The early start – doors at 1800 – meant that Leech Woman played to a half-empty room, which was a damned shame seeing as this was billed as their last gig in the UK for some time – main man Alex is moving abroad. There was no room for sentiment, though, as LW roared through half-an-hour or so of their industrial-noise-metal fury as if they were attempting to destroy the very foundations of the building they were playing in. A good thing I had my earplugs with me, I can tell you – but despite the extreme volume the sound was surprisingly clear. Their cover of Big Black‘s Kerosene made all the more sense, too, when I thought about it – Leech Woman remain one of the few bands to have followed a similarly uncompromising line to Steve Albini’s noise-rock legends, making no attempt to conform with any passing trends, and indeed that is perhaps why they were somewhat unfairly at the bottom of the bill here.
This view was made all the clearer when AlterRed took to the stage, looking like outcasts from some goth-themed costume party, and with some unintelligable “stageshow” involving a girl dressed like a clockwork doll and another girl who was manhandled rather roughly onto the stage. What the band were trying to be made even less sense – goth crooning for some of the vocals, the music a bit of a dog’s dinner of bleepy beats, sweeping goth, rock and nothing that really helped to define the band. Probably not helped by the fact that the female vocalist’s microphone seemingly was not working, the performance was all a bit of a mess, and I chose to move out of the room and catch up with friends rather than endure more than about three songs.
I was equally mystified by Trauma Pet, too. What I could endure struck me as little more than pedestrian goth-tinged rock with caterwauling vocals that seemed hopelessly out of place on this bill. Not much else to say as I couldn’t face watching more than a couple of songs.
I’ve seen KMFDM before, of course, although that was a slightly chaotic, truncated evening that saw us have to leave before the end due to it running so late. So with an absurd 2200 curfew, it was sadly unsurprising – although no less infuriating – to find that once again we had a shortened set due to everything running late (the copies of the setlists that people picked up later saw Davai, Never Say Never and Adios crossed out). I thought at the time that the four hours allotted for the gig was never going to be enough – particularly as, as per usual, things began late – and so it proved. Why bother with three support bands when there is clearly no recovery time? Two would have done just fine, certainly in light of the support bands we did get.
Bait & Switch
Son Of A Gun
Looking For Strange
Saft Und Kraft
Free Your Hate
A Drug Against War
But anyway, enough griping about shoddy organisation, what about the set? Things got off to a spectacular start in the by-now-packed venue with the mock-orchestral intro of D.I.Y., followed by the bouncing, pounding sloganeering of the track being roared back by a large proportion of the crowd. This was followed by an equally storming Bait & Switch, and these two set the pace for much of the rest of the set in many ways – a reasonable mix of old and new, and a good mix of tracks fronted by either Sascha or Lucia – indeed a far better balance than last time. Also of note was how heavy they sounded – in many cases the samples were pushed down in the mix a little by the relentless “metal” feel of the set, which oddly enough worked pretty well. Particularly, in fact, when the faster tracks kicked in – Son Of A Gun in particular sounded immense, and Looking For Strange also sounded pretty damned good.
Conversely, this made Megalomaniac stick out a little in the set, being so heavily-based on electronics, but it was a welcome appearance all the same and by this point, the crowd clearly agreed with the ever-growing moshpit down the front. A storming Free Your Hate only fuelled the fire, and as a lightning-fast A Drug Against War closed the set, the ‘pit exploded ever wider. The drumming on that track was exceptional, too – I’d always considered it’s extreme pace something of a test for a drummer, and so it proved!
Baying calls for an encore saw them reappear for just two more songs – they finished bang-on 2200 – a bulldozing WWIII followed by the legendary Godlike, and I can’t think of a better closer than that. While the truncation of the set was frustrating, what we did get was awesome fun, and while a few more older tracks would have been nice – this is part of the 25th anniversary tour, after all – what we did get was still more than good enough.