Into the Pit: 054: VNV Nation – Live at Corporation Sheffield – 15-December 2007

Getting in a little late, I missed the beginning of Kloq, but got to see the majority of a set I had been looking forward to seeing.

VNV Nation

In The Nursery

Corporation, Sheffield
15 December 2007

Note: An edited version of this review appeared in Alternative Magazine Issue 08

KloqNot a lot like many of the “electro”/”EBM” bands around at present, instead they sound an awful lot like Nitzer Ebb. For me, at least, this is no bad thing: and the vocalist Greg C sounds an awful lot like NE man Douglas McCarthy, who did vocals on a couple of tracks in the studio. Top track was previous single We’re Just Physical, which is clean, minimal EBM, but the rest of the set was of a high quality.

In The NurserySecond support In The Nursery took to the stage amid a stage-full of equipment – mainly different types of drums. Needless to say, with two drummers it was a performance of awesome rhythmic power, the near-tribal beats merging seamlessly with the ethereal synths and vocals. The sound mix could perhaps have been better for some of it – at times the drums were overpowering everything – but even with that minor quibble it was a riveting three-quarters of an hour, that had most of the audience on their side by the end of it. Some feat when a fair number in the crowd had never even heard of them previously. Stand-out moments for me were the sole track played from latest album Era (Silent In Time), and a pulverising Bombed. Seven years since they last played Sheffield, and 26 years in the band’s existence, they still sound vital and perhaps are due rather more recognition than they have had in the past.

VNV NationAnd so, onto the headliners, VNV Nation. Nearly four months have passed already since their headlining slot at Infest, although as was noted after the set, going on the reception that this lot got, it was as if no-one had seen them live in years, never mind months. While almost all of VNV’s output is not to my taste, it can’t be doubted at all that as a live act they are very, very good at what they do: providing anthemic “electro”/”EBM” that clearly delivers exactly what the crowd want in spades. The set – much as at Infest – was almost equally built around new and old material, delivering all the club hits you would expect (Dark Angel, Rubicon, Chrome, Standing, Honour, etc) and a few more besides. Three, or maybe four, encores was pushing it a bit, although over two hours of onstage time certainly meant that the crowd got their money’s worth. As always, Ronan’s brilliant between-song banter was highly entertaining, picking on an over-amorous couple in the crowd, questioning why on earth people want to take “horse tranquilisers”, and just generally being a great “host”, as it were. The other refreshing thing is that beyond the often rather serious nature of the songs, nothing is taken too seriously, and as always the band were more than happy to hang around in the club afterwards, greeting everyone that spoke to them, posing for photos and generally having a good time, a rare example of a band who have had big success but still haven’t forgotten their many fans that clearly got them there in the first place.

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