Neurosis – The Kings Arms, February 15, 2017

Wednesday the 15th of February 2017 was something of a historic moment; the first time in their 30 year history the experimental doom band Neurosis graced these shores. Rocking the Kings Arms nearly to the ground, Tove Partington went along for a highly anticipated night.

Confession time; Neurosis live was always going to be something of a religious experience for me (and being raised Catholic, I know what a proper religious experience is supposed to feel like). I’ve had a Neurosis tattoo for longer than I haven’t, and loved them since I was a wee girl. Their music has got me through some of the hardest times of my life, and to say I’m a fan is something of an understatement. So I knew it had the potential to be an amazing night, yet still I was blown away.

The first thing I noticed was how packed the KA was, which, perhaps naively, was a shock to me, due to the cancellation of Scott Kelly’s previous tour due to lack of sales (yes, I am still bitter); Auckland is ever a fickle scene. I hadn’t heard of opening band Old Loaves, but was impressed. They were a perfect fit; I wouldn’t think it would be possible to find a perfect fit fo Neurosis on these shore, but there you have it. I’ll be keeping a eye out for sure. Then, cutting straight to business, with no fanfare at all, was the band who needed no introduction (so didn’t bother), Neurosis. The set lasted nearly 2 hours (and 3 songs :p), and was full of an energy that was unexpected to many for a band so sludgy. Not a band suited to a mosh pit, there was some of the most energetic nodding I’ve ever seen, and coupled with bodies swaying and closing their eyes or raising them heavenward, it was an amazing atmosphere. The synth work created nearly impossible live sounds, sending organic, living noises crackling down ones spine. There was too much depth of noise to believe it was only the five people you could see, and was the rare experience of hearing the depth of such complex records live.

Having arrived back from Portland, OR, the day before (and missing it like a physical ache), they sent such a wave of homesickness through me, along with the longing, happiness, pain and joy that comes with seeing a truly brilliant band. Surpassing genre and creating an atmosphere like that is truly rare, and when it happens it makes you remember why music is possibly the greatest thing on earth. I understand this is less of a review, and more of a love letter (if love means a myriad of things), containing more flowery language and clichés that I am comfortable with, yet on that impressively crowded stage I was reminded that sometimes, rarely, clichés are clichés for a reason. Music can be transformative and life changing (if you are lucky), and Neurosis are one of the rare bands to express that.

There was no banter between songs, there was no explanation necessary; it was all about the music. Glorious, emotional, simple to the point of coming out the other side into incredibly complex, it was a night to remember. Walking off stage while leaving their instruments to continue playing for them was one of the neater tricks I’ve seen a band do, and one of the most fitting ones of the night, I will forever be grateful of such a night.


Tove Partington

Photos by Tove: due to the last minute arrival in the country I didn’t have the time to sort a photographer. Forgive the lack of our usual quality, they were taken on a S7 by my notoriously shaky hands!