2006 was over and I was glad to see the back of it. Despite much effort and many enjoyable occurrences on the way, my life had gone nowhere and by the end of the year began to feel very stagnant, finding myself unable to change any aspect of my life, for better or for worse.
But what of 2007, the year which either delivered everything I wanted or led me to give up even trying, at least for a year or so. No more EOL-Audio. No more big house at the end of the Piccadilly line. And no more being single, a relationship began in March, although we went to relatively few gigs together, our musical tastes aligning only on occasion. Everything changed this year.
I didn’t exactly take a break from the scene, but I was never any less involved that I was in 2007. Naturally, things all changed again in 2008 such that I’d pick things up again and also restart much-missed activities such as DJing again, but that’s a story for a later part. I did still go to SOME gigs this year, and here’s the story of the best ones.
April 2007 – I’ve Got Nothing To Lose and Everything To Win
Remember the tale of The Water Rats in 2004? For the whole affair to die within a year just seemed wrong. It couldn’t end there, and sure enough Earth Loop Recall re-assembled with a revised line-up and did a couple of ‘old songs’ shows (one in Cheltenham, and one I went to in London) before cracking on with the new material. Madame JoJos was chosen as the, erm, intimate setting for the London show.
It wasn’t quite the line-up that burnt bright and burnt out a few years previous, but with an added live drummer, the 2007-vintage ELR set took on a more primal dimension than the original band. Sure enough, the assorted mix of old fans, goths and indie rockers seemed happy enough with the set as it was being delivered. All the old favourites were getting a look in, plus a brief sample of some new material.
But a couple of us wanted more. During the full-throttle, all-bets-are-off blast of ‘Optimism Creeping In’, we gave each other a couple of knowing glances, followed by a couple of knowing prods. Then a shove or two. Fuck it, we thought. This gig wouldn’t be completed without a mosh pit.
A third body joined us before the end of the song, which was to be the penultimate one for the night. Luckily, the last song just happened to be ‘Like Machines’. Eight minutes in length, there would be ample time to slog it out down on the dancefloor. So that’s what we did. From the starting duo, we’d willingly pulled at least another dozen from the still rather sparse crowd in JoJos.
Once again, the band would self-destruct within a year after another run of increasingly inconsistent shows and this time haven’t been heard from again. I personally haven’t triggered a mosh-pit since then, either. Must have grown out of them or something.
May 2007 – Would She Give It As A Gift?
2007 wasn’t a great year for big-name band-bagging, but one exception was Orchestral Manoevre Manuevre Manovres OMD. The band had recently announced their reformation, and we’d got some decent seats for their live comeback. Hammersmith Apollo balcony front row. Having not yet recorded any new material, they were touring behind their Architecture and Morality album from 1983. ‘Play entire classic album live’ was something of a trend at the time, but this was the only time I’d see a show of this kind. And I didn’t even know the album all that well.
Still, the stage set looked pretty decent, and once Andy McCluskey walked on singing the opening tones of ‘Sealand’, it briefly looked like we were going to get a polished performance. Briefly, because next up was ‘The New Stone Age’, where he promptly picked up a guitar and started DANCING. I didn’t know prior to coming that this was meant to be a ‘feature’ of OMD shows, but this guy was proper ‘Dad grooving away at the School Disco’ style. Roll with the Cringes, Jonny – the music still sounds pretty good.
A few tracks later, and it all made sense, because it was time for ‘Maid Of Orleans’. I’m no religious man, but somehow the Catholic imagery, combined with a mixture of heartfelt vocal delivery, waltz-time and uncontrolled limb movement combined to truly encapsulate the OMD live experience. A song I’d only sort of liked before had become my dead-cert favourite. If the audience reaction was anything to go by, it was most people’s favourite already.
With the album performed within 40 minutes, the second half of the show was all their other hit singles, not a bad song amongst them, but somehow, Maid of Orleans stood out, head and wobbly shoulders over the rest. You can’t dance Andy, but you can’t half write a decent tune.
May 2007 – Welcome To Paradise
WGT didn’t seem as necessary this year, given everything that had occurred, so I treated it more as a celebration of everything that had happened. Such experiences as the only Retrosic live show to date, Heimataerde’s stage debut and watching Punto Omega outside in a thunderstorm might all have made it into this review in lesser years, but there was one overriding memory from Leipzig 2007. Front 242.
OK, I’d seen them twice before – a workmanlike show in London late 2000 (when they were still touring their acid techno remixes) and that much-delayed performance in Stockholm the previous year. But somehow I knew they could do better. The band that had influenced so much of my favourite music had a reputation for an energizing live show and I was yet to feel it. Until Saturday night at WGT 2007.
Despite Psyclon Nine’s best attempt at alienating the audience, the venue was packed to the gills by showtime. And this time the magic worked. A set loaded with classic tracks, performed in the proper, authentic manner, and a 8000-strong crowd set in motion by the pounding body beats. The songs got more and more anthemic, the sing-alongs got louder (and less tuneful), and by the time we got to ‘Headhunter’ the whole venue was caught up in the frenzy of this 100% dead-cert classic track being performed live by the original artists. Germany loves it’s classic EBM, and I do, too.
The encore was inevitable. And they still had one surprise up their sleeves. Kampfberiet? A slow, almost-forgotten album track from their debut release? Surely not? Yet the slow, menacing treatment they gave this song served as a counterpoint to what we’d already heard. The insertion of a few lines of ‘Radioactivity’ in Jean-Luc’s vocal paid tribute to their own influences, too. The point was made, though. The Frontmen had another side, more subtle and less confrontational.
Then of course came ‘Punish Your Machine’, just to prove they were in fact unsubtle and confrontational most of the time after all. But what the hell, I’d had my definitive 242 experience.
The rest of the year wandered along, with relatively few gigs of note (and no more festivals) in it’s latter half – my attentions were elsewhere at the time. Still, things would wake up in 2008.…
Plus these snapshots…..
Bit thin on the ground this year…..
- The celebratory atmosphere surrounding two NIN shows and one Combichrist show early in the year.
- Marking my 10-years-of-gigging, and hence the halfway point of this story, by bagging a free ticket to the Pet Shop Boys.
- Three successive weekends in October watching pre-Slimelight gigs upstairs at Elektrowerkz. Surprised no-one I knew came to see Legendary Pink Dots, but I’ve never truly sussed out their fanbase.