15th to 18th August 2019
W-Festival 2019 Day 2 with Ultranoire, Toyah, Allez Allez, Kosheen (Live PA set), Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Tony Hadley, True Zebra, Inertia, Mlada Fronta, The Breath Of Life, Lebanon Hanover, Siglo XX, VNV Nation, Blaine L. Reininger plays Tuxedomoon, Vile Electrodes
Like every day, also this festival day started for us early at 11:30 with a press meeting, coffee, dark chocolate and nice chats. Good to have a relaxed start into the long day… it would be busy and exhausting enough. Friday started with TRUE ZEBRA on the Wave Cave, where VNV NATION late at night closed the day. We already knew in the morning that the day would be exhausting with so many great band. But how to fit such a great program into four days?
The day on the Synth Scene started with ULTRANOIRE who define their music as “electro-noire”. The two members, Josef Stapel (singer/ songwriter, composer) and Szilard Kun (keyboardist), remain inspired by many other musical styles and artists and like to include other styles, unique sound samples and textures. An interesting mix to start into the day, although just two people on the big stage looked a bit lost. TOYAH, who was next on the stage, is one of Britain’s iconic household names, an award-winning Rock legend as well as a much-loved stage/ screen actress and music composer. She always walks her own way for over 40 years now and is welcomed very well by the audience. It was amazing to see the aged lady in her red glitter dress acting on stage like a youngster. She was very active and smiled and moved a lot. Her voice was still crystal clear. Really impressive! The audience was excited!
ALLEZ ALLEZ was a successful but short lived Belgian Funk band with African influences founded in 1981 and disbanded in 1985. They subsequently reformed in 2017 with a line-up change for several concerts. The group had local hits with ‘She’s Stirring Up’, ‘Allez Allez’ and ‘African Queen’, the latter a tribute to Grace Jones. Of course, the W-Fest audience got to hear all those songs. ALLEZ ALLEZ’ mini-album ‘African Queen’ earned them an appearance at the Torhout-Werchter festival in 1982. To see them today on the stage was a big pleasure and they did a great performance. Following band KOSHEEN, who were guests on previous W-Fest editions already, were announced with a “Live PA Set” and we wondered what the show would be like. In fact ist was singer Sian Evans supported by a lady on the machines. Not only were we surprised, that we knew so many songs. The Drum’n’Bass tagged KOSHEEN moulds something sophisticated and complex, and their hypnotic break-beats took their native U.K. by storm at the close of the 90s and they did the same today.
NIK KERSHAW is maybe a little bit hyped and many attendees of W-Fest eagerly awaited his show. The English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer came to prominence in the mid-1980s as a solo artist, releasing eight singles that entered the Top 40 charts in the UK during the 1980s. He did a great job back in the eighties but his performance was a little bit lazy. On the other hand you have to know that his songs are live as powerful as ever. Even though he could not fully convince today, songs like the famous ‘The Riddle’, ‘Wouldn’t it be good’ or ‘The one and only’ made people dance and sing along. Following HOWARD JONES has nearly the same success story as NIK KERSHAW but he did it with his own style in the way of mid-80s Synth Pop. He had ten top 40 hit singles in the UK between 1983 and 1986, including six which reached the top ten, and his 1984 album ‘Human’s Lib’ went to number one. Around the world, he had 15 top 40 hit singles between 1983 and 1992. His songs also have not lost its power. Especially the fantastic evergreen ‘What is love’ was a highlight.
And last but not least we had TONY HADLEY from SPANDAU BALLET on stage. You may notice that we have a great collection of 80s stars on stage today. Many people could recognize their youth. English singer-songwriter Anthony Hadley, occasional stage actor and radio presenter, rose to fame in the 1980s as the lead singer of the New Wave band SPANDAU BALLET before launching a solo career following the group’s split in 1990. Hadley is recognisable for his suave image, as well as his powerful blue-eyed soul voice. And he did great on the day! His voice was amazing and he was constantly smiling or interacting with his band. Besides his own songs, he of course presented several SPANDAU BALLET gems. My personal highlight was ‘Gold’ at the very end of the set. Amazing! Like so many others in the hall, I had kind of time travel into my youth.
The Wave Cave program started with - for us - one of the best appearances of the day! TRUE ZEBRA is Belgian sound & vision wizard Kevin Strauwen (you might know him from THE JUGGERNAUTS as well). And he really did a fantastic job. For me beside the concert of NITZER EBB the best performance on the festival. Powerful as fuck! Amazing music, great visuals! Next up was INERTIA, a solo project by Reza Udhin which brought together elements of Industrial and Techno to form something quite different to anything in the scene. Really interesting to listen to. One-man project MLADA FRONTA brought a variety of sounds to industrial electronics. Described as ranging from a haunting complex atmospheric and sometimes genuinely eerie creation to original techno-ish Powernoise with hard hitting unusual drum beats, MLADA FRONTA creates beats and ambience that are irresistible to dance to and beautiful to hear. Since there was only one man behind his desk on stage it was great that the show was supported by visuals on the screen behind.
From electronic music to Wave. THE BREATH OF LIFE started in the eighties when a trio of musicians were joined by a young female singer. With the release of the second studio album, ‘Taste of sorrow’ in 1994, the Belgian band developed a unique sound complemented by, what the press described, as the “magical voice” of Isabelle Dekeyser. In 2017, THE BREATH OF LIFE proudly released their ninth album ‘Under The Falling Stars’. The band entices the listener back into their own speciﬁc realm of emotions with their unique sound. With LEBANON HANOVER, now a fantastic ice cold Post-Punk duo followed which fascinated by the beauty of art nouveau aesthetics. Every time I see them I am totally in love with the sound and so I was at W-Fest. With SIGLO XX and their 80s New Wave style which is described as Cold Wave, a Belgium band followed now. The band shows, as they admit themselves, a strong influence from JOY DIVISION. The songs are gloomy and dark and evoke a sense of distance and coldness.
Back from several Wave bands now to the electronic headliner VNV NATION. RONAN HARRIS and his guys did a live show with energy and positive emotion. It was very late, but great to see. VNV NATION’s sound blends poetic and thought provoking lyrics with a sound that ranges from melodic dance beats and Indie-electronic anthems, to haunting ballads and post-classical soundtrack pieces. The live show once again presented lots of energy and positive emotions, drawing a devoted fan base from across the musical spectrums. Different to the M’era Luna, there were no huge LED walls, but still the light engineer Martin did a great job to set the stage into the perfect light. The danceable and catchy songs made people move and sing along. End despite the really late hour, there were still lots of people enjoying the show. VNV NATION always understand to excite their audience!
The Olivier Daout Stage
Today, there was only a small program on the outdoor stage. BLAINE L. REININGER tried it again but for me his show did simply not work on this festival. VILE ELECTRODES on the other side did something absolutely lovely on stage. Their synths are dark, and bleak, but are often combined with insistent machinegun rhythms and spikey bass lines, with layered, plaintive vocals that tell Ballardian tales of loss of both love and humanity. They could really convince me with their appearance, no matter if they had some technical issues. A very sympathetic duo! You should check them out if you are into electronic music!
It was very late when we left the festival ground after VNV NATION. We saw great bands, some even new to us. It is always good to experience something new. And we learned that it is good to be very early at the venue because sometimes the first ones are the best!
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)