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introChristuskirche, Bochum, Germany
22nd November 2017

LAIBACH and Nietzsche… that seems to be such a natural pairing, as hardly any reviewer forgot to point out. The Slovenian collective and musical division of NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst) has now brought their soundtrack for the theatre play ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ on the road, which seems to be quite a challenging task. LAIBACH of course mastered it and brought one of the visually most impressive shows to the Christuskirche in Bochum, Germany.


With ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ LAIBACH have, in a way, returned to their doomy and quite experimental sound of the early days, when they combined brooding, droning Industrial with neo-classical elements on albums like ‘Krst pod Triglavom’ and ‘Nova Akropola’. This was before they released more Rock-oriented (in relative terms) material like ‘Opus Dei’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ or the symphonic, Wagner-influenced Techno/ EBM of ‘NATO’ and ‘WAT’. With their 2014 album ‘Spectre’, LAIBACH dived into Pop realms as they have hardly ever done before, an intriguingly accessible record with turbulent Synth Pop, marching Electro rhythms combined with the typical LAIBACH bombast, and an album which gave Mina Špiler a more decisive role than ever before. Starting as a mere live keyboarder and occasional backing singer during the “Volk” tour in 2006, she played a bigger and bigger role in the LAIBACH universe, both live and on record, and she has been an integral and widely accepted part of the art collective for a long time, already.


She’s the perfect addition to the line-up, not only because she has an awesome voice but also as she is a most welcome juxtaposition to the primarily very testosterone-driven, martial, militaristic and all-male LAIBACH of the past. ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ was originally composed by LAIBACH as the soundtrack for the theatre adaptation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical novel by director Matjaž Berger. While the quality of the album release is undeniable, it still had a little bit the feel of an intermediate release, similar to ‘MacBeth’, another soundtrack to a theatre play released in 1990. So it came to some extent as a surprise that LAIBACH would actually tour this album, and I wondered how the fragments from the theatre play - the actors and parts without music would obviously be missing - would work out as stand-alone performance. /


Music & Performance
I shouldn’t have had doubts in LAIBACH, even if they were only minor concerns, because OF COURSE the Slovenian avant-gardists delivered and put on a mind-blowing show! Of course, given the more vanguard, avant-garde nature of the presented material, you have to be willing to engage with the complex, relatively low-key music. Those who probably came to hear the EMB stompers and classics such as ‘Tanz mit Laibach’ or ‘Geburt einer Nation’ were in for a surprise, surely! The first hour of the show featured exclusively tracks from the ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ album, which was performed almost in its entirety. The sinister, menacing nature of the music was pretty captivating, and the songs from the album gained a new level of poignancy and forcefulness in their live renditions. For LAIBACH’s terms, ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ is rather minimalistic, with some silent moments and enough space to breath for the tracks, but this compositional minimalism was in contrast to an incredibly opulent visual side.


Last time LAIBACH performed at the Christuskirche Bochum - almost one year ago to the day with their ‘Sound Of Music’ programme - they set aside the use of video screens and simply projected the visuals onto the nave of the Christuskirche. As it turned out this was not the wisest decision, at least in my book, as some of the footage looked too bright and the constantly visible grids of the brick wall were a little irritating. This time LAIBACH took another approach, and oh boy, what a stunning imagery it was! With the clever use of several projectors and state-of-the-art video mapping, the attendees were literally flooded with light and moving images! There was a rectangular screen behind the band, some projections at the sides of the stage and some on the flanks of the building. Even the ceiling of the church’s nave was used for projections at times, which was particularly impressive!


During the first 45 it was solely long-time member Milan Fras who took over lead vocal duties with his deep, gargling voice but then finally Mina Špiler entered the scene with a beautiful rendition of ‘Vor Sonnen-Aufgang’. It was as if Milan Fras took over the sinister “night part” and then finally Mina Špiler delivered they “day part”, which was also reflected in the brighter, yellow lights of the light show. But what appeared behind her on the screen was not a sunrise but slo-mo footage of a nuclear explosion...


After the material from ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, LAIBACH continued with two unreleased songs, ‘Parnassus’ and the Henry Purcell cover ‘Cold Song’, followed by reworked versions of very early LAIBACH tracks such as ‘Brat Moj’ and ‘Ti, ki izzivaš’, which soon will be finally be released in the long-awaited ‘Laibach Revisited’ box. Some ‘WAT’ songs did also make the cut in a selection that was as far from a “best of” as you could image. But they suited the overall theme of the show perfectly and with a rare live performance of the 1992 song ‘Wirtschaft ist tot’ LAIBACH finished their main set. The band came back for the two ‘Spectre’ era songs ‘Bossanova’ and ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’, and enthused audience certainly would have loved a few more songs. But the classical music from tape and the bright hall lights made clear that it was all over now.


Visually it was for me the best show in years - and this includes arena acts with a certainly bigger production than LAIBACH’s - and musically it was a deep and complex ride which I thoroughly enjoyed. LAIBACH absolutely managed to make ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ work outside its original theatre context. However, I would love to see LAIBACH to unleash their more aggressive, impellent and more straight-forward side again next time. I’m not trying to say that they should something like ‘WAT’, ‘Spectre’ or ‘NATO’ again, but after ‘Sound Of Music’ and ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ we need something fresh and more in-your-face. After all, it would only underline the dichotomy of LAIBACH.


01. Von den drei Verwandlungen
02. Ein Untergang
03. Ein Verkündiger
04. Von Gipfel zu Gipfel
05. Das Glück
06. Die Unschuld II
07. Das Nachtlied II
08. Das Nachtlied I
09. Als Geist
10. Vor Sonnen-Aufgang
11. Parnassus
12. Cold Song
13. Anti-Semitism
14. Brat Moj
15. Hell: Symmetry
16. Le Privilege Des Morts
17. Ti, ki izzivaš
18. Wirtschaft ist tot
19. Bossanova
20. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9.8 / 10


All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( /

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