Angus Reid 22/08/2007
Spiderland is one of those rare beasts in music - an album that barely gets any recognition at the time, but by word of mouth grows to become a cult favourite. That it's now sold over 50,000 copies and inspired bands that have sold plenty more is testament to the ingenuity and quality of the work. To hear it played live is nothing short of epic, but let's not dive straight in - there is a support act to discuss first.
Alexander Tucker is a man who knows his way around a loop pedal or two. So much so that makes the entirety of his set. It's a hypnotic trick, to build up the layers of guitars and vocals, and in parts things drop back to an ominous drone before he's off again building and building. It's not that it's not enjoyable; it just feels a little aimless. It's not really ambient enough to be ambient, but at the same time it's not interesting enough to hold the attention for an entire set on its own. He's good though, and serves as an excellent warm up to Slint.
Slint are unusual as a live band, normally I like to see a bit of energy and passion in a performance, but they just stand and play. It works though, combined with the stillness of many of the passages of music, the five men on stage are like ancient monuments, warding off long forgotten demons. The lighting is so sparse as to barely exist, but again it serves to perfectly capture the stark minimalism of the songs. None of the band step remotely near the light, David Pajo in particular being enshrined in darkness, and it all seems so apt.
There's a brief change of mood for "Don, Aman" where Pajo and drummer Britt Walford come to the front, face to face with guitars. It's worth mentioning just how loud the drums are, and how quiet this song seems in comparison. From the opening harmonics of "Breadcrumb Trail" through to the last crushing note of "Good Morning, Captain", the entire crowd is in the palm of Slint's hand, the latter song in particular erupting into an unlikely bout of audience participation as the entire crowd roars along with Brian McMahan "AND I MISS YOU!" The overall effect is immense as guitars roar and drums clatter in the way only Slint can make them. Once they've run through Spiderland, we're treated to some E.P. material and, even better, a new song. This is sure to excite every fan in the room, and hints that there may be a new album in the offing are whetting the appetite of even the most casual observer here tonight.
Overall, there's just something about this band that has helped them grow in stature since they split originally, and they step up to the mark admirably. The power and sinister darkness of Spiderland works superbly in a live setting, and Slint seem so at home on stage, you wonder how they went so unnoticed the first time around. The word awesome if often used inappropriately, but tonight really is awe inspiring and if they can keep together this time, there's no reason why Slint can't take their rightful place among the pantheon of rock greats.