With Becky, Eric and Ian gone, the new slimline Silver Mt Zion quintet may appear on paper to be a thinner beast. In the flesh, though, this is far from the case. Tonight at the Art School the beast roared.
There is definitely a good balance in the new set up. Sophie Trudeau and Jessica Moss have contrasting styles in both the way they play the violin and the way they sing, but there’s an almost telepathic understanding between the two. Sophie is sweeter and Jessica more strident, but at times they sound like an entire string section. Efrim seems freer as the sole guitarist. Thierry’s role hasn’t changed much, but his bass playing seems more prominent. New drummer David Payant is an absolute star. He looks like he’s mistakenly wandered on stage from a chemistry lecture. He plays like he was raised by Art Blakey and John Bonham.
This was the fifth time I’ve seen the band, and they’ve never been less than excellent. Tonight, though, they just seemed to be in the zone throughout, especially during the main set closer 1,000,000 Died to Make This Sound. It sounded like there were thirty of them up there, with David’s drumming redolent of Bonham’s greatest nine minutes, Kashmir. Props to the crowd, too, who unusually for a Glasgow audience kept schtumm during the quiet bits.
Just six songs, all but one drawn from the last two albums. Still a good 90 minute set, though. Averaging fifteen minutes a piece, somehow none of the songs came across as self-consciously ‘epic’. There was none of the quiet-loud clichés that plague most post-rock. Not that I’d call SMZ’s fare post-rock. It’s as indebted to Crass, the Watersons and Mahler as it is to Godspeed and its myriad acolytes.
In short, this was an outstanding gig. One that will linger in the memory for a long, long time.
I Built Myself A Metal Bird / I Fed My Metal Bird The Wings Of Other Metal Birds
There Is a Light
God Bless Our Dead Marines
1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound
13 Blues For Thirteen Moons