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Einstürzende Neubauten (live at The Forum)

London 4 May 2017

Einstürzende Neubauten live May 2017Einstürzende Neubauten are a band very close to my heart — indeed, they reside in tattoo form on my left arm, so it’s literally a matter of inches. So I am delighted when, having given up on seeing what’s billed as a Greatest Hits set due to lack of funds, I find out at the last minute that I’ve been assigned to cover it for this esteemed organ (no giggling at the back).

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Fields Of The Nephilim / The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Forum: summer solstice 2016)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer Solstice

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer SolsticeLondon 20 June 2016

Over a quarter of a century ago, when I was much younger and prettier, I moved to London. The first weekend I was here I went to see Fields Of The Nephilim, who had just released the prog-goth epic Elizium. The support were a band called Creaming Jesus, a wickedly funny goth/metal band fronted by a dude with a world-class glare and a serious grudge against mike stands.

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Laibach (live at The Forum) and The Ex / Bamboo (live at The Hope And Ruin)

London, 12 April 2016 Brighton, 13 April 2016

Laibach live at The Forum April 2016 (Picture: Agata Urbaniak)I went to two gigs in two days for Freq. They were unrelated, possibly, but worth pointing out that gigs are experiential things — it’s often more about the being there than what was played and such. That or I’m too lazy to write two separate reviews, so collapsing them into one with some spiel about commonalities is a rhetorical feint.

But before I do that, just a quick couple of lines on The Ex‘s support, Bamboo — not a band I’d come across before, but doing a fine line in big pop numbers with synth, heavily-effected banjo and drums. Their drummer for the evening, Andy Pyne,

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Fields Of The Nephilim / Black Volition (live at The Forum)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum December 2015London 21 December 2015

Having been unceremoniously shunted from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (due to what is officially known as “structural weaknesses” but which I personally suspect may be closer to “some bastard wants to make some luxury flats”, Fields Of The Nephilim are tonight gracing The Forum with their presence. The date’s also been changed, which is undoubtedly a right bastard for people who can’t change their plans, but which on the plus side means they’re playing on the winter solstice, which is pretty much the perfect time of year for a Nephs gig.

And they’ve brought friends. And what wildly eclectic friends they are. Black Volition are confusing, confounding, and rather wonderful. They start off kinda Bauhausy, playing

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New Model Army (live at The Forum)

London 11 December 2015

“And you could be there…”

Zoom in. You’re down the front at The Forum. New Model Army are playing up a storm, and Justin Sullivan has put you right in the head of a religious extremist. They started with the never-more-appropriate-than-right-now-when-we’ve-just-started-bombing-in-Syria “Bloodsports”, a song which in itself encapsulates the endless War On Terror, from the packing of bullets to the bombing raids and slaughter to the impact on personal and community relations back home in the space of three minutes. They let it form a state-of-the-world triptych with angry classic “Christian Militia” at its centrepiece, rounded off by “Breathing”, an intimate glimpse into the mind of a terrorist atrocity survivor. As a statement of intent, it’s powerfully intense. As the opening to a rock show, it kicks ass. Zoom out. Take a breath.

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Gary Numan (live at The Forum)

Gary Numan live at The Forum October 2015

London 23 October 2015

Can you imagine how hard it was being Gary Numan in 1989? A decade earlier, shortly after “Are Friends Electric?” had been released in May 1979, Tubeway Army made their triumphant appearance on Top of the Pops, and the sound of a generational gasp could be heard all the way from Truro to Inverness. Punk’s white light had burned away so much dead wood, reinvigorating youth culture and opening the door for those with the boldness of vision to step through it. Now, a new dream of futurism seemed completely embodied in Tubeway Army’s woozy Polymoog synth wash and Numan’s cold, android stare. Like the Apollo space programme earlier in the decade, Numan’s emergence into the musical firmament promised a new dawn that felt so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

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Half Man Half Biscuit (live at The Forum)

London 15 October 2015

OK, I’ll start with the controversial part, just so as I can get that out of the way and you can decide for yourself whether you want to read any further in this review. Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit, for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, is one of the finest living British lyricists currently working. New Model Army‘s Justin Sullivan‘s another, and you could also add The The‘s reclusive genius Matt Johnson, if you could go back in time to the last time he released any songs. Some people would argue Morrissey, but again you’d have to go back in time to the last time he was producing quality work and wasn’t being a twat, which is… hmm… quite a long time ago.

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Babymetal (live at The Forum) – a review and a riposte

London 7 July 2014

Kev Nickells went to see Japanese kawaii-rockers Babymetal live in London, and loved it. Barnabas Y, however, offers a riposte to the popularity of the genre-bending phenomenon. Pictures by James Sting.

