Nordic Giants – Live At Hoxton Hall, London (12/11/15)

Photo by Simon Brice

As an ex-Hoxton local, I’ve wanted to visit the Hoxton Hall for years. It’s a gorgeous 19th century music hall, recently refurbished and hosting a wide variety of events, none of which I’ve managed to take advantage of. Tonight however would be my chance, a result of touring mystical post-rock duo; Nordic Giants.

The lights cut out and the victorian hall adopts a serious tone. Amid smoke, otherworldly silhouettes coalesce into two figures shrouded in darkness. A single word appears, projected on a huge screen that will become our focus, the topic of tonight’s performance; “Consciousness” silences the room and Nordic Giants strike a chord. It’s apparent that this is not your average post-rock gig.

Nordic Giants have created an audio visual spectacular, setting their music expertly to beautiful short films. Their performance is faultless and heartfelt, progressing from an introspective, solemn wash to pounding heroic rock. Heavy bass rattles the old hall; the sound is perfect. But as the set progresses, the performance and sound become the least important aspects of the night; gradually fading into the background, overwhelmed by the sentiment penetrating eyes, ears, minds and hearts.

While the films and costumes are set in fantasy, there is a stark reality to everything presented to us. Repeatedly we are informed by powerful dialogue of our potential as individuals and as a species, and our complete failure to realise anything close to what is needed to change the apocalyptic path we follow. We are taken through stages; “guilt, fear, anger, pride, enlightenment, liberation”, and although it’s a harrowing experience, eventually an overall message arises of positivity. Of hope.

 “We are stars trapped inside skin and bone”, we are reminded of our beginnings and our connection to everything and everyone around us; inhabiting one consciousness. “Our world is not run on oil, money, dreams, god. It’s run on trust.” And love. The emphasis I took away from this experience is of the need for togetherness and love, particularly poignant for the days following the night of this show.

Nordic Giants present ideas of unity through unifying artforms, and it makes for an extremely powerful, totally immersive experience. One of the most captivating I’ve witnessed. Their recorded music hasn’t caught my attention, but performed live with the help of visuals, a deeper meaning and purpose becomes stunningly clear. While the atmosphere is heavy, there are lighter moments, empowering moments; leaving the audience with an hour lost in time and a present gained; a head swirling with a kind of bleak empowerment.

I’ve come away from tonight feeling something, which is ultimately what most of us really want from our art. Nordic Giants have an ability to awaken the jaded, the complacent and the bored; the Londoners! As the rapture in the Hoxton Hall tonight evidences, they’ve created an experience and expression more powerful with the aid of film, than any rock band can do with music alone.

If you ever get the chance to experience a Nordic Giants show, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take it in both hands.


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