Explosions In The Sky Brought Their Epic Instrumentals To The Sydney Opera House
Reviewed on Thursday February 23 (photo by Prudence Upton)
It’s been a long time coming. From Manning Bar to the Enmore, and now the big leagues: Explosions In The Sky at the Sydney Opera House.
It’s a fitting venue; stately, ceremonial and jutting into the sky as its sails simultaneously shimmer across the harbour. As such, there seems to be something reverential about the occasion, brought about just as surely by the reverence with which these unassuming Texans treat their music. They are aware of the power in their pedals and nurture it with due care as it aches and builds.
Over the years of following this band as they birthed a cult, popped their heads overground into soundtrack town and then went on to become the last post-rock gang in town, I have always been in awe of the sheer amount of judicious restraint they are able to demonstrate as they build these towering monoliths of sound. Patiently and fastidiously they play an almost religious game of reverse Jenga out of complementary lines stacked confidently on top of one another, each fibre of the frame a fragile, vibrating bone. There is little in the way of ego or posturing. Everything is in service to the songs, but when a sufficient amount of storeys have been stacked onto these skyscrapers, restraint morphs into abandon and you best strap yourself in.
Swaying like pendulums, heads bowed and entranced, they are dwarfed by the sound. And so are we. Widescreen endeavours like this always conjure landscapes, and yet Explosions manage to evoke great swathes of distance while still being deeply intimate. A pulsing curtain of light jets upwards from the lip of the stage, opaque whites and deep reds rendering the band both angelic and demonic as they engage in their amplifier worship with twin AC30s stacked and set to stun.
Highlights are spaced and paced as they dip into their now enviable catalogue. ‘First Breath After Coma’ and ‘Your Hand In Mine’ possess a demolishing beauty. A new standout from The Wilderness LP, ‘Disintegration Anxiety’, encapsulates their entire rise and fall in a succinct (for them) four minutes, giving the evening the adrenaline it needs and inspiring some brave boys to bop, unshackled from their seats.
‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’ follows to finish. It has always been their masterpiece and tonight it proves so. From pin-drop silence to deafening crescendo it enthrals completely until the kill switch is kicked, the lights go up and I’m honestly left dizzy. I know I’m not alone.