Dark Jubilee, Hackney Ocean, London, 2nd-3rd June 2002
The afternoon of interview meant that I missed the early bands again, but I did make it for most of the Icon of Coil set, who were on criminally early. IoC deserve to be counted among the futurepop scene's leaders and live they are amazing. They attracted one of the biggest crowds of the entire festival and didn't disappoint. 'Bitter sky', 'Access and Amplify', 'Regret', 'Confront' - big techno bastards that had glow-sticks waving and immediately had arms, tired from the previous nights' excesses, back in the air. Younger and better looking than their contemporaries, IoC have the potential to be huge!
Once they'd finished, it was upstairs for a bit of harsher stuff from Void Construct. Soundwise, they were particularly good, dancey but hard-hitting, including a Haujobb cover in their set that featured quite a bit from the as yet unreleased new album. Visually, though, they need work. The cyber-cutie behind the keyboards, Vicky, looked really good, but Scott really needs an image, any image! At the moment, he looks like a roadie, with his long hair fairly unkempt and his baggy clothes. Image may not be everything in this game, but it does play a part.
Downstairs again for the latest incarnation of Theatre of Tragedy with a new look and sound that confounded many fans of their older stuff. Suffice it to say, they are nothing like they were before, gone is virtually every trace of their metal past and the Goth influence is fast disappearing too. Their new album, "Assembly", which featured very strongly in their set, is hard-edged electropop and is great if that's your thing. Live, it was this stuff that really worked best, harder than the recorded version, but still dancey, and winning lots of new fans, their older stuff, even from "Musique", didn't jell as well. Visually, there is an obvious split in the band, the left side of the stage dominated by the gorgeous Liv and the very cyber looking Frank and Lorentz, while on the right, guitarist Vegard stood with his extremely hair over his face like he was in a death metal band, while their main vocalist from the metal days, Raymond, now stands around looking somewhat surplus to requirements and still fairly metalhead-like after finishing his growly bits (normally introing the songs before Liv takes over). If "Assembly" is the hit it threatens to be, they will have to make some more changes to try and look like a single unit.
I ran upstairs for a quick boogie to Inertia, who are, these days, consummate live performers. I only caught two tracks, the cracking 'No Defect' and Alexys' impressive lead vocal performance on 'Fly', before heading onto the balcony of Ocean 1 to make sure I got some decent shots of Das Ich's promised impressive stage set. And there it is no exaggeration to say that, visually at least, Das Ich blew away the competition, dressed up in the satanic garb of their new album, with keyboards suspended on what looked like giant metallic spiders legs. Musically, though, they're not quite my thing and their live sound took some of the detail out of their music, leaving it sound excessively harsh to my ears. However, 'Re-animate' was cracking live and Bruno really should do more vocals, while the dancier sound of 'Keimzeit' kept me watching a little longer than I had planned.
Then it was a rush upstairs to catch a band I was really looking forward to. Putting Crüxshadows in the smaller venue wasn't the best decision, tho' few expected the great show Rogue and co. put on. To put it simply, they've gone all futurepop, their new stuff, and their versions of older material, is dancey as fuck. The set featured a lot of their new stuff, which is eagerly awaited by many as a result of this show. There were also a few favourites, 'Love/Tragedy', a sing-along version of 'Eurydice', lots of violin, the spoken word 'Annabel Lee', lots of Rogue making use of his radio mike by wandering through the crowd and climbing the stairs at the back. All that, and two dancing girls onstage (not really needed, but still nice to look at!) At the end of the set they did go off, only to be ecstatically called back for, not one, but two encores, including a stage invasion, a cracking version of 'Heaven's gate' and, last of all, an oldie, 'Monsters'. The Crüxies are a band to watch out for, no doubt about it.
Alas, the show downstairs in the main venue had none of the same appeal. Ex-metallers Paradise Lost never really succeeded in crossing over fully into the Goth scene, always a few steps behind the crowd. Their current Sisters of Mercy-influenced sound held minimal appeal for the largely cyber crowd and their performance did prove that playing with live instruments isn't necessarily better. Their most entertaining comment was "This is our next song. It sounds like a cover version, even tho' it's an original." Never was a truer word spoken, though they could have said the same about most of their set, except for 'Walk away' because that was a cover version. They failed to draw anything like the crowd that Icon of Coil had and were an unfortunately downbeat end to a great weekend. Lessons were hopefully learned.
Despite being all on to hit the after-show party this time, my friends had all overdone it the night before, so it was back home again to a take-away. It really was two days of really great music despite its flaws and promises to be the event of coming years. Hats off to Regeneration Promotions, they done good.
by Girl the Bourgeois Individualist
VNV Nation · Das Ich · Icon of Coil · Crüxshadows · Theatre of Tragedy · Void Construct
Karl Doyle (Regeneration Promotions)