The review

You should probably be aware of Babymetal by now. I first came across them when “the hard man of Harsh Noise Wall” Clive Henry put a link up to it. It ticked quite a few boxes for me — stylised in a way that didn’t quite make sense and seeming to be the axis of two very imagey genres – metal and J-pop. Now, I know the average metal purist will tend towards saying that metal doesn’t have anything to do with image but they are a dick who has no idea how ridiculous a Flying V looks. There’s a good reason that high street fashion and corporate graphic designers picked

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Gary Numan (live at The Forum)

London 7 December 2012

Picture copyright (C) Emerson Tan 2012It’s cold outside… but nice and cosy warm in The Forum, where the throng of Numanoids, all wonderfully resplendent in black, have gathered to hear the music from the master. While the intro music plays the anticipation and tension mounts. Crys of “NuuuuuuMaaaaan!” ring out around the venue. Then suddenly the lights go out and a massive roar goes up from the crowd as the stage set is revealed. Two synthesizer players sit either side of a drum kit surrounded by their keyboards, all three atop a platform that has cold white lights shining from inside. This design reminded me a little of his ’79 Living Ornaments set, and it was perfectly in keeping because tonight

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Godflesh (live at The Forum)

London 16 June 2011

Returning to the London stage after testing the waters at Hellfest, Roadburn and the redoubtable Supersonic festivals (the latter of course taking place on their home ground in Birmingham), GC Green and Justin Broadrick make an admirable choice to not overdo their stage dressing at The Forum tonight. One modestly-large amp stack each, and a screen for projections, plus some smoke. Actually, a lot of smoke; not in the SunnO))) fashion, where the audience cannot see more than a metre in front of their faces, but enough to make for a constant swirl of thick atmospherics under the colour-switching lights.

Starting off as they mean to proceed for the rest of the night, “Like Rats” blasts out its vitriol and barely-concealed contempt for humanity, Broadrick’s guitar shredding in what is at once

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Hawkwind (live at The Forum)

The Forum, London 17 December 2010

This is Earth calling, this is Earth calling……

It’s mid-winter, snow is on the ground and Arctic winds blow and London is bought to a stand still by Tube strikes and 2cm of the white stuff (no not the “Right Stuff”). Beaming down from their planet, Hawkwind are on their usual winter solstice space ritual tour and tonight is its final night.

Hawkwind live at The Forum

What better way to warm the frozen masses than to slide into a rousing rendition of the X In Search of Space classic “You Shouldn’t Do That.” In fact tonight Hawkwind manage to slip in a few little surprises. From the moment the set starts with Tim Blake’s space synthesizer giving an electronic countdown to cosmic blast off you know you’re going to be in for a treat. Then the rest of

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Skinny Puppy (live)

The Forum, London 18 July 2010

Orge unmaskedcEvin KeySkinny Puppy shows are pretty much bound to be weird, and more than a tad befuddling; bemusing even. Where else can a grown man shimmy onstage dressed like cross between a lightshow-bejewelled Torquemada and the dead king of Sutton Hoo, all pointy white cone-hat and empty-socketed stare against a background of videogame corridors – which it soon transpires on further exposure are probably filmed in the real world – and a panorama of desert warfare fallout and urban debris colour-filtered into psychedelic abstraction. Skinny Puppy’s musical approach is somewhat similar to their visual sense; distorting, inverting and making the organisation of commonplace sounds unfamiliar and more than a bit digitally outré. Slipping wraith-like between the precise boundaries of genre with an unnerving adroitness, walking the tightrope between the

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Butthole Surfers (live at The Forum)

The Forum, LondonPaul Leary, still weird after all these years 26 July 2008

Gibby ahoy!They’re certainly not 22 going on 23 any more, but the Butthole Surfers have taken measures to ensure their set goes down in properly deranged psychedelic hardcore style tonight. First, it’s the classic late Eighties lineup of Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary at the front and centre, with the rhythm section filled out by Theresa Nervosa and King Coffey, still managing to stand up and drums like being posseessed, and the heavily-bearded, flying-axed bass courtesy of Jeff Pinkus provides a suitably weird backwoods presence, especially as the rest of the band seem to have grown into a look which harks back to their meeting as accountancy students all

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Psychic TV (live)

Genesis fucking P-Orridge (click for larger image) (pic: Mark Pilkington)The Forum, London 9 October 2004

Having reincarnated with a new touring band as PTV3, Genesis P-Orridge returned to the London stage five years after his triumphant – if ultimately unsatisfying – Royal Festival Hall cocking of snooks and other no doubt pierced appendages (how does one pierce a cocked snook, exactly?) at the ravenous tabloids which had hounded him into Californian exile. Where that show had failed musically, at least as far as Psychic TV were concerned (check the DVD of the event for further evidence), it had worked on so many other levels: gloriously camp video introductions from the late Quentin Crisp; support sets from the fabulous Master Musicians Of Jajouka and Billy Childish being among other performance highlights; the thoroughly psychedelic atmosphere and lightshow; the strategic planning of the gig to take place both

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Skinny Puppy (live)

A foggy Skinny Puppy emerge...(click for larger image)The Forum, London 19 July 2004

It’s a point that’s already been made, I’m sure, but there’s at least something to be said for the otherwise abhorrent War Against Terror. Just look, or rather listen, to what’s going on. As well as the politicisation of once-apathetic masses, the already-politicised but seldom heard of Industrial Rock giants are all coming out to the barricades to chuck stuff. See the headlines – “NEW MINISTRY ALBUM NOT SHIT SHOCKER!”, “KMFDM INVADE BRITAIN AGAIN” and now even “SKINNY PUPPY FINALLY RETURN TO LONDON”.

Having bought tickets for their last (cancelled) London gig back in, ooh, 1990 or thereabouts, I have to say I was really quite excited about this, and like an excitable schoolgirl (albeit one who was into anguished shrieks and cut-up beats) prepared myself for the occasion with a couple of

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