As the Montreal five-piece indie band arrive at The Magnet, Getintothis’ Andy Kelly reflects on a life-affirming night of music.
The night after that night. The night after horror unspeakable. The night after a love of music had cost so many beautiful young lives so few miles down the road.
At its very best music is a thing of joy, of wonder, of hope and yes of love. It’s fair to assume not too many of the small but perfectly-formed crowd at The Magnet headed to Hardman Street feeling joyful, wonderful, hopeful or loving. But it says everything about the power of music and the quality of The Besnard Lakes that most will have left with all those feelings suitably revived. It was good to be here.
On such a night it’s perhaps right that we’re here with the first band ever reviewed on Getintothis. A perfect time for a life-affirming night with some old friends. The Montreal five-piece, centred around the husband and wife pair of frontman Jace Lasek and bassist/vocalist Olga Goreas, are somehow six albums in – how did that happen?
Tonight’s show is part of a tour to celebrate the tenth aniversary of perhaps their best record, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. If you’re reading this and haven’t got it in your collection, stop now and rectify immediately. The set is split into two with the second half offering a full run-through of Dark Horse preceded by a main set featuring several from last year’s A Colisuem Complex Museum album.
The Besnard Lakes are frankly just my sort of band. At their best they make a big, glorious sound, one to close your eyes and lose yourself in. Like wallowing in a warm breeze, somewhere around 30,000 feet, staring down at the clouds.
A wall of sound which builds into a repetitive, hypnotic groove, emerging from the dry ice like a warmer, fuzzier Mary Chain, as ace drummer Kevin Laing hits the kit like he’s learned everything he knows from MBV’s You Made Me Realise. He wears that Ride T-shirt with pride.
There’s Lasek, a born if restrained frontman, occasionally unleasing that impressive falsetto, on say The Spectre, with the casual air of a man for whom it comes easy. Goreas refuses to ditch the shades throughout, even here at near 11pm in the Magnet basement. Quite right too.
For sure there are elements of shoegazy dream-pop here, and all the better for it, but the band never get lazy with it. They build it, establish it and chuck it away with reckless abandon after four or five minutes. Quite frankly they could have just played Albatross, the highlight of the first part of the set, for the full two hours and I’d have been happy. A monster, like the best song The Telescopes ever made, but better, Laing’s slightly off-time drums absolutely crucial.
It’s not all perfect. At times it feel like they’re trying a few too many things and the early part of the setlist loses a little coherence. Divine Wind from their latest EP doesn’t really go anywhere but Laura Lee from the same record is much better.
There’s ‘interpretive dance’ from the crowd now, well a couple of them at least, amusing at first and then a little distracting. But maybe I’m just being a miserable old git there. Not surprisingly Dark Horse feels like a much more complete being. At times it’s difficult to tell where one song starts and another ends. We like that.
The arrival of the dry ice normally precedes my favourites, And You Lied to Me simply a band in full flow – they look right, they sound right – while Rides the Rails is warm, nostalgic pop.
The Besnard Lakes do the most important thing a band can do – make a great fucking noise. They’ve got a well-established wonderful, signature sound, they should cherish it and embrace it, and not worry too much about changing it.
Lasek even dedicates the set to Getintothis for the long-term backing of his band – so you should feel a little bit better about yourself today too!
The Besnard Lakes play in Manchester on Thursday. You know what to do. I’ll see you there – just no interpretive dancing, okay!
Photos by Getintothis’ Tom Adam