2nd March 2019
Covenant - “Fieldworks Tour 2019” - Special Guest: Empathy Test, Grabyourface
The 2nd of March was the date that was marked in my calendar as the one when I’d finally see the triumphant return of COVENANT to stage. The “Fieldworks Tour” 2019 that started back on 7th of February in Berlin finally got to its grand finale in Leipzig. The supporting bands for COVENANT were the Brits of EMPATHY TEST and - for the first time (technically - second - after Jena show) - GRABYOURFACE.
It was a celebration understood in many ways - not only was it a real feast of fantastic music and atmosphere but also a joyous champagne drinking to mark the entire tour as a great success. The crowd that came that night to der Anker was enthusiastic enough to fill the air with the aura of excitement and energy one may experience only at the very best events of the kind. I think the artist met the high expectations and left the audience recharged, happy and invigorated.
The project to open the night was the one-person project GRABYOURFACE. It came into being in February 2017. Inspired by NINE INCH NAILS, GARY NUMAN or MARILYN MANSON, Marie Lando creates music that is an original combination of Industrial and Electronics. So far she has released two Eps, ‘Philophobia’ and ‘Illnesses’, and her most recent album, ‘Keep me Closer’, was out in 2018. https://www.facebook.com/grabyourface / https://grabyourface.bandcamp.com
Music & Performance
GRABYOURFACE played as a support for COVENANT during two last shows of the Fieldworks tour - in Jena and in Leipzig. It’s hard to say which emotions prevailed during the performance - was it anger, despair, strength, courage, frustration, fear or confidence? Cause it was a truly emotionally-loaded show. Marie Lando appeared on stage and my first impression was of a filigree, short-haired woman, wearing outfit being a combination of sport and flirty, brave and yet hidden behind huge sunglasses, standing right in the centre of the stage filled with keyboards, instruments and other props, totally alone. Somehow the image grabbed my attention.
The music and vocal were extremely powerful, so was the scenic manner of the artist - perhaps it was not a hard core soul-baring on the stage, but it was definitely an intimate, intensive spectacle - a monologue, a manifesto, a message sent straight to the audience, a personal story told from the artist’s perspective. At times it got aggressive, appealing mode to switch to a broken, bitter line the very next moment. Rich in tones and in-depth quality the performance moved me. Reciting, screaming and chanting plus atmospheric music stood for a really captivating performance and I can only hope I appreciated it enough and benefited from the thoughts and emotions the artist wanted to share by means of her music and lyrics.
Total: 8 / 10
The London-based band was formed in 2013, they have several EPs and two albums (‘Safe from Harm’ and ‘Losing Touch’ both of 2017) on their account. Their most recent production, ‘Holy Rivers / Incubation Song’, was out in 2018. Isaac Howlett, Christina Lopez and Samuel Winter-Quick (Adam Relf who is a composer for the band does not take part in live shows) are extremely active when it comes to playing concerts; so far they supported such giants as AESTHETIC PERFECTION, MESH, DE/VISION or VNV NATION. All the elements - their music, active promotion and intensity of tour life seem to work just fine for them as their visibility and popularity have really skyrocketed during the past years and made them one of the most recognized projects within the scene. https://empathy-test.bandcamp.com / https://www.facebook.com/empathytest
Music & Performance
I must say I’d been looking forward to see what EMPATHY TEST are really made of. I got interested in the band in the first place because I got intrigued by reading and hearing opinions about them. The voices were so contradictory and heated that I simply had to check the project that evoked such extreme reactions. After an interesting interview we did for Reflections of Darkness back in December 2018, I was actually curious how it all works in practice… especially that Isaac Howlett emphasized that the music and live shows were something he was born to do. So I attended the concert in Leipzig as they supported COVENANT and I must say that self-confidence and trust the artists take in their talent are not unfounded at all.
From the very first moment of the show it was clear they know exactly what they were doing - be it for the experience they gained during the past shows or the overall scenic self-reliance - it was a display of fantastic scenic control, charisma and performance perfection. They established a fantastic contact with the audience and managed to keep the fans’ attention till the very end of the show. The performance was very smooth on the one hand and extremely emotional on the other: one can say Isaac Howlett is a true leader for the band indeed – it’s visible the stage is his element. His rich, emotional manner on the one hand and witty, funny comments on the other make him a perfect front man to both entertain and move the audience emotionally. Naturally the focus is on him and he uses it well - the combination of melodious quality of such songs as ‘Holy Rivers’, ‘Losing Touch’, ‘Bare my Soul’ or ‘Safe From Harm’ and warm, gentle vocalic quality are by all means enhanced by the vocalist’s expressive, intensive scenic manner and general confidence in impacting the audience’s emotions.
