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The Young Gods and guests (live)

15th Anniversary Show
Queen Elizabeth Hall,
South Bank Centre, London
4th December 2000

As usual, I arrived at this show in a rush, a little late and with no idea of what to expect. Straight into complete darkness and tracked by lovely ambient sounds and an over-zealous usher trying to get me to take any seat as there were plenty available and filming was going on, so wandering about finding my assigned one was not desirable. Spacey, pretty, and drawn out, the atmospheric lilting of synths soothed me out of my disoriented fast pace while my eyes adjusted and took in the stage. Two banks of gear set up, one each on the right and left of the stage, engineered by non-descript-seeming men from The Young Gods under well-focussed spot lights provided this hypnotic ease and I settled in.

A lecture followed given by anthropologist Jeremy Narby concerning the similarities between modern science’s discoveries of DNA and its properties and the ancient shamans of the Amazon with their observations of the spirit of life as seen through organic inductions of a psychoactive state of being. Narby outlined the evils of the European overrun and destruction of cultures and species as a practice, and ended up by sending out a message that everyone should learn a second language. All this was soundtracked with sounds of an electronic jungle and yet more stretched out ambience.

A short darkened break gave way to more gorgeous music (courtresy of an offstage Franz Treichler) and one of the best five minutes of modern dance I have ever witnessed. A bleak and sensual presentation by choreographer Gilles Jobin and dancer Nuria de Ulibarri became one of those moments for me when you know you have witnessed a performance which cannot be described accurately, and is lost once it ends to those who have missed it.

Intermission, and then The Young Gods play. The QEH is the best and worst place to watch a rock band in concert. The sound is top quality, letting all the bass loose to rumble the seats, clearly amplifying vocals and terraced in the perfect proportions for all to have good views. On the other hand, there are all those seats, and very little room for the pent up energies of its visitors to dance and move and be moved. This was punctuated in full tonight. The high energy, loud and booming sounds of YG’s Industrial Electo drum-driven music raised a frenzy among those fans who had been just waiting for their realease during all the moody atmospherics of the pre-break performances.

The hall was not packed out, but the front of the stage and the high sloped isles soon filled with flailing dreads, arms and swaying bodies of the more enthusiastic. Young God’s gave a near perfect studio quality performance of their forthcoming album Second Nature without a glitch. Triechler purred, growled and wailed his vocals with such precision that the phrase “classically trained” did crawl through my mind. The sampled guitar chords, the Industrial synth rhythms only gave way for Bernard Trontin‘s drumming which should be renamed booming. More and more Goth-rockers filled the isles with their excited bodies, and I sat back and thought, “this sounds just like Nine Inch Nails…” To their credit of course, The Young Gods pioneered this sound, and I was being blasé, but the last 10 years of commercialization of this razor-edge genre has zapped my energy for charged up electronic Industrial Dance music. I am sure that I was quite alone in my cynicism; certainly the audience took full advantage of the chance to be repowered and demanded the two carefully orchestrated encores which ended the show. Of note, and what caught my ears and imagination more than anything else was the group’s rendition of Kurt Weill‘s “Seerauber Jenny” from his and Brecht‘s Threepenny Opera, beautifully played and sung and carried out in an Electro Cabaret style that would probably gain the approval of its composer for the finale.

I look forward to listening to Second Nature in more detail than one could ascertain at a concert, and I suppose that is one of the aims of such a performance. I suspect that it all will become more interesting to me with attentive listening as clearly Treichler, Al Comet and Trontin have a magic and a wealth of talent which inspires fans and fellow musicians to near worship and obvious emulation. It must be said that they use the tricks of the sampler to a higher degree than most, and perhaps to a better purpose. I wonder still though if their efforts could not be put to better use on inventing new teritories which haven’t already been run-down by their followers?

-Lilly Novak-

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