[Live Report] Neurosis + Earth @ Koko (London)

To celebrate their thirty first anniversary as a band, Neurosis had set up two shows in London with two of their influences opening… If that’s not the proof of their standing as one of the most important band of the last three decades, i don’t know what else could prove it to you.

The first night was opened by Earth and the second by the Subhumans and Discharge, no less. Unwilling to see Neurosis twice in a row (an heresy, i know, but i’m not a fan although i appreciate what the band does), I only opted to see them on this first night to enjoy Earth and enjoy I did. Dylan Carson‘s band now consist of two other member, Bill Herzog on bass and Adrienne Davies on drums, but the main focus is still on the circular composition created around his guitar riffs. No matter how heavy the songs are, or what his band mates play, Carson‘s riffs possess a unique quality that make them as addictive as dub. You don’t dance to Earth but you bob your head and you let the atmosphere soak into you. Much like Sleep, Earth is the equivalent of throwing yourself into a bag of soft feathers. The impact is not violent but the feeling travels through your body nonetheless. On this occasion, just like when i saw them open for SunnO))) in Paris in 2008, they sounded splendid and songs like The bees made honey in the lion’s skull, High command or the new untitled song showcased exclusively all shined thanks to a perfect balance of softness and heaviness.

Despite my many friend’s admiration for the band, I have never shared their passion for Neurosis. The prestigious and legendary legacy of their shows probably prepared me for a different show than I experienced in 2013, leaving me unsatisfied and frankly disappointed. On this occasion, at the Parisian festival La Villette Sonique, they showcased none of the anger and heaviness I was expecting. This occasion was for me a time not to celebrate but to discover the band as it is truly meant to be appreciated, with their back catalog played with conviction. Considering the playlist they played on this night, which was supposed to be exceptional, i could have left disappointed if I had come for a unique show.

Thankfully for me, but maybe disappointingly for other fans, this set list was only exceptional for the quality of the sound. Thanks to the excellent sound at Koko and the obvious determination displayed by the band, i was finally able to appreciate their material as it should be. All members are now well into their forties but Neurosis’ songs always possessed a timelessness similar to folk, country or blues. Music meant to be played by musicians deeply involved in their craft. As their latest release proved, they also have aged gracefully and they showed them by devoting more than half of their set-list to their recent outputs. Given to the rising, Bending light and Fire is the end lesson stood their ground next to Stones from the sky and Lost, which provoked a mosh pit in front of the stage, although Broken ground, towards the end of the set, made me loose some of the interest i had in the set. Thankfully, the inclusion of Locust star, the most recognizable and immediate song Neurosis ever wrote, brought back the intensity just at the end to finish the night.

Even if they didn’t play the kind of setlist i imagined for a show celebrating their whole career, Neurosis still played an excellent show, although not an exceptional one. The setting still provided an occasion for the band to shine at it’s best with one of the best rock venue in London, and one of the best for slow and heavy music (as proven by the brilliant sets played by Monolord and Elder during this year’s Desertfest).

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