The evening of September 12, 2016 in Austin Texas was hot. That should be a surprise to no one but the band of Irishmen were definitely noticing. At some point in the set, Jamie asked the audience how they live with it. Of course, we all laughed but God is an Astronaut certainly brought their own brand of heat in the form of giant walls of sound and spectacularly
tight live renditions of their songs. The last time they toured the U.S., it was only Torsten, Niels, and Lloyd. This time they are a foursome with Jamie adding another layer of guitars which makes their sound far deeper and larger than ever before.
“Pig Power” was the first song and set the mood brilliantly. Dreamy, humming synths sit underneath a subtle guitar line. It’s no “we are going to take the stage and blow your face off” entrance because, quite frankly, God is an Astronaut has always wanted their audience to think and be thoughtful about the music and presentation. This spacious and patient introduction to the night was perfect for laying the groundwork for what was to become. Like most of their songs, the track erupts (at about 3 minutes in) and just gets the audience heads bobbing. God is an Astronaut usher their audience into what will be a magnificent set.
I could go on commenting about every track on the set list because, frankly, each one was executed with incredible tightness and finesse but I think that would be a bit much. Highlights will serve to get my point across. One of the most impressive moments in the set was the reworked “From Dust to the Beyond” from their first album. They took a track that had subtle guitars and mostly synths in it to this track that had huge walls of sound fueled by monstrous guitar sonics. It was a brilliant and happy surprise for any fan who knows their back catalog. Another track that really stuck out to me was early in the set, “Vetus Memoria”. This track just demonstrates their brilliance at building a song into a massive, mind melting crescendo. Jamie’s piano work leads into fast syncopated drums along with floating, ethereal synths that are a signature of the band’s sound. But then the wall of sound and guitars just explode through the speakers. Pointing out these highlights come from a frankly personal place and I don’t want to give the impression that the rest of the set wasn’t just as impressive. It most certainly was. God is an Astronaut have been at this since 2002 and they have honed their craft.
As anyone who has seen them live knows, Lloyd is just a monster on the drums. Lloyd’s ability to turn phrases and move the band forward are unparalleled. His drum work moves from subtle to explosive with ease. Torsten has moved from keys and majority vocals (yes, they do have vocals) to concentrating on guitar. He moves from subtle accents on guitar to just huge walls of sound. Jamie also plays guitar but he handles keys as well while also contributing to vocals. Jamie is clearly the showman, interacting with the audience often and doing most of the speaking. His guitar work ads more depth to their live show and he is clearly a consummate musician. As always, Niels plays bass. I find bass work to be the most precarious instrument on the stage because it is the glue that binds the guitar/synth work with the percussion and Niels has mastered his instrument. When the walls of sound erupt from the stage, Niels’ bass work provides this low end sonic tone that is just massive.
The set list was 14 tracks long and provided for an epic evening. They drew from songs at all points in their catalog, giving us very early tracks, song from their self-titled, and more recent material off of both Helios | Erebus and Origins. Each track also had a light show associated with it that really built a brilliant atmosphere. Any fan of the band would have enjoyed this varied set-list.
The set-list was as follows:
Pig Powder (Helios|Erebus)
Echoes (God is an Astronaut)
Snowfall (God is an Astronaut)
Vetus Memoria (Helios|Erebus)
Worlds in Collision (Age of the Fifth Sun)
Helios | Erebus (Helios|Erebus)
From Dust to the Beyond (The End of the Beginning)
Fragile (All is Violent, All is Bright)
Forever Lost (All is Violent, All is Bright)
Red Moon Lagoon (Origins)
Suicide by Star (All is Violent, All is Bright)
Zodiac (God is an Astronaut)
I think it’s no secret that I found this set incredible. God is an Astronaut continue to impress and have really honed their live show throughout the years. If you can catch them on tour, I highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed.