16th - 18th July 2010
Gothic Festival 2010 Day 3: VNV Nation, Faith And The Muse, Alien Sex Fiend, Spectra*Paris, Unheilig, The Eden House, Rabia Sorda, Bettina Köster, Star Industry, The Exploding Boy, Vic Anselmo, Erato
Well, the last day of this extraordinary festival had already come. Surprise of the day personally was THE EXPLODING BOY from Sweden with their catchy Indie Pop based on bass lines sticking in your head for a long time. Finally, VNV NATION took care for a big party at the end of the day.
Erato (Club Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
Around 1993, a band named OBSCURE ILLUSION existed that soon opted for a new name with ERATO. A few years after the band’s inception they’re picked out of 85 other bands to record the song ‘Sweet Killing’ in a professional studio, followed by the release of ‘A Killed God’ the same year. The band through the years has done prolific live work, gaining them a high reputation in that department and a second demo was released, titled ‘The Irreplaceable One’. ERATO is Gorik (vocals), Jacques (guitars and backings), Joost (guitars), Johan (keyboards), Patte (bass) and Tim (drums). http://erato.cc/ / http://www.myspace.com/eratocc
Music & Performance
One thing I love about the Gothic Festival in Waregem is that the promoters still have a heart for classic Gothic Rock. With a 17-year career behind them it is a bit odd that ERATO had the ungrateful duty to be the opening act of the third day of the festival. But then they had a few years of silence after their original singer left the band and are about to build up a high profile name now after the release of the album ‘Naïve’ last year, the first in seven years by the way. Some of the studio works of ERATO sound a bit low-fi because of their demo character but live it sounds much fuller and vivid, and their Dark Rock comes to a whole new life. ERATO do not offer a new sound, they are clearly influenced by American Death Rock, British Batcave and significantly by THE SISTERS OF MERCY. But there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s great that there are still bands that wave the flag of Gothic Rock. And in Waregem, ERATO made sure that the third day of the festival started nicely with a quite enjoyable performance. Hope to see them more often on the bills of festivals like this one!
01. Act like Moses
02. Let Me In
03. Dead by Dawn
04. Waiting for Khan
05. Anya Always
06. Nice Talking
07. Mighty & Death
Total: 7.9 / 10
Vic Anselmo (Main Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
The young singer/songwriter from Latvia came in contact with music at an early age. With ten she attended music school to learn piano and later she taught herself how to play guitar. In her teens she formed a live band and gathered lots of live experiences. She was already on stage with big names like Mick Moss (ANTIMATTER) or TITO & TARANTULA. In 2006, she released her first demo CD ‘Beverly’ and in autumn 2008, her debut album ‘Trapped in a Dream’. VIC ANSELMO live is Vic Anselmo (singer, songwriter, acoustic guitar), Herman Rigmant (guitars, programming), George Kadolchik (keyboards), Peteris Pass (bass) and Martinsh Milevskis (drums, percussions). http://www.vicanselmo.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/vicanselmomusic
Music & Performance
The image of a delicate woman with an acoustic guitar was still in my mind when heading to the main stage, where VIC ANSELMO would soon be performing. I’ve seen her like that in 2008, supporting WAYNE HUSSEY and actually I was expecting to get a similar performance. How wrong I was, I could see soon after a strangely dressed band had taken the stage. For example the keyboard player looked like an ancient sorcerer, and Vic herself was standing out with a very colourful dress. Well, the difference to the show I witnessed in the past was that it now looked much more like someone’s taken great inspiration from EMILIE AUTUMN and the performance really was as eccentric with her screaming at times like a broken person, begging for help; other times as lovely as a child. A bit odd was her cover version of ‘Das Dunkle Land’ by DAS ICH. Odd in the way that I didn’t expect it from her!
The childish part came with her disappearing for a short while and returning with a teddy bear, innocently smiling to perform ‘Beverly’. Also here there was this shadowy veil hovering above everything. I admit she was catching me off-guard with that kind of show. Nevertheless, there was something fascinating to it, even though it’s a bit too much EMILIE AUTUMN for me.
01. Open wide
03. Das Dunkle Land (Das Ich cover version)
04. The flight
05. Before I could breathe
07. Bus stop
08. Deadman walks
09. More than you can comprehend
Total: 7 / 10
The Exploding Boy (Club Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
History of THE EXPLODING BOY starts in January 2006. When Swedish artist Sophie Rimheden heard the first demo recording she offered to produce upcoming material. Since the demand for a live presentation grew considerably, the band started expanding their line-up and eventually debuted live in May of their foundation year. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2007, being followed by an extensive tour. In September of the same year, the single ’40 Days’, which got very good critics beforehand, was released! Spring 2009 saw the pack embarking on a German tour and in May the new album ‘Afterglow’ came out. THE EXPLODING BOY is Johan (vocals, acoustic guitar), Les (lead guitar), Stefan (vocals, guitar) and Nick (keyboards, programming). http://www.myspace.com/theexplodingboyse
Music & Performance
I heard only good things about the Swedes prior to their show at the Gothic Festival. All this premature praise of course woke my interest and I was awaiting their show with baited breath. The guys kicked it off with ‘I Am Truth ‘ , a non-album track released on a German compilation and I would lie if I say that song, regardless of its sublime melancholy ,wouldn’t tease you until you finally move something, and the very sympathetic performance of that song just added to the good impression given. With the upbeat ’40 Days’ following right up you could catch anything from tapping feet to fully moving bodies around you. That bass line by the ghost bass player I think was what had this effect on people, actually. Seriously, why does a band with such prominent bass lines not have a bass player on stage? Maybe it’s the old “money” problem.
By the time, the bass hums of ‘It’s Over’ were floating over, the guys had already won over many people in the crowd who had as much fun as they seemed to have and barring the lack of a real bass player, I couldn’t really find any flaw within the show that had an unashamedly catchy tune like ‘Heart of Glass’ or the retro rocker ‘Desperados’ as its closer. I’m sincerely wondering how it can be not more people are familiar with those guys. Well, a few are now and I’m sure there’ll be more.
01. I Am Truth
02. 40 Days
03. Shot Down
04. It’s Over
06. Better Then Fine
07. The Right Spot
08. Heart of Glass
Total: 7 / 10
Star Industry (Main Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
This Belgian Goth-Rock outfit was born some time in 1996. The following year, they already entered the studio to produce what would become the first album ‘Iron Dust Crush’ for which they gained a lot of positive reception from the European press, which resulted in their first festival gig in Germany, Belgium and the UK. In summer 1999, the band released the ‘New Millennium EP’ on the Belgian Euro Rock festival in 2001; the next full-length album ‘Velvet’ followed and caused a burst of popularity for the band, enabling them to play even bigger festivals. Their most recent release, following 2007’s ‘Last Crusades’ album, is called ‘Black Angel White Devil’ and is a live album that’s connecting the band’s past with the present. STAR INDUSTRY is Peter Beckers (vocals, guitar), Xavier "Psyche" Vranken (backing vocals, lead guitar), Stijn "Stign" Kuijpers (bass), Kurt Lantin (drums) and Peter "Utz" Gerits (synths, samples). http://www.starindustry.be/ / http://www.myspace.com/starindustrymusic
Music & Performance
Three years ago it was the first time that I saw STAR INDUSTRY live. It was the Gothic Festival 2007, and it was nice to see them again at the very same place in 2010. I’m not sure if my memory plays tricks on me but I seem to remember the Belgian Goth rockers sounding much more electronic than they actually did this time around. At the Gothic Festival 2010, they absolutely rocked! No over-ambitious, high-flying performance, just a pretty straightforward and down-to-earth gig which spelled “p a r t y”. The audience was more than receptive for this and had a big celebration with STAR INDUSTRY, who not only played their own smashers like ‘Ceremonial’ or ‘Pray’ but also a cover version of MGMT’s ‘Kids’. STAR INDUSTRY love to do covers of their favourite songs, but this radio hit seemed to be an odd choice. I like the track a lot, and I have to say that STAR INDUSTRY’s take on it was really superb! They added a pressing Rock touch to the dance track and live it raised the party level even a bit more.
The show was finished with the double pack of the energetic ‘Lost Generation’ and the classic ‘Nineties’, and all I can say that STAR INDUSTRY’s gig was fun and quite powerful. They are obviously a band which feels very much home on a stage!
01. Be Real
02. Spirits Within
05. City of Light
07. Lost Generation
Total: 8.3 / 10
Bettina Köster (Club Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
BETTINA KÖSTER is a former member of the well-known German formation MALARIA!, firing out hits like ‘Your Turn To Run’, or more prominently ‘Kaltes Klares Wasser’. The band broke up in 1986 and tried a reunion in 1992. Ever since 2007, when the last project AUTONERVOUS came to an end, she’s walking on solo paths. Her solo album ‘Queen Of Noise’ was published in October 2009. http://www.myspace.com/bettinakoster
Music & Performance
Someone said during BETTINA KÖSTER’s gig “she’s like a grandma gone wild”. Well, that’s a bit dismissive but let’s be honest, not too far away from the truth! KÖSTER was perhaps the oldest performer on the stages of the Gothic Festival 2010 but this also means that she has quite some legacy as an artist and performer! I didn’t know what to expect before her show as I wasn’t familiar with KÖSTER’s more recent material but I surely hoped to hear some of the classics from her early career with MALARIA.
The setup of the show was pretty simple with drummer Ines Perschy in the back and KÖSTER at the front and most of the music was computerized. BETTINA KÖSTER looked like a business woman with her suit and walked around the stage all the time, even danced a little now and then and didn’t stop to show her biggest smile. This didn’t stop her from bitching at her drummer, forgetting that the audience could hear it all through the microphone in her hand. Well, she seemed to be a bit disoriented at times and acted like a diva. She changed the setlist a few times during(!) the show and interrupted songs, but when she turned to the crowd she always showed her big smile. I assume that KÖSTER indeed enjoyed her performance. And I enjoyed it too, despite or precisely because of the slightly weird stage presence. A lady with such a huge legacy in art and avant-garde perhaps has to be this way. And we got to hear the MALARIA classics ‘Your Turn to Run’ and ‘Kaltes Klares Wasser’ in the end, so I was a happy bunny anyway.
Total: 6.9 / 10
Rabia Sorda (Main Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
RABIA SORDA is a solo project of Erk Arcraig, front man of HOCICO. It was founded in 2003 and the first album the project had under its belt was: ‘Methods del Coos’ that was released in November 2006 followed by the single ‘Save me from my curse’. The following time would be occupied again by works for the revived beast HOCICO, before first preparations could be started for the RABIA SORDA sophomore ‘Noise Diary’, eventually released to the public in September 2009. On stage, Erik is supported by a keyboarder and a drummer. http://www.rabiasorda.com/ / www.myspace.com/rabiasorda
Music & Performance
RABIA SORDA has always been very different from Erk’s main project HOCICO, most notably sound-wise. With time passing, also the live performance has taken a different turn and left beaten paths, expressed very prominently with a drum kit having built up on the left additionally to the keyboard player right across. Both were kind of framing Erk, hitting the stage to ‘Save Me from My Curse’. There I realized his arms were covered with a sort of black paint while drummer and keyboard player had also their faces covered with that. The point remained in the shadows, but I was distracted fast anyway by the sheer energy, Erk is always putting into his shows but which comes forward much more with RABIA SORDA. That he uses a live drummer now was definitely a step into the right direction. It accentuates the punky attitude within the songs far better than electronic ones could do for me.
Some shows have a lack of dancing people; shows involving Erk usually have a lack of not dancing people. Shows in Belgium have to be added to the list of countries now as well. Only a minority of the people couldn’t find enough pleasure in it. ‘Get Your Overdose’ and the extremely raw ‘Radio Paranoia’ made perfectly sure they wouldn’t stop. Even melodic tones which I could have sworn years ago Erik would never be able to sing as it would be necessary to sound good came across nicely. Cool development and a cool show.
01. Mexico Today (Intro)
02. Save Me from my Curse
03. Get your Overdose
04. Radio Paranoia
05. What U get is what U See
07. Out of Control
08. Breaking Through
09. Heart Eating Crows
10. Walking on Nails
Total: 7.6 / 10
The Eden House (Club Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
The collaborative project THE EDEN HOUSE surfaced in 2007. ‘Smoke & Mirrors’, their debut album, was released in 2009 and amongst others featured such prominent guests as Monica Richards of FAITH AND THE MUSE. 2009 and 2010 so far have been spent with touring but not without working on something new for their fans, which is ‘The Looking Glass’, including a DVD with a live performance as well as an additional CD with cover versions. http://www.theedenhouse.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/theedenhouseuk
Music & Performance
From THIS BURNING EFFIGY to FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM to ALL ABOUT EVE to VAN MORRISON and many others - it’s astonishing how many musicians from high-profile bands are involved in this project! I didn’t get to hear THE EDEN HOUSE’s album ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ before their show in Waregem, which is a pity really, but the list of collaborators made clear enough that we were to get top quality at THE EDEN HOUSE’s gig at the Gothic Festival. And they didn’t disappoint! The UK-based band created an enchanting atmosphere, a marriage of melancholy and beauty that didn’t sound as old school Goth as you might expect.
Tony Pettitt’s signature bass sound surely reminded on FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and the music had some ‘Sumerland’ moments but there are more ingredients in THE EDEN HOUSE’s music. The most distinct element is probably the use of several female vocals. In Waregem, Ann Christina, Valenteen and Amandine Ferrari shared the vocal duties. Some people might have been disappointed that Monica Richards of FAITH AND THE MUSE didn’t join them on stage as she played the festival with her main band the very same day. On the other hand the three young ladies delivered a fantastic and impressive job, in particular Amandine Ferrari who has a superb voice indeed. Bob Loveday didn’t appear in Waregem as well because of touring duties with BOB GELDOF but THE EDEN HOUSE has an impressive long list of collaborators to pick from, anyway. THE EDEN HOUSE performed almost the entire ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ album plus a nice cover version of BJÖRK’s ‘Play Dead’.
A very nice, melancholic but beautiful and often psychedelic musical journey which was more COCETAU TWINS or THIS MORTAL COIL or even old PINK FLOYD than your standard Gothic Rock.
01. The Dark Half
02. Gods Pride
03. All My Love
04. Trashed Treasure
05. Reach Out
06. Iron in the Soul
07. Fire for You
08. To Believe in Something
10. Play Dead
Total: 9.2 / 10
Unheilig (Main Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
When the project UNHEILIG started over 10 years ago, no one would've guessed in which way it would be turning out in the end. One of the first rack to appear 'Sage Ja' already caused a stir within the dark music scene and following albums such as 'Phosphor', 'Das 2.Gebot' or 'Zelluloid' would make sure the popularity of the project around the mastermind and main protagonist Der Graf was bursting into popularity. The number of fans he won over became endless, just like the queues at one of the famous autograph sessions at festivals. Meanwhile, UNHEILIG has released the newest album 'Große Freiheit' which has broken all records and is the most successful release for UNHEILIG this far, gaining them high chart positions. A new single with the title 'Für Immer' came out in May. Due to constant demand, a live album of the current tour ‘Große Freiheit (Live)’ has been released. http://www.unheilig.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/unheilig
Music & Performance
I’ve been outing myself not being the biggest UNHEILIG fan there is in the past already, but I approached this show as objectively as I could. And also I was wondering if Belgian people would go as crazy as Germans do when seeing UNHEILIG these days. The first impression was the one of a lot of people and not all could be Germans, so there must be some kind of an international reputation as well. Anyway, the stage was decorated with a plethora of big candles on special sockets, framing the stage in the midst of which the known bow of a ship reached out. The typical old music bridged the time until the real show would start and the band one by one would take their positions on stage. However, Der Graf wouldn’t show in person until ‘Seenot’ commenced, literally running in with expressive movements as is his manner, and could rile up several people to get their hands in the air. Now to something my colleague already encountered with UMBRA ET IMAGO and which is indeed disrespectful to non-German speakers. No matter what statement he made it was in German. With all due respect sir. If you’re playing a festival like this one with an international audience, you could at least do some English statements for other people to understand it as well.
That was that and now back to the show, which continued with the atmospheric ‘Spiegelbild’ and the balladry ‘Unter Deiner Flagge’. People were going along to the music but not as much as would’ve happened in Germany. With ‘An Deiner Seite’ the melancholy parts of the people’s souls were approached and for the main actor that song always is like a soul strip. Even if you were not a member of the UNHEILIG lovers club, it didn’t hurt to admit they did their best to deliver a good show for the people, ending with the hit single ‘Geboren um zu Leben’, this time without any children’s choir.
04. Unter Deiner Flagge
06. An Deiner Seite
07. Grosse Freiheit
09. Für Immer
10. Geboren um zu Leben
Total: 6.1 / 10
Spectra*Paris (Club Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
SPECTRA*PARIS is the legal follow-up project to SIDERARCTICA initiated by no one less than KIRLIAN CAMERA vocalist and Angelo Bergamini’s partner in crime Elena Alice Fossi. The debut album of the still young project titled ‘Dead Models Society’ came out initially in late 2007 and was re-issued in early 2008. ‘License To Kill’, the long-awaited follow-up is out since the beginning of July. SPECTRA*PARIS is Elena Alice Fossi (lead & backing vocals, electronics, bass, music, lyrics), Arianna Alfieri (guitars, bass), Alessia Cavalieri (backing vocals, synth) and Cristina Restani (guitars). http://www.myspace.com/spectraparis
Music & Performance
SPECTRA*PARIS were still on my list of bands I wanted to see once, and that moment now had come. I was just a little curious how that show of theirs would be designed. A video projector was installed already, so there would be at least some animations to back-up the songs visually. The nicely dressed ladies soon would appear to start their set with ‘License To Kill’ which is in fact a slightly altered version of the song ‘Murder 23’ released on the debut album ‘Ianus’ of German/Italian project SENSORY GATE. The heavy bass vibrations however spoiled the fun with the song and those without ear plugs experienced a nice blow I can imagine. Elena switched to a much sexier outfit for the next song ‘A Clockwork London’, a darkly glamorous piece, gaining momentum in the chorus and seeing her dance with a billycock. An artful animation video accompanied ‘Movie Ghouls’ that dwelled on partly experimental rhythms and once again had shine Elena’s voice while the other girls passionately played their instruments.
The spectacle which at times seemed like a film noir enchanted and excited at the same time, so people dancing just as people watching were to be seen. Let’s not argue of some of them looked only at the girls or not, since we all know the answer. ’Death Records’ rocked straight ahead before it was time for a video game mission briefing to announce the next song and to give the ladies time to change. When they returned they were being dressed all in elegant white. Really an eye-turner! The grooving ‘Spectra Murder Show’ made the end of the performance, but before the ladies left they spread some fluid with a few water guns. Well, that was entertaining, had sex appeal and lots of good music. Perfect package!
01. License To Kill
02. A Clockwork London
03. 007 Gold
04. Movie Ghouls
05. Death Records
06. Falsos Suendos
07. Carrie Satan
08. Size Zero
10. Spectra Murder Show
Total: 7.6 / 10
Alien Sex Fiend (Main Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
ALIEN SEX FIEND came to be as the project of Nik and Mrs. Fiend in 1982. Their music first was played to accompany silent movies. Then, in December of the foundation year, they had their first live performance. ‘Who's Been Sleeping In My Brain?’ from 1983 was only the first of a long string of albums in a matchless career that would see the two and a fluctuating number of other musicians extend their popularity to an international scale, at least within the alternative music scene, whilst being mostly unknown to a greater part of the mainstream listeners. 2010 saw them returning to the spotlights with their newest album, called ‘Death Trip’. http://www.asf-13thmoon.demon.co.uk/index.html / http://www.myspace.com/aliensexfiend
Music & Performance
ALIEN SEX FIEND have a reputation for freaky, manic but nevertheless brilliant live shows, so I was looking forward to their gig in Waregem quite a lot. The stage design was complete including huge spider webs and plastic skulls, so everything was on “go”! Nik Fiend was carried on stage on a stretcher and slowly raised from it to sing the famous lyric “I walk the line between good and evil”. A good start, which once more proved ALIEN SEX FIEND’s tongue-in-cheek approach to Horror and Goth clichés! In a way, ALIEN SEX FIEND invented what we call Gothic these days, and at the same time they have been the ironic dig at it from day one. ALIEN SEX FIEND’s music has a trippy and filmic quality but in Waregem they were perhaps a bit too trippy, and that they decided for part a rather slow-paced set for the most part didn’t help it, either. Perhaps that’s just me, but musically the performance lacked energy and focus.
On the other hand you shouldn’t expect something like “focus” at an ASF gig, so perhaps it was a case of wrong (or too high) expectations. Not that the show was bad, visually it was fun (especially watching Nik Fiend throwing plastic skulls into the crowd) and musically it was enough for some happy toe-tapping. The last song of the set was the beat-driven ‘Ignore the Machine’, a burst of energy finally which I truly enjoyed. I just wished the whole show had more of that. A good performance, but I was hoping for a great one.
