A Winged Victory for the Sullen

A Winged Victory for the Sullen


A Winged Victory For The Sullen (AWVFTS) are described as many things; an ambient/drone/modern classical duo made up of former (or is it dormant?) Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie and pianist/composer Dustin O’Halloran. The music they make is ripe for words like ‘majestic’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘beautiful’, ‘soaring’, ‘wondrous’ and the like, and to write a review about their show at the incredible St Philip’s Church in Salford and use those words would do it no justice. If this review were a gif it would be one of a dog seeing snow for the first time, it’s face filled with the wonder of discovery. It would do no justice to the show if I just describe the sublime sounds the duo make alongside a cellist and two violinists, and the amazing backlit lighting that threw them all in shadowed silhouettes against the dry ice pumped into the stunning church. I spent most of the show with my eyes closed anyway, so those descriptions aren’t going to help.

The only way I know how to describe what I hear this evening as the band play their second album Atmos in one movement, with no breaks for applause as the assembled crowd sit rapt in silence (punctured only by the unholy sound of people cracking into tins of beer served by the church bar), is to list for you the things I think about for the duration. For this show makes me do all the feels. It seems it makes Wiltzie do the same too, as when the Atmos movement comes to an end, following a standing ovation, he addresses the crowd emotionally saying how delighted he is that the people of Manchester (er…Salford), a place he holds dear, still turn out to appreciate the art he makes – he’s genuinely, like a lot of the crowd it seems, choked up.

And so to the feels that ran through my brain over the 90 minutes of indescribably wonderful music:

A train journey spent staring out of the window with just your thoughts

That whispered goodbye at the end of Lost In Translation

A walk through a deserted city at 3am

The two guys next to me, hands clasped around each other’s hands, eyes closed

A fleeting glance across the room at someone you’ll never see again

The moment at the end of a party when everyone stays up and watches the sunrise, final drinks and cigarettes in hand

The moment just before you fall asleep

The looks couples are giving each other throughout

Sunrays breaking through clouds, the beams touching the Earth

Seeing someone you haven’t seen in too long

Comfortable silences in the company of people you know so well

Snow on Christmas morning (fingers crossed)

How lucky we are to be able to sit in venues like this hearing music like this

How uncomfortable church seats are after 90 minutes.

I’m not sure I’ll ever witness anything like it again. The perfect surroundings, perfect time of year, perfect lights, dry ice and sound…it all came together to make one of the best shows of 2015.

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