Boris - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

The first thing you notice is the huge stack of Orange amps on the stage, a reminder, if one were needed, that Boris isn’t a band that does things by halves. Operating since the mid-nineties these Japanese purveyors of heavy psych and riff worship know how to create an immersive and unforgettable live experience.

Employing the universal language of riffs and volume the three-piece will set about recreating their masterpiece Pink for the assembled faithful and perhaps gain a few new converts in the process. Anticipation is understandably high but having seen the band play the Brudenell once before I’ve got a feeling we’re not about to be disappointed.

Before Boris can blow our minds (and presumably our ear drums) the crowd gather around the floor in front of the stage to watch Leeds psych-rock types Nope. The band’s sound combines the propulsive, eternal throb of Neu with a penchant for tight, post-punk riffs and hypnotic, psychedelic drones. Much like Boris, Nope don’t really do things by halves with two drummers and two guitarists producing the bands distinctive sound. What’s more, both guitarists have double-necked guitars.

Aesthetics aside, this doubling of resources really does help to create something powerful as the band lock into rhythmic mantras and rigorous repetition. The reverb-soaked, deliberately unintelligible vocals are simply another layer of sound while the two drummers provide the bands beating heart. While undeniably experimental there’s something genuinely euphoric about listening to Nope play, an outpouring of energy that can’t help but be contagious.

Silhouetted through the smoke, Boris take to the stage and that mountain of amplification immediately groans into life. I’m expecting to hear the strains of ‘Farewell’ (the opening track on the version of the album I’ve got) but am greeted with the slow, bludgeoning sludge of ‘Blackout’. I’ve got ear plugs in but take them out; this is something I want to experience loud and unfiltered.

Pink is an album that plays with the extremes of heavy rock and that desire to push everything into the red is blissfully apparent live. When ‘Farewell’ does arrive it’s huge and utterly majestic; the sound of a heart expanding to bursting point.

The band has worked with Sunn0))) before and that understanding of volume is integral to their performance. The songs are strong yet it’s the overall sound, that tsunami of feedback and fuzz that really makes the experience so overpowering.

The faster tracks thunder along at an incredible pace, lead guitarist Wata and Takeshi Ohtani providing a wall of unrelenting riffs and gloriously over-the-top guitar heroics. Devil horns and fists are flung into the air in appreciation. The band is certainly in touch with their experimental side yet it’s their love for the primal, evangelical power of rock that really shines through. The lyrics are in Japanese but the music has a language all of its own and for anyone that’s stood in front of a mirror and practiced their air-guitar skills the show provides a brilliantly cathartic release.

For a band that has been together so long it's reassuring to see just how much they love what they do, drummer Atsuo Mizuno looks utterly possessed as he repeatedly strikes the huge gong at the back of the stage before holding the drumstick up to the audience in triumph. There’s something undeniably celebratory about the whole performance; a celebration of Pink, a celebration of Boris and a celebration of rock itself.

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