Total: 8.1 / 10
Faith And The Muse (Club Stage - Sebastian Huhn)
FAITH & THE MUSE inarguably are one of the most diverse bands the common Goth Rock and Dark Wave scene has to offer. Though it would be a bit of a limitation to pigeonhole them into these two genres only! Their influences range far beyond the boundaries other bands wouldn’t dare to cross. Folkloristic, electronic, even neo-classic elements have found their place in this sound cosmos, FAITH & THE MUSE started cultivating since being brought to life in 1994. With their newest album ‘:ankoku buto:’, released in 2009, 6 years after the last one ‘The Burning Season’; Monica Richards and William Faith once again set the bars high both in musical and visual ways. FAITH AND THE MUSE is Monica Richards (voices, instruments) and William Faith (instruments, voices). http://mercyground.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/faithandthemuse
Music & Performance
I opted for watching the sound check of FAITH AND THE MUSE before the show and thus could already catch a glimpse of the variety of instruments they were going to use aside from guitar, drums etc. like a little arsenal of percussions, violin and cello. This really promised to be a huge event. Several minutes later then, the moment had come and the show began with ‘Bushido’, a powerful percussion instrumental, impressively giving insight into the musicians’ range of stylistics already. The rhythm gained momentum and then it’s Monica Richards, gliding on stage to start the chanting on the monumental ‘She Waits By The Well’ and I really was blown away by this voice that seemed to flood the entire room now, enchanting and mesmerizing. The fiddling grace of the violin introduced the ‘Battle Hymn’. The multi-textured rhythm work on the track was to put it simple awe-inspiring and I could hardly do anything but observing with pure fascination. That would’ve been the perfect opportunity to dance but I just couldn’t. Others around me didn’t have that problem and had themselves swept away by the force.
With a heavily propelling ‘Blessed’, swirled around with scissoring guitars the show continued. A clean Goth rock anthem that broke the spell and made me just move head and feet to the rhythms, joining with the others. For just one moment it became calm during the introduction of ‘Scars Flown Proud’. Then drum whirlwinds created an undertow dragging you deeper and deeper into its gravity field. Next tune was not a native FAITH AND THE MUSE but one from Monica Richards’ solo album ‘InfraWarrior’ and called ‘Into My Own’. Indeed it was an introspective aural journey she took us on, surrounded by delicate string instruments, submerged with thick synthetics and carried by masterful percussion. Any superlatives are very legitimate here I think. Something totally different was up with ‘The Unquiet Grave’, emphasizing the folkloristic aspects of the band’s music and bringing a medieval feeling into the venue. You instinctively felt like having to move, just like the ensemble on stage.
For the rushing ‘Sovereign’, the last song of the set, William and Monica were eventually sharing vocal duties. On the chorus when they were singing together you realized how good their voices actually were harmonizing with each other. The band left under thundering applause and actually I didn’t expect them to come back, even though demand was there. Turns out the band wasn’t expecting it either with Monica saying “How unprecedented. A festival giving us one more song” Unprecedented or not, it was one more song and we enjoyed the last minutes with ‘Sredni Vashtar’ to the fullest. My first time seeing FAITH AND THE MUSE live was my highlight of the day and a perfect closer.
02. She Waits By The Well
03. Battle Hymn
05. Scars Flown Proud
06. Into My Own
07. Caesura/The Trauma Coil
08. The Unquiet Grave
11. Sredni Vashtar
Total: 8.9 / 10
VNV Nation (Main Stage - J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch)
An Irish guy called Ronan Harris created VNV NATION in 1990, releasing two Vinyl albums ‘Body Pulse’ and ‘Strength of Youth’. Initially, the music was a mixture of orchestral and electronic influences. Suffice to say, that it’s become much more than just a compound of these two elements over time. But first things first! The first album ‘Advance & Follow’, a real and usually expensive rarity nowadays, emerged after signing a record deal with German label Discordia in July 1995, but it was 1999’s ‘Empires’ - the third full-length - that became their breakthrough album gaining them widespread commercial success (topping the German DAC charts for seven weeks) which did even increase with the following ‘Future Perfect’ while scaring away some fans who liked the older sound much more. By now VNV NATION has released 8 albums in total with the newest one being the incredibly successful ‘Of Faith, Power & Glory’. VNV NATION live on this show was Ronan Harris (vocals), Mark Jackson (e-drums, keys), Tom Lecszenski ([:SITD:] - keys) and Hans Åkerman (Run Level Zero - keys). http://www.vnvnation.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/vnvnation
Music & Performance
Performing as the very last band of a three-day festival in a muggy venue and starting at 11:40 pm (so that most of the show will be on Monday, strictly speaking) is bound to be a disaster. You would think that most of the festival’s audience is either too tired and exhausted for yet another show or even at home already. But the place was packed and the crowd ready to go from the first second! I was pretty surprised by that but this is VNV NATION after all. And Ronan Harris happily picked up the crowd’s energy and delivered a great performance during which his Irish soul proved his entertainer qualities just once more. Harris knows how to work a crowd, and in-between songs he didn’t skimp on jokes and comedic interludes. Including a mean dig at Dutch football while kicking a balloon back into the audience - where did ally those huge balloons come from, anyway - ok, some from the ASF show when they were thrown into the audience, but the others?
