Cave @ Islington Mill, Salford 24.11.10

There's a rawness to Cave as they begin; not the throbbing of the guitar (or it’s cautious crescendo) but as the drums come crashing down. Untuned, beaten skins slightly out of sync clashing with the now beefy riffing. Add organ and bass guitar and the track takes free rock form. Through repetition the track gains momentum and the atonal vocals disappear into an abyss off stage somewhere.

Nov 24th, 2010 at Islington Mill, Salford / By Samuel Breen
Cave As with their songs, the set improves as more complex layers of sound are built up. From starting with weedy sounds and moving into fuller more assured territory, the thick RAWK (for when 'rock' just ain't enough) becomes almost continuous, subsequent tracks open with a thick primordial mix. That the world of Cave requires time. Meditative states and religious commitment.

Unfortunately tonight there's a lack of energy in the performance. Following months of touring, the group struggle to carry the momentum through the guitars which are lack lustre at best - the sound of exhaustion. With the use of drones from an electric fan organ and a vintage synth wired through distortion pedals, the sound carries, sustaining a full-on aesthetic. Not only does this constant whirring mask the errors but it provides a free tempo in which to throw off beat psych patterns and wild shredding.

As a pulse from the electric organ rings out during a (rare) subdued moment, the sound of cable crackle upsets the new found purity. As with the drum kit the rest of the equipment is inches from death. That each climax is the last moments of a marathon, shattered on the verge of burnout. After such an extensive tour Cave are navigating an insomniac's trance. Unsuccessfully trying to maintain consciousness as cohesion is all but forgotten.

The encore is an ode to daybreak. The sound of sunrise over an illustrated world. Unlike the rest of their set, it's light and amicable. Incidental music interrupted by bust speakers - the effect is lost. A cosmic, if not awkward end to a set that was doomed from the offset.