|Image by Yvonne Forster.|
The Gnod gig at The Lexington was on a Saturday so I had a bit of spare time in that London and ended up in the National Portrait Gallery at an exhibition of Leon Golub's work on the effects of hubris and power on the human face. A little while later, on the South Bank, I watched as a man with a tannoy conducted an interesting exercise in trying to provoke people, who wanted a quiet drink, into engaging in a discussion about the state of the country-an oddly timed attempt to 'wake people up'.Then, via Camden, it was off to a sold out gig near the Angel, it was an interestingly mixed audience for Gnod, a healthy gender split and age spread, an impressive Mohican, a variety of beards, some old guys with their ears to the musical ground, a girl in a t-shirt proclaiming 'Boyfriends are Overrated'.
Support band were Blood Sport from Sheffield who played a non stop set of excellent funk tinged danceable post modern rock that went down really well and left me wondering just how many exciting, creative bands there must be in the world! Must check out their album.
Gnod came on at about 9.45 as scheduled and played the most finely honed, perfectly executed hour of relentless, ferocious, wall of sound rock that I think I've ever witnessed.
In the past I have seen Motorhead in their Overkill/Bomber prime, Atari Teenage Riot, in fact ATR supported by Gum Takes Tooth(!), and Einsturzende Neubauten. I didn't have a decibel counter at any of the gigs so I can't claim Gnod were technically louder but they were more intense, more overwhelming, more powerful. A few bands I've seen have come close to this level of intensity for a patch, EN and PIL spring to mind, but that was just for sections of their set. Gnod maintained an incredibly focused, intense level of sonic attack for the whole hour. But Gnod's intensity wasn't about turning every thing up it was about transposing and channelling responses of empathetic frustration and legitimate anger at life in modern Britain into a music that adequately expresses that pain and rage and the dread that that rage might turn out to be impotent.
In the Old Testament particularly the figure of the prophet reoccurs whose message often included railing against the injustices, oppressions and inequalities of their societies-predicting the downfall of the powerful and the freeing of the oppressed. At points in their set, with a bearded Paddy Shine straight ahead of me Gnod reminded me of a secular counterpart to those figures, both confronting power and giving voice to the pain of the struggling.
Gnod's set was made up of tracks from Mirror and new material, which presumably is the foundation for their next album- if tonight was anything to go by it's going to be a corker, with the last track on the night being as punk as it gets, it made 'Never Mind the Bollocks' sound like a collection of nursery rhymes! And deep in the mix of this wall of noise were the vocals, hard to hear, half hidden, fragments glimpsed-one song seemed to be questioning hegemonic masculinity and in an earlier song I made out (I think) 'I want to be a stick in the wheel not a cog in the machine', amazingly within hours I'd received a completely independent tweet quoting the same thought but by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed after being involved in an assassination attempt against Hitler, Bonhoeffer said 'We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself' (1).
Last night, in an hour of ferocious goodness, Gnod echoed those sentiments.