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introPulp, Duisburg, Germany
12th September 2013
Covenant & Aesthetic Perfection

Just after releasing their brand new and critically acclaimed album 'Leaving Babylon', Swedish Electro heroes COVENANT went on a special German club tour with ten gigs. We had the honour to witness the first date in Duisburg.

Aesthetic Perfection

The Pulp in Duisburg is a pretty cool location! It has the title “the event castle” and while the Pulp looks rather unremarkable and not a bit like castle from the outside, the interior is designed with a lot of love for details and pretty much like you would imagine a spooky castle hall in a vintage fantasy movie. The concert took place at the big club room in the back of the building, and when AESTHETIC PERFECTION entered the stage the place was already nicely filled although the American band started their show half an hour earlier than announced. AESTHETIC PERFECTION is Daniel Graves' musical playground and although he started this project 13 years ago already it was the album 'All Beauty Destroyed' from 2011 which eventually brought major attention to this Electro outlet.


Live on stage Daniel Graves was supported by Elliot Berlin on keyboards and Tim van Horn on drums and the reaction from the first song on proved that there were some people in the crowd especially to see AESTHETIC PERFECTION. Graves, who had a flamboyant black and white make-up in form of a hand across his face, was very active on stage and picked up the good vibe so that he got people really moving quite a bit. The sound at the Pulp was not optimal yet, especially the acoustic drums came across a bit dominant and clanking. However, hits like 'Inhuman' or 'The Devil's in the Details' did their job and with the four year old Hellectro club smasher 'The Great Depression' AESTHETIC PERFECTION took a leave of an audience which should be warmed up well now. /


01. Antibody
02. Inhuman
03. The Devil's in the Details
04. One and Only
05. The Siren
06. The Ones
07. Filthy Design
08. Hit the Streets
09. Pale
10. The Dark Half
11. The Great Depression

Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7.3 / 10



After AESTHETIC PERFECTION's show, the curtains of the stage were closed to hide the changeover of the stage set-up form the eyes. While the hall lights were still on 'Leaving Babylon II', the ghost track from the new album, resounded from a playback until the first notes of the intro 'Babylon Dawn' were to be heard rich and powerfully. The curtains were finally drawn back to reveal Daniel Jonasson and new member Andreas Catjar behind their keyboard racks at the edge of a stage. Jonasson did the vocals of the opener 'Leaving Babylon' with a heavily vocoded voice until finally singer Eskil Simonsson appeared to join him. The opener merged into 'Ritual Noise', the hit single from the 2006 album 'Skyshaper'. A clever move to get things going from the start, although at least some parts of the crowd remained surprisingly diffident. 'Prime Movers' from the new album followed and tended itself to be a future crowd pleaser before COVENANT dug deeper into their back catalogue.


After the fulminant Pop of 'Bullet' COVENANT went back to the classic EBM days of their debut 'Dreams Of The Cryotank' with the songs 'Voices' and 'Edge Of Dawn. The slightly reworked tracks sounded vital and fierce, even much more so than at the special show for the re-release of the debut album last year. Quite a treat for any long-time COVENANT fan but again it was startling that the feedback from the crowd was a bit mediocre. Perhaps many weren't familiar with the very old stuff of the band but indeed it seemed that at least some parts of the audience were just waiting for the popular Future Pop hits. COVENANT were willing to give them what they want but people also had to eat the other aspects that make COVENANT besides dancy club hits.


For those with an open mind COVENANT have a lot to offer, and this was also true for the Duisburg gig. From Synth Pop to Drum 'n' Bass elements to Techno and back, from the cold beats of 'I Am' to the hot Funk grooves of the amazing 'Get On', KRAFTWERK references and even hinted obeisance to the classical music of Schubert or Bach as well as some classic EBM overtones a la early FRONT 242. The variety of COVENANT is profound and yet it always sounds like 100 % COVENANT. The intimate 'I Walk Slow' even had a whiff of RADIOHEAD with its (sampled) guitars and rather experimental approach. The band also always offer updated versions of old songs at their live shows, and this performance was no different. There's a lot to discover for those with an ear for details, and the new member Andreas Catjar indeed makes a difference with his knob fiddling and adding atmospheric sounds.


Former member Daniel Myer (HAUJOBB) left his individual mark on the band's sound, and so does Catjar. Basically, COVENANT do not just rely on a playback, as certain other bands from their genre, they love to improvise (hence one track in their set is simply called “improvisation”; see below) and it's always quite evident what and how many parts are actually performed live. More parts than most other electronic bands, I dare to say! COVENANT like to challenge themselves, and this comprises also the potential to fail. When they performed 'The Beauty And The Grace', probably one of their most beautiful and epic songs, a few things seemed to get a bit awry and the band members seemed a little confused for a second. In the end this moment of vulnerability just added to the intimacy of the song and showed the human side in the midst of all the machine sounds.


Singer Eskil Simonsson is famous for his signature voice and his stage enigma, and in Duisburg he was equally focussed and enthusiastic. That his enthusiasm sometimes did not translate entirely to all of the crowd did not hold him off, COVENANT were ready to bring the house down and with the closing trio of 'Stalker', the new single 'Last Dance' and the anthemic 'Call the Ships To Port' the ice broke for good, finally. COVENANT have never been a band who's stingy with giving encores, and so Duisburg got a total of five more songs including a new version of 'Happy Man' wonderfully leading over to 'Lightbringer' with Daniel Jonasson doing the lead vocals, and the vintage 'Figurehead' ending the night.


In an odd way this performance gave evidence why COVENANT have never made it as big as they should have to all intents and purposes, why they never climbed the Olympus of Pop and entered high chart positions – they are simply too good! VNV NATION, once their peers with whom COVENANT were filed under “Future Pop” about ten years ago, are at least in Germany a Top 40 chart act for quite some time now and headline big open air festivals. COVENANT are without any doubt one of the biggest bands of their scene but sadly made not too much impact outside this scene. Quite a shame, as COVENANT have all the potential to make it big! But they don't make it easy neither for themselves nor for their audiences, and at the end of the day this is one of the many great things about them! / /


01. Intro: Leaving Babylon II
02. Intro: Babylon Dawn
03. Leaving Babylon
04. Ritual Noise
05. Prime Movers
06. Bullet
07. Voices
08. Edge Of Dawn
09. I Walk Slow
10. The Beauty & The Grace
11. I Am
12. 20Hz
13. Get On
14. Thy Kingdom Come
15. Ignorance & Bliss
16. - improvisation -
17. Stalker
18. Last Dance
19. Call the Ships To Port
20. Happy Man
21. Lightbringer
22. We Stand Alone
23. Der Leiermann
24. Figurehead
(thanks to Eskil Simonsson for sending the setlist)

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 9
Total: 9 / 10


All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / /

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