…And You Will Now Us By The Trail Of Dead and Alex Henry Foster lay waste to Manchester. We were at the front swatting off Foster sweat.
“Let’s do a gig without monitors.” Perhaps that explained the overpowering and defiant response from Conrad Keely, Jason Reece and their Trail Of Dead buddies to any onstage or front of house sound issues.
Perhaps also, the result to the impact of Alex Henry Foster, using the Night & Day monitor system as his personal playground. Loosening a grill that despite the rugged nature of onstage equipment, took one hell of a beating.
Foster and The Long Shadows’ three-song set – turning the less is more mantra on its head, more was definitely less – reinvented the notion of experimental and avant-garde/ don’t give a shit / post-rock/metal. The violin bowed guitar might have been a bit cliched, but with band members swapping instruments and concocting all manner of vibes from the mass of effects pedals, their set saw Foster creating and conducting soundscapes with Moog and electric tenor/four-string guitars. Don’t forget the trumpet and oh yes, sweating over those/us pressed up to the stage as he nudged the boundaries. Maybe just the microphone lead restraining his progress into the people.
However, for anyone unaware (‘unprepared’ may be more apt) of Alex Henry Foster, please don’t feel restrained by anything as mundane as mic leads. Simply get out and listen to his Windows In The Sky observations.
Having had the bar and the expectation set suitably high, Trail Of Dead didn’t make any attempt to clear it; they just battered it down. For Trail Of Dead, read ttrail of destruction. Monitor problems aside, you got the impression that Keely, Reece and co weren’t going to let any technical issues confine their delivery.
Unashamedly loud and thunderous, guitar strings tested to the limit, visibly vibrating from their efforts, the duo led from the front, dominating the stage and laying waste with a forceful vengence.
Yes, some of the finely crafted moments of their material may have been lost in the bluster, but this was a set more about living up to their name. Choices that gave vent to a relentless cacophony. Any moments of calm and respite, any finely picked guitar lines, were quickly dissolved to concentrate on creating a wall of noise where any vocal nuances were swallowed whole.
Songs that already held an explosive depth charge were given a fresh injection of venom. Punky thrash, barely shouted vocals and a blaze of triumph battling the odds. Maybe not to everyone’s taste, the live incarnation of Trail Of Dead is an intense and overwhelming experience. Mistakes? Maybe a few. Regrets? Too few to mention. Live for the moment and hang the consequences.
Into the godless void – the valley of death even – they may fly, but Trail Of Dead does it with an air of unadulterated abandon and single-minded resolve.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.