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Sorrow/David Tibet (live)

The Underworld, London
2nd December 2000

What was supposed to be a World Serpent presents show with Sol Invictus, Sorrow, and Ostara turned out to be a lot less/more, depending on how you look at it. Due to illness, Tony Wakeford and Sol Invictus were forced to cancel, and due to lateness(my own), I missed seeing Ostara. I did arrive in time to catch the end of a set by some man called Joe, who I have yet to identify. His acoustic guitar and John Denver-ish lyrics seemed really very out of place and I wondered if it was someone’s idea of a fun joke to play on the black-clad, maquiage extrodinaire who had obviously come in search of the dark sonics which help mainline World Serpent.

To the pleasant shock of everybody, this guy Joe was suddenly joined onstage by none other than David Tibet and Michael Cashmore, and instantly Joe was raised to another level of esteem. Together they performed a gorgeous rendition of “A Sadness Song”, full of all the magick which is Tibet, assuring a caring lot of Current 93 fans that Tibet has indeed survived well thru his own recent illness. Chills went up and down my spine to hear him sing and sing so well. Instantly, my £10 ticket proved its worth.

A flash-quick set change and Sorrow came to the stage, now as headliner. Rose Mcdowall, Robert Lee, and various other musicians of note (who I can’t name because they weren’t introduced and the Sorrow site is down) came on looking and sounding as Goth as you like it. I was first struck with Lee’s beautiful piano-patched keyboarding and later impressed by his versatility playing also guitars and violin, wielding each instrument as only and expert can and pulling forth from them the most haunting music. A lovely accompaniment to Rose’s airy voice. The Sorrow set was brief, with short songs and quick breaks between them. Rose seemed to be a bit bored by it all, uncomfortable as she struggled to keep her guitar and/or rubber bat-wings across her shoulder, her song lists in place. She quipped with the audience a little, and made some gesturing for dramatic effect, but the moments when she gets herself lost in a lyric were few and modest. Hers is a voice that when allowed to soar will do so to the greatest heights, and with an operatic flourish that is ghostly and nearly frighteningly beautiful. Tonight she was not letting the overdone locals in on this. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see Sorrow and their diminutive Bad Fairy Queen, and their brand of Goth-Folk musick may be such that brings on recognition by the dark masses.

As is often the case with London shows, curfew was called too soon, and the crowd was rushed out into the cold night so that The Underworld could sweep up and get ready to put on whatever poxy club night they had in store. It seems like if Sorrow had not had such time pressure against them, they could have possibly unwound into a freeform of sorts, maybe even bringing on Tibet again for a collaboration which I can only imagine and wish I’d seen.

-Lilly Novak-

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