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Covenant: 21 May 2010

 Posted by Tim Mizerak  United States  Edit (5771)
May 25 2010
Live Act(s): Covenant
Event Date: 21 May 2010
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Oceana Hall
Promoter/Organizer: Ritual Filth
Rated: *****
If I incorporated the venue into my rating, it wouldn't be nearly as high, but I just can't hold that against a performing artist. Covenant had just recently played the Kinetik Festival and was following up that appearance with a stop in Brooklyn. Knowing the band doesn't frequent the US that often, I made the trip to Oceana to check it out, and it was well worth it.

The crowd was an enthusiastic group, most of them dressed up in their best goth gear, though the venue was not nearly as packed as I anticipated a Covenant show to be. A few of my companions were big fans of the band, but rarely listened to any other electronic artists. Bearing that in mind, I expected that Covenant would have a broader appeal and a more varied audience. I was wrong in this assumption.

A lengthy intro track played as fogged fill the stage. The keyboardists made their entrance and Eskil Simonsson soon followed, sauntering onto the stage in his business casual attire. Later on, my companions would remark he had that distinguished, older 'David Bowie' look. I'm surprised they could tell as the dimly-lit stage washes provided by the venue made the band look like little more than silhouettes for the majority of the set.

Exaggerated complaints about the venue aside, one of the first things I took note of was during 'Invisible and Silent', which Eskil had announced was his favorite ballad (followed by a fan shouting 'We love anything you do, Eskil!'). Anyone familiar with the song knows that the track modulates upwards at the last chorus. This wasn't enough for Eskil as he proceeded to improvise an even higher harmony clearly different from the recording, and doing quite an admirable job of it. It was impressive hearing the range he could reach in a live setting.

'Ritual Noise' was another stand out track. During a breakdown of the song Eskil announced to everyone, 'Thank you for making this noise with us.' And as the heavy beat came through once more the crowd launched into a round of impromptu, unprompted clapping to the rhythm (surprisingly accurate by American club standards, by the way'¦good job, Brooklyn fans!). This was accented by one of the keyboardists playing a pair of floor toms that had been situated to the front of stage left, which added a nice live element to the performance.

After the track was seemingly finished, Eskil stepped off stage, but the keyboardists remained. A seemingly improvised noise track began with a rather unpleasant high pass filter at the hands of the tom-playing keyboardist, but it was pleasantly relieved by 'Call the Ships to Port' which had to be the most raucous track of the night.

Just imagine the volume of the track momentarily getting softer, then the line: ''¦like whispers in the dark.' BOOM! The track explodes and everyone cheers while throwing their hands up in the air!

Covenant has found a way to get their audience moving, and does so almost effortlessly. Questionable lighting choices aside, it was a concert worth seeing and I look forward to a few years from now whenever Covenant manages to find their way back to the states again.

Zeromancer: 27 March 2010

 Posted by Andre Wiegand  Germany  Edit (5650)
Mar 28 2010
Live Act(s): Zeromancer
Event Date: 27 March 2010
Type of Event: Big Stage Concert
Venue: Hessenhalle
Rated: *****
Zeromancer, who released a new album entitled The Death of Romance" just recently, are touring as a support act (together with Diary of dreams) for Unheilig. The latter being a German band whose newest album "Grosse Freiheit" stormed the charts this month and obtained the first position. This unexpected success, also among non-gothic audience, drew an unusually high for Giessen number of visitors for a gothic concert. Hessenhallen were sold out and accommodated well over 3 000 fans.
It is no news that Zeromancer can boast with a very diverse audience, ranging from average gothic chaps to stock market workers to whatever-you-name kind of people, but what I witnessed that night was way beyond my imagination. Unheilig seems to have cracked the code to the hearts of common, middle aged and older Germans, most of whom have nothing to do with any sort of music scene, let alone the gothic one. A very high number of people in the audience made an impression of average peasants in their 50s wearing Unheilig t-shirts.
Exactly on time Zeromancer hit the stage with their new songs. Twenty minutes later the venue was shaking as the (former?) Industrial boy band blew the speakers with their "Clone Your Lover" visibly impressing the unprepared part of the audience.
Alex’s getting rid of his blazer and exposing his tattooed slim torso was warmly welcomed. Then followed "The Hate Alphabet", an erotically charged "It Sounds Like Love" and the slightly melancholic "The Death of Romance". To make sure the audience gets a serious kick at their behinds the Norwegians performed "Dr Online" just before evacuating the stage for Diary of Dreams.
The sparkling performance made me wish to visit a concert headlined by Zeromancer again, or at least see them play at one of the festivals this summer. The boys are in a great artistic shape and full of enthusiasm to present their music to new potential fans. The only negative thing to say about their gig is that it was too short, but this is the fate of any supporting act.