After the show was over Eskil Simonsson appeared on the stage with the bottle of champagne and some glasses to celebrate the grand finale for the tour. He congratulated the artists who supported COVENANT during the tour (both EMPATHY TEST and Marie Lando of GRABYOURFACE) and greeted the audience as well.
01. Holy Rivers
02. Incubation Song
03. Bare My Soul
04. Everything Will Work Out
05. Seeing Stars (live extended version)
06. Vampire Town
08. Losing Touch
09. Safe From Harm
Total: 8.8 / 10
It’s hard to believe but the last time I saw COVENANT was 10 years ago which is far too long a break. During that time the band transformed not only in terms of musical content, inspirations and overall approach but also their line-up. The current one is Eskil Simonsson, Joakim Montelius (who actually rarely, if at all, takes part in live shows now), Andreas Catjar, Daniel Myer and Daniel Jonasson. One thing remains the same though - they still create incredibly good music and make the audiences that come to their shows react enthusiastically. It seems their unique spark is still igniting the fire of their sounds. The band was formed in 1986 and their first album, ‘The Dreams of Cryotank’, was released in 1994. ‘Sequencer’ that was out two years later made them one of the most important bands within Electro / EBM scene. The subsequent albums only made their position stronger; the most recent one, ‘The Blinding Dark’ of 2016, and the EP ‘Fieldworks’(2019) - available only during the shows - only confirm the brand and quality the artists got us used to. The current tour the band just completed in Leipzig was a triumphant march via most important German cities and it gave the fans a chance to see their faves after two-years of silence. http://www.covenant.se / https://www.facebook.com/Covenant-OFFICIAL-156626197713557
Music & Performance
The show started as all the other ones during the tour - with the recording ‘Intro’ Daniel Jonasson and Andreas Catjar played in almost complete darkness. When Eskil Simonsson appeared on the stage the applauding scream of the audience became deafening. A warm welcome, indeed, hello Sirs, we missed you, what took you so long? I’m not sure how the others felt (even though I could hear the enthusiastic screams) but for me it was an amazing experience to hear such songs as ‘Like Tears in Rain’, ‘Bullet’, ‘We Stand Alone’ or ‘20HZ’ live again after such a long time. I believe COVENANT is one of those projects that have a special place in many peoples heart’s - they have been active for so long and actually formed the stage so consequently their music is as if an innate part of the musical experience and history for many people. It’s definitely so in my case - a bit like return home. The choice of songs for the night was a way through the best of COVENANT albums - the energy and charisma of the artists, music quality, dynamism and invigorating spark they ignite in their listeners were the best elements for the show.
It’s hard not to mention the elaborate light spectacle - changing colours and intensity, beautifully framed gave a bit cosmic and bit ephemeral, magical mood to the show. Together with lit fans that stood on both sides of the stage, all the props built up an industrial background for the music to play the main part. The highlight of the show was the performance of ‘False Gods’ - the first time sang by Eskil alone and then by Marie Lando of GRABYOURFACE with Eskil’s accompaniment on drums. It’s an intensive, industrial piece that actually strikes really strongly and recharges all batteries. It’s sometimes performed by Marie Lund and at times by Daniel Myer (who was absent in Leipzig due to Audiotrauma Festival participation) and I believe it has a fantastic, harsh tint to it. I think the whole message - also of the lyrics of the song - sum up pretty well what Eskil wanted to say to the audience during the show - to identify what disturbs and distracts the mind and to get rid of it. I guess COVENANT has never been just about the music and sound - their philosophy and thoughts included in the lyrics always carry ideas that transfer some general message to the listeners.
Methinks the leading one in Leipzig was about living here and now without being distracted by technology, media and the surrounding chaos and perhaps a bit about being real and present - with mind, senses and attention being conscious and coherent. All in all the COVENANT concert was a blast - invigorating, fantastic music, the light show, great contact with the audience and energy - all the elements stood for a fantastic, perfectly prepared performance. Hoping for more to come very soon!
Total: 9.5 / 10
All Pictures by Karo Kratochwil