So I've just had the privilege of attending three Om shows and a Holy Sons show in the space of a week, and they were without a doubt some of the best live performances I have ever witnessed. Biased as I may be, I don't think I'm alone in feeling that these shows were pretty damn special.
I never got to see Om with their original drummer, but I really do think Emil Amos breathes new life into their older material, and even more so into the new music that he's written with Al for the God Is Good album. A definite highlight of every set was the song Cremation Ghat from said album, which features a simple but distinctive, stomping rhythm that departs somewhat from the traditional Om ride-groove formula, and provides Rob (also of supporting act Lichens) with an opportunity for some of his incredible vocal wailing.
The other track that had me grinning stupidly from start to finish was 'To the Shrinebuilder' from Om's split with Current 93, (as seen in my previous post here) during which Emil's drumming reached it's most exciting and bombastic, as did Rob's seriously enthusiastic tambourine playing. I've never had so much fun watching a live band before, and it really struck me how sad it is that Om get lumped in with the stoner metal and doom genre when to me they have very little in common with any of those bands, aside from the fact that Al was in Sleep. Anyway, I enjoyed every performance immensely and can't wait to hear what they record next, which shouldn't be too far off according to an excellent interview with the band that you can read here.
As for the Holy Sons show, I wasn't quite sure what to expect that night because he doesn't play live often, and when he does it's usually with a band. I was thinking that being a solo show he might do some of his simpler songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar, perhaps in the style of 'I Want to Live a Peaceful Life', but instead we were treated to entirely new and stripped back arrangements of some of my favourite, more layered songs like Drifter's Sympathy (original here), More Mind Briars and Gnostic Device, played on an electric guitar with what seemed like a fair amount of improvisation, on both guitar and vocals. Needless to say, they sounded absolutely stunning and I feel extremely lucky to have witnessed such a unique and rare performance. I also had the opportunity to chat with Emil briefly after several of the shows and he was remarkably warm, funny and friendly, which was just the icing on the cake really. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
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