Voivod Live at the Club Soda
The last time I had seen Voivod was at the Spectrum in 1990. I had worked on the clips that would be their entry card in Germany (Tribal Conviction and Psychic Vacuum). The album Nothingface was on the verge to be released and they were already playing some tracks from the album. It was a memorable show I would never forget but few people showed up. It wasn’t the case on this Sunday June 15th during the 40th Edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival.
The excitement was palpable, with their latest album ”The Wake” Voivod has finally pierced the shield that was between the prophets and their homecountry. I sorta feel everyone is anxious to tell them that they are really home now. The crowd is a bit old and definitely varied. The show begins with a promise from Snake (singer Denis Bélanger) that the band will give everything they got and they definitely did give a show that was mesmerizing, in front of a public that had followed them since their very first album ”War and Pain” or at least since their three first albums for sure… Others are more fans of the albums starting with ”Nothingface” but everyone is on board with whatever is going to happen tonight but no one could have expected what was about to happen. Voivod hits it off with ”Post Society”. The sound is perfect and each instrument can be heard separately from the others if you concentrate enough. Of course I go first with the drums and I get a marvelous surprise as they play ”Psychic Vacuum” which I had learned to love especially because I had worked on the video clip as assistant-director. What a treat to hear it so well played, dramatic with its sense of urgency, lyrics sang in a matter of fact way by Snake. I was so glad that Psychic Vacuum had finally found its place on the set list because back when it was released it didn’t get the attention it should have and the guys had picked this one from the album thinking it was going to be a hit, well guess what, I thought it was a hit back then and more than a decade later it has finally got its rightful place and title.
We can all feel the band is perfectly assured, relaxed and full of energy. ”Obsolete Beings” truly represents all that space, psychedelic, heavy sound and allows Voivod to be all that they can be. ”The Prow” gracefully follows and ”Iconspiracy” (second song from their last album to be played) is received with equal joy then the preceding tracks if not more and the audience is definitely under the charm when ”Into my Hypercube”‘s first notes are heard (a track I always thought to sound a bit like Alice Cooper). Then came the icing on the cake while Snake was explaining the lyrics of the next, track a brass quintet came and took place on stage. We were about to be totally blown away by a new arrangement of ‘‘The End of Dormancy” which is kind of the main song from the album since Snake screams ”THE WAKE!!” more than once during the track… Anyways I was unprepared to hear what sounded like King Crimson at their best, kind of Larks Tongues in Aspic, Lizard or even Islands but metal-jazz, each instrument was perfectly in tune and it turned out to be truly magnificent. The audience were screaming out of their lungs after that ”VOIVOD! VOIVOD!” and the band looked delighted, their faces told it all, they gambled high on this one and did a lot more than just get away with it.
The rest of the show was pure delight as they went back to Killing Technology to serve us a heartfelt Overreaction, each track felt carefully chosen and all were fitting with Voivod new album, a certain tragic sense of drama omnipresent in the music as in the lyrics. If you look a little deeper in the track list you can see that it delivers a certain perspective on how the world is collapsing and why.
I am with a girl who has never seen Voivod in concert and barely knows their music. Hearing her scream now I know she is 100% conquered and a wide smile comes in my face as ”Always Moving” starts and finishes followed by ”Fall”, ”Lost Machine” (from ”Nothingface”) and the inevitable Voivod puts a cherry on the cake and reminds us all that Voivod were amongst the first real seriously heavy metal bands in the world when War and Pain was released. Of course we all think that Blacky would be a better player than Rocky having been with the formation since its foundation but I gatta admit even if I’m one of those who miss Blacky’s blower bass sound that Rocky does a fantastic job, almost as fantastic as Chewy does replacing the irreplacable Piggy!
The crowd is wild and Voivod are forced once more onto the stage and play 2 more well chosen songs, The Unknown Knows and Astronomy Domine is an excellent choice to close an evening with Voivod I will never forget. ”Astronomy Domine” composed by ex Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) played that song live on an album called Umma Gumma (it was first released on ”The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”) and I think that song really incarnates all that Voivod is/was/can be/will be when it comes to style. A post-apocalyptic tribal sci-fi story told with a musical background that is heavy prog-psychedelic. What’s not to love!!