Into the Pit: 032: The Birthday Massacre – Live at the Cockpit Leeds – 18-July 2006

Something around 40 minutes behind time, the Screaming Banshee Aircrew appear and waste no time in getting on with it. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed that something wasn’t quite right last night. I’ve seen SBA a lot over the past year or two, and they have been much better than this. Off-nights happen to everyone, of course, and the intense heat in the venue really can’t have helped.

A bit more of a wait, and then it was onto the UK live debut of The Birthday Massacre. What was immediately noticeable was the cross-section of the (large) audience – a mix of the usual “goth” types and then a large number of younger “emo” kids – and they were a highly enthusiastic bunch, too, with the merchandise stand doing brisk business and various random chants as the band trickled onstage.

Visually the band are a striking lot. Alternately dressed in all-white or all-black, with lead singer Chibi (when she finally arrives onstage as Lover’s End gets going) in a mix of the two colours in the centre of it all. And unusually for a “goth” band, there is (like SBA before them) a good element of humour involved. The rest of the band may be striking poses, but Chibi is constantly on the verge, it seems, of breaking into giggles at any moment – and her infectious enthusiasm keeps the momentum of the gig moving forward.

Behind all the fun and posing, there is a very tight band. Even with six band members crammed onstage, the bouncy, almost-pop goth of many of their songs is reproduced well – my only complaint with the sound being Chibi’s vocals probably not being loud enough at points. A perfect example was second song Play Dead, probably their most “pop” song of all, with the soaring chorus and nagging melody that claws it’s way into your head and doesn’t let go.

Horrorshow and Violet keep things moving at a good pace, before things slow down with old track To Die For, and then into the stomping, growling Blue, made all the more meancing by the strange, twinkling keyboard effects that flicker in the background through it. Still, in my opinion, their best track, too, and a world away from their more “poppy” side.

The elegiac wistfulness of Holiday sweeps through the crowd, before the set ends on a new song – and a promising one at that, in the crunching style of Blue. Of course, they weren’t going to be let out without an encore, and so it proved – the reaction to the start of the dark, playful headfuck of Happy Birthday showing the fan’s favourite song quite clearly. One last song was squeezed from them, in the form of Video Kid.

After this triumphant performance, those planning on going to the gigs on the rest of this short UK tour will not be disappointed. The band are getting rather popular, it seems, with their appeal reaching far beyond the “goth” scene (the gig was featured in Metro too, apparently) and it is only a matter of time before they gain an even bigger audience – and good luck to them.

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