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Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra And Tralala Band - Live at the Bristol Bierkeller

Never have I had so much hassle and difficulty getting to a gig. And seldom has a gig been so worth it.

The original plan was nice and simple. I was in Cardiff, the gig was in Bristol - it's only a short train ride. I'd meet some friends there, and afterwards they'd come back to mine to crash.

That went out of the window when I had to move out of Cardiff, and back to Lancaster. Some way away. So then the plan was to get a lift with a friend who was going by car. But then he had to pull out. So then the plan was to get a train and stay with an old friend in Bristol. But then he had an exam the next day, so we scrapped that. This carried on for some time. Between three tickets, there were seven of us intending to come at some point or another, and only two of us ended up going. Late buses, extremely early trains, lack of sleep... getting there and back was nightmarish. The first train we could get back after the gig was at 5.30 in the morning... so we spent the night sat on a cold stone bench in the middle of Bristol. Got some funny looks, and even some searching questions from two policemen.

But the gig itself... not many have even heard of "Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra And Tralala Band", although many have heard of their more famous sister-band "Godspeed You! Black Emperor". The venue was mid-sized, perhaps a thousand people, but something about it made it feel much smaller than that. It had an intimacy normally only found in much smaller places.

For a band known for long, winding and involved songs and soundscapes, the band themselves were surprisingly lighthearted and unpretentious.

I didn't time the set, but estimate it at about an hour and a half, hour forty five. In that time, they managed to cram in a whole six songs!

1. God Bless Our Dead Marines
2. Mountains Made Of Steam
3. Blind Blind Blind *
4. A Million Died To Make This Sound **
5. Ring Them Bells (Freedom Has Come And Gone)
6. Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River
* Unreleased new song.
** "New. Very new. Very very new."

The lineup of the band is also rather unusual:
Lead Vocals/Guitar
Guitar/Backing Vocals
Drums/Guitar/Backing Vocals
Violin/Backing Vocals
Violin/Backing Vocals
Cello/Backing Vocals
Upright Bass/Backing Vocals

Every member of the band sings, providing some amazing layered rounds... the end of God Bless Our Dead Marines was simply stunning. The band flows effortlessly from subtle harmonies and ambient sounds to thundering epic noise, without ever abandoning a powerful atmosphere and sense of melody.

This style of music is an acquired taste.

And now it is time for you to go and acquire it.

Off you go.


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