VNV Nation: 17 December 2009

 Posted by Krzysztof Kramarz (@)  Poland  Edit (5507)
Dec 20 2009
Live Act(s): VNV Nation
Event Date: 17 December 2009
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Progresja
Rated: *****
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"Thank you for coming despite the bad weather. We'll warm you up". With this words, Ronan Harris of VNV Nation welcomed fans, as it was heavily snowing in Warsaw.
Soon, it turned out that the audience warmed up the band with their enthusiastic reactions and radiating energy. The gig consisted mostly of energetic, club track such as Chrome, but the band didn't forget about slower, emotional songs such as "Illusion". Harris seemed to be shocked with the enthusiasm of Polish fans, who cheered the band after every song. "Wow, you are amazing" said Ronan and he repeated it a few times. "This is why I love playing gigs in clubs. In such venues gather people with passion," he added.

The band was returning from Serbia and Croatia, where they sold almost all their merchandise. The leader of the band decided to give away left T-shirts and CDs from stage. "We have few items left, no point in selling it, so just take it" he said. The fans had gifts for the band too. Ronan said that he didn't drink beer because it was a waste of time. "It takes a few hours to drink five beers and you can have the same effect if you drink 3 vodkas. You can do it within 10 seconds though," he explained. He didn't need to repeat. Soon, he was served with cold vodka and there was no way back. He enjoyed his drink and the audience sang one of the traditional drinking songs.

The gig was amazing. Apparently, the key to success was interaction with audience. Actually, a setlist is of minor importance if you can chat with a band on stage, make them drink with you and, if you are lucky enough, receive a gift. Obviously, in the case of VNV Nation the technical side of the performance was impeccable too. Good quality of sound, nice selection of songs and decent duration of the concert proved that VNV Nation deserves prominent position on the futurepop scene.

