Earth / Mount Eerie @ The Caves, 8 March
The Caves' tall arches provide stellar acoustics for an Earth gig, and Mount Eerie do a solid job of demonstrating the venue's sound enhancing properties. Phil Elverum's stage presence is withdrawn and awkward, but it's the music itself that does the talking, electric guitar emitting radiant, wholesome tones which reverberate gloriously around the room. Devotees are treated to the quieter end of his oeuvre, though the uninitiated have a harder time coming around to the subtlety of the performance. With this being a solo set, Elverum simply lacks the resources to deliver a true rendition of his often ear-shattering best work.
Earth, on the other hand, sound grander than ever. The relatively recent addition of cellist Lori Goldston to the lineup adds a vital backbone to their sound, almost to the point where it's hard to imagine them without her as she breathes new life into songs like Tallahassee, from 1996's Pentastar: In The Style of Demons. The slothful, ponderous nature of their music means their stage presence isn't much to behold, but nobody came here expecting stage dives or crab stances.
Visionary guitarist Dylan Carlson has filtered out the non-believers by this point in his career; only the die-hards remain tonight. Most of the congregation are stood in quiet contemplation throughout the quartet's lengthy instrumental pieces, up until the last notes ring out, giving way to rapturous applause. In the wake of their encore – a stunningly spaced-out run-through of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol. 1's Descent to the Zenith – it's clear that Carlson and co have come a long way from that agenda-setting '91 debut.