Thursday, October 11, 2007

Touching heaven at Brixton academy

Went to see Editors last night. It's the third time I've seen them.

The first time they were supporting Franz Ferdinand at Ally Pally, their first album had just come out and they were a slightly nervous support act with promise.

Last night they were majestic headliners creating big bold colours with anthemic songs that touch on big themes.

What I like about Tom Smith's writing is his ability to create metaphors so spacious you could lodge a family in them. On the first album he sings a line like 'You burn like a bouncing cigarette on the road/All sparks will burn out in the end' and I'm sent to Ecclesiastes to reflect on the beauty and brevity of life. That picture of a bouncing cigarette, glowing red in the dark, throwing its light in every direction, the sense that it has been discarded, yet takes on a life of its own...

On the new album the brilliant line 'the saddest thing that I've ever seen/were smokers outside the hospital doors' makes me shudder every time Smith's rich baritone sings it. People killing themselves in the shadow of salvation, life needing risk to be worth living, yet we who take those risks will only take them in the presence of s safety net.

And on Racing Rats 'if a plane were to fall from the sky how big a hole would it leave in the surface of the earth' is a two line summation of the world we find ourselves in. Which plane? what sky? the crater left by air crash sucks in all those left behind into wondering why their loved ones were taken. It's a picture of all the random tragedies that blight our lives. And the fall out from 9/11 has shattered the earth way beyond the twin towers in ways that affect all of us...

These are metaphors you take up residence in. And for me they are vast open spaces that raise questions about faith and relationships, politics and where our lives might find meaning. On Weight of the World, Tom Smith sings 'you fuse my broken bones back together and then/lift the weight of the world from my shoulders/...every little piece of your life will mean something to someone.'

Of course, for me, I can't help thinking what these songs might have to say about faith and God. The obvious answer is 'nothing explicitly' and yet as I inhabit these metaphors, I find God's voice echoing in the space. As Smith sings 'you touch my face, God whispers in my ear. There are tears in my eyes, love replaces fear.'

The album closes with a song that they didn't do last night, a simple piano ballad that ends with the lines 'I don't wanna go out on my own anymore/I can't face the night like I used to before/I'm so sorry for the things that they've done/I'm so sorry about what we've all become.'

I just wish there were worship writers creating such spacious, intriguing, honest metaphors that help us explore more explicitly our life with God in the world he's created.

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