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Sunn O))) and Final, Crawdaddy, Dublin, 17th October 2006

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Having seen both these acts separately, I had a good idea of what to expect from the night’s performances. However, I didn’t expect both Final and Sunn O))) to sound so much better than they did previously. The stage may have been cramped and a lot of the crowd may have been more interested in the merchandise stall but last night was a night to remember.


Justin Broadrick’s Final as support was a nice treat. Broadrick came out on his own armed with a guitar, a Mac, a Pod guitar modelling unit and a mighty amp stack. He played only one or two notes briefly before looping and manipulating the sound using his electronic gadgets. The performance took a few minutes to get going properly, as he seemed to have trouble finding his feet. When the music gathered momentum it was incredible. I could feel the hairs on my head being pushed back by the bass frequencies; it was loud but not painfully so. Towards the end of his set the venue itself was rattling, had he kept it up I’m certain the vent above me would have come loose. The crowd was quite restless before Broadrick started, it felt like they were only there for Sunn O))) but when he finished it was obvious he had won most of them over.

Sunn O))) took to the stage slowly with only half the band appearing to start the proceedings. Broadrick developed a guitar refrain that sounded like sheet metal being torn as Mark D scraped and tapped his bass. Vocalist Attila Csihar joined them at the front of the fog-laden stage and sitting in a lotus position. He began what can only be described as an invocation of pure evil. Throughout the performance he shifted from ghastly high pitched shrieks to chanting in a key that was deeper than the bowels of hell. His years as one of the top black metal performers have served him well as he grabbed the crowd’s attention with not only his singing but also his gesturing, which thankfully never crossed the line into cheesy posturing.

After a few minutes of this quiet but unsettling introduction, the rest of the band marched out on stage. Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley assumed their positions in front of their huge stack of amps, filling the low end with their guitars in a way most bass players would envy. They began riffing and the rest of the band joined in. This current incarnation of Sunn O))) sees their ranks expanded to seven; in addition to all the guitars and amps there was also a bowed electric upright bass and a Moog Rogue synth. With all this on stage I was expecting the volume to be more immense than it was; it was intense but unlike the last time I didn’t need my earplugs.

The set was essentially an improvisation around a few of the motifs and pieces that have made their way onto Sunn O)))’s albums or previous live shows. With Attila on board the first quarter of an hour was quite similar to the “Decay” tracks from White 2. This eventually built up into a massive bass drone with Anderson and O’Malley riffing over it. Halfway through the set the sound went out and right on cue Attila launched into another bout of heavy vocals. It sounded perfectly planned but, as I realised later when the sound cut out another two times, it was due to faulty power sockets that were supplying the backline. Despite these technical hitches, the band quickly regained the ground that had been lost each time. A lot of bands might have thrown a hissy fit and stopped playing but everyone on stage just got back on that horse and built up the noise from the bottom again.

It’s been a few years since I got all gushy and fan-boyish at a gig but Sunn O))) and Final did it for me. Performances like this are all too rare but when they come it’s all the sweeter. An added bonus comes from the theatrical element to Sunn O)))’s set which is both ridiculous in a Spinal Tap sense yet when they get into a groove it becomes deadly serious and brings the show up from being just a gig to something religious. The only problem with seeing Sunn O))) live is that I can’t listen to their albums for a while without thinking that it’s just not loud enough.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 23:54  


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