Mercury Rev - Mountford Hall, Liverpool University

Jonathan Donaghue is a magician.  He appears from the smoke as if by magic, dressed entirely in black, ripping magical emotions from his wand of choice- the guitar.  Summoning the strengths of the demons that flank him, he inspires a journey which tells of dragons and angels, underpinned by the twin pinnacles of mournful lament and yearning joy.  Binding the audience
with an atmospheric spell, he casts at us wistful melodies, delivered in his innocent, hypnotic vocals, ever-reaching doctrines passed down from the dawns of time.

To a man, the crowd are one with the band, the music comes in waves from all directions, with the Wizard's henchmen enchanting the melodies still further, with flourishes of octane jazz piano.  Donaghue stands in the centre, conducting his symphony of magic, drawing sounds from their instruments like a fire from hell.  Its as pretentious as its comes.  But it wouldn't be as effective if it wasn't so theatrical, so individually brilliant.

And it is none more so than on opener, 'Chains', with Donaghue's vocals heavily effected, the whole song becomes such a hard and electrifying experience.  Latest album 'All Is Dream' receives a healthy airing, as well as now classic songs like 'Goddess On A Highway' and 'Opus 40'.  Each one is bewitching, confusing and eerily tremendous.  Whether at the wistful choirs of 'Endlessly' or the dark psychedelia of 'Tides Of The Moon', all the songs cry ancient emotions, brought to the stage perfectly and executed with the type of subtlety that has catapulted them to their rightful position as High Mages of Space-Rock. Superb.

Collen Chandler

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