20 Years Of Live Music: 2017

Article June 8th, 2017

2017 is a story as yet unwritten in full, as the 20-year mark where this tale draws to a close arrives in the middle. And hence a lengthy write-up is beyond me, as I don’t have a years worth of context to build the gigging tales round. But there is one event that does justify a bit more, and those of you who have read this far can probably guess what it is.

 

June 2017 – Get Around, Get Around, I Get Around (When it’s time to go, I’m the first to know)

WGT 2017 was always intended as my 20th anniversary of gigging. It was perhaps indicative of the significance that the itinerary for the weekend was planned with enormous precision, going as far as to print out the Monkeypress.de timetable and tracing ideal paths with highlighter pen.

And as if to give me a sign, the travel gods smiled upon me and the plan just ‘worked’. 21 bands were seen in all, of which only one (Skinny Puppy) I had seen before. And with such treats as an all-star cast reviving the Dorsetshire name or Autodafeh up-close-and-personal in the Mortizbastei, this was not a case of scratching around for something to do. But it just so turned out that the two biggest highlights of my festival occurred at the same venue, two nights apart. The Stadtbad, a old swimming baths converted into a venue, would host both.

The first was Kite, a synthpop band from Sweden, but somewhat different from the standard-issue Vince Clarke wannabes (many of whom I admit are bloody good at it!). A stage set that projected images onto satellite dishes, neon piping on the keyboards and a vocalist whose voice it was hard to draw any comparisons to (Demis Roussous is the closest I could get). Add some excellent songwriting and a well-considered running order (‘Castle of Sand’ makes such an epic finale) and it really was a case of an act in an overcrowded genre devising something truly unique.

The second was Revolting Cocks. A band that had existed in an on-off fashion for many years, with a Revolving Lineup. The current form of the band didn’t feature Al Jourgensen, and with Luc Van Acker off sick, there were doubts over the legitimacy of the lineup. No, I’m lying. There weren’t. Richard 23 was back in the band, Chris Connelly was on-board too, as was Paul Barker. With two Acumen Nation members on loan, it was still an industrial supergroup worth seeing.

With R23 handing the first half of the show (the ‘Big Sexy Land’ album) and Chris Connelly the second half (everything else), the thing that amazed me is how such a motley assortment of musicians could come together to actually play a surprisingly tight set (despite a brief ‘total technical’ early on). It was also a reminder that even if their albums weren’t the most finely-tuned things ever to be pressed onto vinyl or silver disc, there were more than enough good tracks to build a set, and with an encore of ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’, it was a true case of a performance far beyond expectations. Who else could make Skinny Puppy of all people seem like an anti-climax?

 

Plus these snapshots…..

Already proving to be a great year.

  • Three bands beginning with B to start the year – Black Light Ascension, B-Movie, Blue Zoo. Sang along quite loudly to ‘Remembrance Day’.
  • Another punk double-header (The Rezillos, Spizzenergi) followed by a WGT-style venue hop to see Die Kur play a late set at The Unicorn.
  • Unexpected appearance of Deviant UK supporting Orgy, reminded how good they could be.
  • Last-minute decision to see Aurelio Voltaire the Dome. Don’t normally go for this kind of gig, but this was entertaining! Solo singer-songwriters have to more than strum and sing to work a crowd, this guy certainly grasps that!
  • Finally saw Pig and Cubanate, two elusive 90s industrial names finally back on the road.
  • Diary of Dreams supported by Empathy Test – does Friday evening get better, ever?

Onto the ending, or back to the start.

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