And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ O2 Academy, Leicester | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ O2 Academy, Leicester, UK, March 7th, 2020

Mar 10, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

With ten albums and a quarter of a century’s worth of exhilarating live performances to their name, an evening with And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is always a memorable one. Since forming in their native Austin back in 1994 then releasing their self-titled debut four years later they’ve established themselves as one of the most brutal forces in rock and roll. They also have a reputation for being unpredictably wild which hasn’t really lessened over time, and tonight’s sojourn in the less than salubrious surroundings of Leicester is no exception.

Now essentially a vehicle for remaining founder members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece. For the past decade the band has seen a number of changes yet while the Keely-Reece-Busch-Allen incarnation remains the “classic” line-up for many fans, the current incumbents more than give that combination a run for its money. Keely takes centre stage for the most part, Reece alternating between guitar and drums along with newcomer Ben Redman while bassist Alec Padron and keyboard player A.J. Vincent complete the 2020 version of the band.

Originally scheduled to take place in the infinite confines of the Cookie where all tickets were sold out within weeks of the show being announced. The last minute decision to move it to the more spacious O2 Academy at least gave both band and audience room to breathe. Not that the moshpit out front was any less sweaty or animated.

Playing a career spanning set encompassing the majority of their glorious output. The twenty songs chosen tonight all delivered with an impeccable grace and poise. Each one showing a different side to the band’s vast make up. Indeed that’s always been one of the most appealing facets with And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Because they’ve never been comfortable with any one specific genre their fanbase can count punks, metal heads and psychedelic warlords amongst its number.

So it’s to the band’s credit that every angle of their back catalogue is covered. Some eras more extensively than others, but nevertheless touched upon with no less verve or panache. While this year’s tenth LP X: The Godless Void And Other Stories understandably features heavily at the start which is just as well because “The Opening Crescendo” and “All Who Wander” make for a blistering salvo to introduce their arrival. Lead single “Don’t Look Down” - arguably one of the finest compositions in the band’s recent canon - and a haunting “Children Of The Sky” also highlight the new record at its most potent.


However its when they delve into their irrepressible back catalogue ears prick and limbs flail accordingly. With 1999’s Madonna and its follow up from 2002 Source Tags & Codes playing a prominent role in the band’s ascension two decades ago it’s no surprise both are plundered at key junctures of the set. “It Was There That I Saw You” and “How Near How Far” bookend segments in the early part of the show while a raucous “Homage” gives way to the laconic charm of “Clair De Lune”, which even now over two twenty years on from its release sounds as fresh and invigorating as it did back then.

2005’s Worlds Apart and 2009’s The Century Of Self are also purloined as “Caterwaul” and “Will You Smile Again For Me” rub shoulders with “Isis Unveiled” and “Bells Of Creation”. Each one regaling a part of the band’s history while serving as pertinent reminders of the many gems in their catalogue.

Ending on a closing gambit that’s as good as anything likely to be witnessed all year. A slow building “Relative Ways” that segues into “Mistakes And Regrets” before “Another Morning Stoner” then turns into “A Perfect Teenhood” for an unscheduled grand finale complete with crowdsurfers and a general air of unparalleled excitement.

It’s in uncertain times like these when the world desperately needs a band like And You Know Us By The Trail Of Dead to give it a kick up its cumbersome backside. Twenty five years may have been and gone yet they’re still one of the most relevant and exciting musical ensembles on the planet. Long may that continue!


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