However, VNV NATION delivered a very festival-friendly set with songs from almost all stages of their career with crowd pleasers like ‘Chrome’, ‘Darkangel’ and ‘Honour’ making the whole pace erupt. But with ‘Illusion’ there was also a quieter and more thoughtful moment before ‘Standing’ stepped up the pace again. You can say about VNV NATION what you want, you just have to admit that Ronan Harris has a great and entertaining stage presence and the band’s enthusiastic Electro anthems gets anyone going, under any circumstances. Waregem proved that, but that surely wasn’t a first for VNV NATION. Considering all the hardships of the circumstances, this was so much better than I thought it would be. A fantastic end to a long but fantastic festival weekend!
02. Tomorrow Never Comes
08. The Great Divide
10. Honour 2003
Total: 9 / 10
With VNV NATION ending their set, the Gothic Festival 2010 was history already and 3 days of music and fun came to an end with us all heading to our respective residences, some earlier than others, to get some sleep before the departure the next day. This time we figured it’d be cool if all 3 of us would make a closing statement and here they are:
RoD Crew Statements
Since this festival is always special for us, we wanted to share our thoughts with you…
Dani: Somehow it already feels like being part of the big festival family. It was already the fourth time for me attending the festival and over the years, annual Gothic Festival became one of my absolute favourites. First of all because they always manage to create a much diversified line-up combining well-known current bands, old heroes you have missed on stages for a long time and besides that all, rather unknown bands and also such bands you cannot really call “Gothic” just like THE EXPLODING BOY this year. But just this mix makes the festival so extraordinary. You always discover something new. Besides the music, the whole event is rather small with about 2,000 people and I like this much more than overcrowded festivals. A big plus is also that your can really watch EVERY single band in total, if you just want to, because of alternating stage times. People at the festival are there just because of good music and not because the festival is some kind of “fashion show” like so many other scene events. Guests and crew were very kind and helpful, the whole atmosphere was relaxed. And, with the built up gallery, you had also a lot of room to sit down and relax. Definitely, next year’s festival will be my fifth anniversary! So, my big thanks to the organisers and the whole crew!
In my book, the Gothic Festival in Waregem is simply one of Europe’s best festivals of the scene. Simple as that! Always a great line-up which offers old musical loves as well as new discoveries, a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, a pretty international audience, promoters who actually listen to their audience and try to improve the festival from year to year, the most laid-back security guys on planet earth… the list of what is great about this festival is long! My only major complaint is that three days at an indoor venue is a bit too long, but that’s just an old fart complaining that he needs more breaks. ;-) The Gothic Festival is the only festival where I actually see every band that plays there! After the weekend in Waregem I could hardly speak for two days and hardly walk for three days, but I had a happy smile on my face all the time. So my only suggestion for next year would be a wing chair in front of the stage for ole Niggels… but I will be more than happy to come back to Belgium next year, anyway!
Sebastian: It was just the second time for me attending the Gothic Festival but even from last year’s to the current one you could spot that everything was just a little better than before and good things like the gallery recurred; this year enriched with an own bar. The festival staff was friendly as always and here and there you found the time to have a nice chat with one or the other. The festival’s line-up always is something special as you get to see bands here that wouldn’t even get a slot elsewhere. A real shame, considering it’s often those bands blowing you completely away. Thanks for giving them the chance. Last but not least the familiar and relaxed atmosphere of the festival deserves mentioning and makes working there very comfortable and less exhausting. To sum up: Thanks for everything, keep up the great work and see you next time.
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com/ / http://www.black-cat-net.de/ / www.myspace.com/vorndranphotography)
Written by Daniela Vorndran (common parts), J. “Niggels” Uhlenbruch and Sebastian Huhn