Live at Brixton Academy, London
It's probably a safe assumption that during their recent short stay in the UK (five October dates culminating with tonight's show), the East Coast's Grizzly Bear, are unlikely to have taken their West Coast harmonising for a daytrip to see our own domestic coastlands hunkering down for their annual battering at the hands of the winter extremities as they start sweeping in around this time of year - unlikely to have visited some remote northern headland to watch as the ravages of the icy North Sea begin to take their toll, or witness the Atlantic angrily take up it's chisel and mallet in it's yearly mission to reshape some idyllic Cornish beauty spot against it's will. On reaching London today though, they may perhaps have noticed how days of bleak despondent drizzle have given the ever-darkening evenings those hazy, moody atmospherics greatly reminiscent of the London in the canvases of that masterful painter of landscapes and, in particular, sea scenes, J.M.W. Turner - either way, tonight at Brixton Academy, they do everything they can to conjure a seascape of such unrepentant force and such wild and astonishing beauty, it'd make the old Romantic a very happy man indeed, or equally, make a seaside hamlet quake in fear. What Grizzly Bear bring, at least for half the set, is this constant clash between glowing warmth, harmony and clarity and an angular dissonance, occasional sparseness, and a drop-out / build-up playfulness with metre and rhythm, that swells between minimalist and titanic - it's as if you're drowning within the tumultuous cauldron of a sea they're creating, and every time you manage to lunge afloat to gasp for a lung or two of air, and a moment or two of clear vision and relief, then seconds later a wave of sound crashes down forcing you back into the panic and chaos. A backdrop of faint lanterns glow like a distant shoreline, offering salvation and civility if only you can ride out and weather the uncompromising and perilous storm - they gain and lose focus as you clamber to stay afloat, as your faith is tested by the disaster unfolding around you. Guitars shift between shimmering arpeggios and flanged slabs of sheer colour at each turn in pace dictated by the rowing drum, and the whole sound builds and builds and builds until it finally bursts into a torrential, cataclysmic explosion of noise, and strobe flashes of incredible white light, like a demonstrable show of power from Poseidon's hand. And then calm. Exhaustion. The gorgeous 'Foreground' fittingly brings with it dawn and the euphoric knowledge of survival, and 'While you wait for the others' with its lines "yes you'll only leave me dry", helps give that sense that you've made it to the shallows. Likewise 'Two weeks' with it's ethereal choral sirens' call, and set closer 'Sun in your eyes', with it's themes of soft ground, stone paths, scorched sands and burning sunshine, confirms the arrival at some unknown paradise. This isn't the complete end though, such is the overriding sense of joy around the place, the band come back to treat us to a heart-warming and beautifully pared down version of 'All we ask' - as they end the lanterns fall, bringing us in closer to the warm, welcoming shore. Simply amazing.