Feb 16, 2008

Explosions In The Sky @ Manning Bar

Intense. Intense. Intense. Intense. Men pushing guitars to places unknown. Flying shards, of noise. Movement. Beauty. Spiritual. Beauty. Wailing. Inhaling. No end. A finish. A connection. The connection. Concentrated. Consuming. Powerful. Profound. Impassioned. Extraordinary. Peering into the abyss, seeing things not seen before. Feelings not felt before. Shaking. Smiling. Untold pleasures. Well, I tell these to you. I share these with you. Supreme. Unforgettable. Last night. Four men, thank you. My heart thanks you.

I feel speechless. Last night at the Manning Bar was everything and more. Explosions in the Sky touched my heart like no other. How does music with no voice become as intense an emotional experience as one can ever feel? Well, if four men walk onto a stage and play, without a break, for well over an hour. Play with more inspiration and sensibility then any band I have ever seen, that just might be the answer. Munaf Rayani introduced the band and thanked every one for coming, with great empathy and heart. Then they played, and oh how they played. It became one big blur for me, I was riding wave after emotional wave. They pushed and pulled me to areas unknown. I can categorically state that I have never seen a band play with this sort of intensity before. But it wasn't brutal, it was almost spiritual. A bright, burning beauty. Four men seeking the light on the hill, spiralling upwards and onwards. Their instruments spoke, to us. With clarity and a crystal clear purpose. Perfection was the goal and it was achieved. Michael James took his place in the middle of the stage, his stance strong and definite. He swapped between bass and guitar. Swapping between gentle and kind, between murderous and defiant. Mark Smith was positioned on his right, staunch and unrelenting, a perfect counterpoint. Chris Hrasky sat at his drum kit, ready to support and deliver the killer blows. And in front of me was Munaf Rayani. If you ever desire to find out what sort of emotional grip music can place on you, then watch Munaf play. He is a soulful, spiritual creature. Swaying to the rhythms he is creating, sometimes kneeling to play, he feels each and every note. And we felt it, felt it in our bones. Felt it in our hearts. Felts it in the smiles, permanently creased on our faces. So many wonderful moments. Unforgettable ones. The bone shaking drums on "Welcome, Ghosts", the simultaneous shredding of guitars on "Memorial", the sheer audacity of "The Birth and Death of the Day" and the almost inhuman greatness of "The Only Moment We We Alone" which built climax upon climax till I was barely able to breathe. The four men placed their instruments down, spent, finished, exulted. No encore, no need, there was nothing left to give. Explosions in the Sky make the cynical uncynical, the unloving loving, the dispassionate passionate. The unrewarded, rewarded. Bliss.

Set List*
Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean
Welcome, Ghosts
With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept
The Birth and Death of the Day
It's Natural To Be Afraid
Catastrophe and the Cure
The Only Moment We Were Alone

*I had awful trouble keeping the set list in my mind. I am sure I have made mistakes in the content or order. My mind was melting down at times. Any corrections would be welcome.

Eluvium, from Portland provided support. Despite a short set and some chatter, his music was enthralling and moving. A most unassuming man, no chat what so ever, his music was certainly not unassuming. He played five pieces, switching between guitar and keyboards, with his Mac in support. My favourite was the almost hypnotic "Taken".

I have more photos of this special night at my Flickr.


  • At February 17, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Glad to hear it was everything you hoped it would be, Wayne! I had heard mixed things from the gig and I was waiting to hear/read your thoughts as I know you'd been waiting for this one for AGES.

  • At February 17, 2008 , Blogger Wayne Massingham said...

    Sean, I was just so happy that they not only lived up to my expectations, but exceeded them. Just phenomenal. This live music year just keeps getting better.

  • At February 19, 2008 , Blogger seanbelling said...

    Great review
    I absolutley loved the show, had the biggest smile on my face as I was leaving. Best gig of the year so far

  • At February 19, 2008 , Blogger Wayne Massingham said...

    No doubt, Sean. I thought Arcade Fire would be hard to beat, but this topped it. Will be hard to beat for gig of the year.

  • At March 07, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I got to this concert waaay late. I thought I could pull off going to PJ Harvey first and then EITS (had PJ tickets already when eits went on sale.) It was all looking good timewise but PJ started late and it took aaages to get out of the opera house carpark so I only caught the last 25 minutes. Very sad but better than nothing. I did however record what I saw so To help your set list order the last 3 songs were
    - Six Days...
    - Catastrophe
    - The only moment

    Last two were right but 6 days was before them

    If anyone knows of a full recording out there I would love to hear what I missed. Contact me through the website.


  • At March 07, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I mean my website - www.themysteryguest.com

  • At March 24, 2009 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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