Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cathedral Farewell Show

With the better capacity to capture and reproduce cultural expressions, any new generation is faced not only with a bigger amount of culture than the last, but a bigger rate of cultural creation than before. Most of us, even in exploring small sections of the cultural landscape, will not adequately explore even that.

I discovered Cathedral after they released their most recent album: The Guessing Game - very late on the Cathedral timeline. So when I found out they were calling it quits after this tour, I didn't have the sentiment to have to see them, but the desire to see them while there was the chance to. Combined with Paradise Lost, whose last two albums rate among my favourite releases of the last 5 years, I eagerly anticipated this show.

Opening were Finnish "battle metal" band, Turisas. I had heard their latest album: Stand Up And Fight a couple of times, it's got some nice moments but doesn't do much for me. Live, however, the songs really come into their own. It's high energy, entertaining stuff, and when they finished after 5 frenetic fun tracks later, it felt far too short. Though there were some issues (at least from my vantage point) from the music being too loud where the reverberation of the venue drowned out any otherwise discernible sounds that should have been there.

Paradise Lost were probably the band I was the most excited to see, and I wasn't alone. I heard one member of the crowd speculate that Paradise Lost were the main drawcard of the gig (not for him, just fullstop). I was disappointed in advance that they were only getting 45 minutes, though it didn't feel shortchanged. The setlist was excellent, opening with the opening track of Draconian Times and playing a good mix of old and new. The new track sounded good (search for a dodgy version on Youtube, there were enough camera-phones out all through their set), so I'm excited for their upcoming album already. Compared to Turisas and Cathedral their performance lacked some flair, but what else should one expect given their music? I really hope they do a headline tour for their new album.

I don't really know how to describe Cathedral. I went into the gig without any preconceptions or expectations, and came out very satisfied with what I had witnessed. Their vocalist was great as a frontman, putting energy where he could into the performance, and revving up the crowd when it didn't quite seem energised enough. Not that the lack of energy would have been a bad thing, musically there was more than enough to excite and amaze, but the theatrical demanded more energy and the crowd obliged. Though my personal high moment was the jam at the end of Carnival Bizarre, where I was truly lost in the music. Their set lasted 1 hour, then 15 minutes of encore. A great set, and a great send-off for an amazing band. The diehard fans in the audience seemed satisfied, anyway, if the impression of a burgeoning fan isn't good enough.

It might be that Cathedral will join the ranks of the many bands doing reunion tours in the years to come. If that happens, I won't mind in the least, as this experience was in no way predicated on this being their final tour (merely an impetus for going). It's odd to contemplate, for me at least, how it was I came to discover them. Thanks to the capacity to record music, I could theoretically have discovered them at any time. It's conceivable that their upcoming swansong The Last Spire would have been what introduced me and I'd have been kicking myself for getting into them just too late. That's both the advantage to, and downside of, capturing cultural phenomena.

Whatever the case, this experience was a great reminder that performance is a part of music, and that part of the regret of missing out on seeing a band live is missing out on that component. And too, perhaps, sharing that experience with others. With Cathedral, I was fortunate enough not to miss my chance. But I'm sure as I continue to explore the vast and deep cultural landscape that I'll find times where I won't be so fortunate. To me, it's reason enough to seize the moment when it's there.

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