are those that bleed the heart more than the ears.
There’s still a lot to bleed the ears, mind. ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ and ‘Install A Beak In The Heart That Clucks Time In Arabic’ wreak their usual cataclysm, whilst the bass alone on ‘Prisms’ and ‘Unmake The Wild Light’ could extract confessions. Noise layers on noise, guitars swell and synths pulse malevolently, drummer Rob Jones augmenting his own beats with digital ones to enhance the battery, the low ceiling and the black walls and the Guantanamo strobe compounding the effect. But once the tinnitus fades it’s not the volume that leaves the mark so much as the points inbetween: ‘The Undertow’s slow, sad piano, the electronic patter that closes ‘Sleepwalk City’, Paul Wolinski’s staggering, staggering fingerwork on ‘Radio Protector’.
Sure, there are a handful of people that call out for “More Math,” but the rest of us just let this whole sad symphony wash over us, this future noir of broken neon and acid rain, many with eyes closed and bodies held tight. There are few cameras, few phones: there’s no point in trying to capture this with screens and tinny speakers. There’s minimal production here, little stage presence and only halting audience interaction, but none of that matters – this is music that lives in the mind, these songs a stoker for imaginations trampled by the day to day and this sound a baptism of vigour and force and aching fragility, caustic yet cleansing. Hyperbole again? No, it’s not – it’s really not. There’s no exaggeration here at all.