It was the third VNV Nation gig in Poland and Ronan promised it wasn't their last visit. "We'll be back" he declared with emotion.
The concert deserves the highest note, not only because the excellent performance of the band itself, but also due to the awesome reaction of fans.
Dec 18 2009
Live Act(s): EsOterica, Marilyn Manson
Event Date: 15 December 2009
Type of Event: Big Stage Concert
Venue: O2 Academy
Rated: *****
A concert is not only a cultural or a commercial event. It is also a social event. And gigs of Marilyn Manson tend to attract a whole variety of people.
Before I could access the ticket office and get my press pass I had to walk through a group of 20-30 Christian-oriented demonstrates who protested against Manson’s concert. You would expect those guys to turn up in Texas or Iran, but not in West Europe. Is there no greater evil than Marilyn to demonstrate against? Judging by their slogans those guys were had a very confused idea about the gothic/metal scene and the content of the songs that were to be played that night. Why some Christians and Muslims just cannot let others live their lives like they wish, as long as it complies with the laws of the country? Other religious groups are capable of that.
The support act Esoterica hit the stage just on time. It is not always fun to be a support act. Sometimes they are simply ignored and the audience just doesn’t turn up to see them. Sometimes they are welcomed with cold politeness and lame applause. Sometimes, and I wish it was rarely, they get to feel they are not welcome. But none of the above was the case with Esoterica rocking the house in Glasgow. Especially the younger audience was very responding and celebrated the nu metal/emo artists. Esoterica is a very young act, but their professionalism performing live is rather remarkable. Tobias was not only singing well, he also knew how to communicate with the audience and enliven those in the crowd who were less enthusiastic than the others.
After "Life is Lonely" (so very true) Tobias introduced the band which was followed by a solid performance of "Silence". This song is played in metal/emo clubs on the continent same as in the UK. "Watch this Drive" criticizes the Bush’s war in Iraq and what came out of it. It was followed by "Tomorrow I won’t remember" and "Don’t rely on anyone" closed their 40 minute performance.
A black curtain was hung over the stage. After all preparations for the headliner’s show were done an obscure intro-music filled the venue. One red projector was pointed up the black certain. The hall was filled with smoke. The tension rose.
Here I have to say a few words about the crowd. Except for the expected massive presence of younger emos, goths and metal heads who were optically the most interesting, there were many older people dressed nothing like gothic. An interesting exemplar was a guy dressed like the pope. Appreciate the joke. The funniest thing is that nobody removed his large hat that blocked the view to the spectators behind. On the balcony next to mine there was a father (?) with his son younger than 13 to my estimation. If Esoterica/ Marilyn Manson is one of his first concerts, there is no telling where he’ll be by the age of just 18.
Marilyn and co. opened the show with "This is Evolution". Lasers attached to the frontman’s fingers piercing the dark and the smoke. The crowd responded immediately. The second song on the set was an old hit "Dispensable Teens" and was followed by "Pretty as Swastika" from the new album "The High End of Low".
Twiggy Ramirez re-joined the band for this album. His contribution to the live sound is nothing less than enforcing. It must be mentioned that his appearance on stage has changed a lot since the "Antichrist Superstar" era. No traces of make-up were to spot on Twiggy’s face and his clothes were rather casual for (leather jacket and jeans), but it did the concert no harm. Music is not about what you put on your body.
More older material followed: "Guns, God, Government" and "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" before the band moved to the newest songs.
"Four Rusted Horses" with the line "Everyone will come to my funeral" was performed with a real feeling. "Devour" is another of truly personal new songs masterfully played on that concert.
"Coma White" just had to be there. Performed more in-your-face than on the CD, to my opinion. Marilyn snorted some white powder on the stage. No idea what it was. And "The Dope Show" blew the venue away and was followed by another classic from the "Mechanical Animals" album, "Rock is Dead". The way it sounded to me rock is anything but dead!
The band rounded up the show with "Sweet Dreams" and the explosive "From America". Unfortunately, no encore was played, but still it was almost 90 minutes of a great concert.
The visual side was perhaps more down to earth and less extravagant than in the tours of 1998 -2003 but the ability to excite the crowd and offer one of the best live performances of the darker scene is undisputable there.
Dec 10 2009
Live Act(s): System: FX, Grendel
Event Date: 9 December 2009
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Classic Grand
Rated: *****
By the time I got to Classic Grand club System: FX, the second support act, were already on stage. Their performance started smoothly and the English quartet overtly enjoyed playing for the Glasgow crowd. Glaswegians are known to be a warm, responding audience and they let the guests from the south feel very welcomed. The EBM beats pierced the air while the sound was truly good. Apart of some minor technical problems that did the party-vibe no harm the concert was successful.
System: FX finished the performance with "Total War" and the audience sang the chorus along: "We want total war". No need to take these words seriously. The band is no bunch of blood thirsty militarists. I guess they sing it to entertain the audience that likes it while having no clue about what a war is like.
The main act Grendel hit the stage shortly after 10pm. The live line of one live keyboardist in 2004 has got fortification by a live drummer which made the sound richer and less of a karaoke-like. [VLRK] led his men into the cyber battle waving his war banners high. The 70-80 people in the club joined the leader [VLRK] in this celebration of EBM-industrial. The set successfully combined Grendel’s classics with and the new material from the recent EP "Grendel: Forces" which was also very appealing to Glaswegians.
"Harsh Generation", "Void Malign", "Dirty", "New Flesh", "Soilbleed", "Pax Psychosis", "End of Ages" and others were all there, not necessarily in this running order. There were no technical hitches and the whole performance was very energetic and swept the audience away. Being through with the set VLRK introduced his partners in crime [M4RC] and [S42H], but instead of having some well earned rest they were called out to play encore. The show ended with "Zombie". Unbelievable, but this song is played in very mainstream clubs of Glasgow while the average chart music fans dance their behinds to the mighty tunes of "Zombie". They could’ve played another encore, I believe, but there’re only good things to say about Grendel’s live ability. The fans I talked to after the concert share this opinion completely.
There was an after-party on the lower floor afterwards. The whole party night was more or less through by the midnight which makes sense taking in account that most people had to go to work the very next day.
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