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Show Review: Godflesh Bring People Together

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Godflesh Nails Joy

Has anyone tried sending the reunited Godflesh to the Middle East? Given the band’s semi-sacreligious moniker, this might seem like a weird strategy for finally achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but if we go by the crowd attending the band’s sold out show at Irving Plaza last night — their first in New York City in nearly twenty years — then we can deduce that Godflesh are uniters, not dividers. Older fans enjoying nostalgia, younger fans just getting to experience Godflesh live for the first time, goths in KMFDM shirts, Kerry King look-alikes in Morbid Angel merch, so-called “hipsters” in Ghost hoodies, women who are allegedly too attractive to like metal, a dude in a Jonathan Toews hockey jersey dancing by himself — they were all there, and they were all visibly having a great time. Really, the only thing the different sects within the crowd had in common was a love of Godflesh and weed (the smoke was so thick in that air that security never even tried to kick anyone out; they would have had to remove approximately every third person from the venue to put an end to it).

Not that it’s SO surprising that Godflesh would bring fans from so many disparate walks of life (or at least fashion preferences) together: in the twelve years since they called it a day, their legend has only grown. So has the force of their music: watching the band stomp through classics like “Monotremata,” “Avalanche Master Song,” and “Christbait Rising,” the band’s influence on modern industrial and industrialized doom has never been clearer. Everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Fear Factory to Batillus probably owes these dudes a couple of checks. What was striking about the performance wasn’t just how modern and all-around excellent these songs still sound, but how MASSIVE they are — which is doubly impressive when you consider that the band only has two members.

About those members: G.C. Green is, if we’re being honest, not the world’s most electrifying stage presence. Sure, his bass will make your balls tremble, but I spent most of the show watching Justin Broadrick, and I can’t imagine I was alone. Broadrick live is captivating; spastic and seemingly afflicted with Tourette’s, his body spasms and contorts uncontrollably, seemingly controlled by the very music itself, like one of those electronic flowers that “dances” when in the vicinity of sound. He’s not much for on-stage banter — he cracked wise about his computer at one point, but that might have been about it — but it doesn’t really matter, because he’s got presence to burn. I don’t mean to undermine Green’s contribution to the duo, but Broadrick is the clear star of the show.

Hopefully, the band doesn’t stay away from NYC for another twenty years. I got the feeling they could have played for twice as long as they did, and no one would have complained.

Remaining Godflesh U.S. tour dates:

4/11/14 – Philadelphia @ Theatre of Living Arts
4/13/14 – Boston @ Royale
4/15/14 – Chicago @ Metro
4/17/14 – Seattle @ Neumo’s
4/18/14 – Portland @ Hawthorne Theatre
4/20/14 – San Francisco @ DNA Lounge
4/22/14 – Los Angeles @ The Fonda Theatre
4/24/14 – Austin @ The Mohawk

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