Saturday, 7 August 2010

Gig Review: KMFDM @ Manchester Academy 3

So, off to Manchester and one of the trusty Academies. I think I'd like to avoid writing about the support acts, but since I am reliably told that I get increasingly more verbose as the quality of what I am reviewing declines I suppose I had better do so.
First support were Resist, who were basically every mediocre goth band you saw in the late '90s. It really is a struggle to describe them. Like many bands of the period I suppose they just sound like the album 'Night Time' by Killing Joke, only leached of any audible passion and energy. It's the kind of band small local goth nights put on repeatedly because they're mates with the promoter, and exactly the kind of band I am utterly bored of. I am particularly bored of slightly flat and droning female vocals, desperately attempting to reach some kind of deep, dramatic Siouxsie Sioux flair. This is a theme that will repeat in my upcoming Front Line Assembly live review.
And terrible, terrible lyrics. That seems to be a comment I make ad infinitum for goth bands these days, which is relatively jarring when you listen to the masterfully crafted lyrics of the post-punk bands who kicked the genre off. This is what happens when you believe your own stereotyping. Melodrama and poor poetry for the fail.
Anyway, on to the second support who go by the name of AlterRed. Regular readers of my work will know that I loathe pseudo-artistic pretention in live performance, especially when it's done badly. So when I tell you that the 'band' includes a human statue-type performer (complete with faux wind-up key on her back) on one end of the stage and a strange cyberGollum on a leash on the other end, you may be able to guess what I think of this act. This was compounded by the singer doing his level best to convince everyone that he was Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Costume, face paint, awful emulation of 'the laugh' inbetween songs, clumsily worked quotes into lyrics. I want to say two things off the back of this, and I hope to all that's holy I never have to say them again:
1. If your schtick, onstage or off, is entirely stolen from another person's performance (whether it be music, art, acting or otherwise) then your emulation of them can only be reductive. You are saying that the only way you can achieve a performance is by stealing someone else's work. A very fine line can be drawn between homage, impersonation and idiocy, and if you think you may be anywhere nearby you should stop trying immediately.
2. If you feel you require extraneous non-musical elements on stage to enforce your music, what you are saying is that your music is not strong enough. I am not saying that gigs cannot have additional visual components or performers. What I am saying is that they need to be extremely striking, related to the music, integral to subtext or preferably all three. Just throwing a couple of your Drama Studies mates onstage to do their routine is simply betraying a lack of confidence in your own songwriting.
All of this is even more important when your music is industrial rock-tinged coldwave of the most average kind. The most flattering comparison I can make is that they sound like Godhead. Remember them? No. Exactly.
In summary – you are not a crazed carnival of the bizarre, jarring people's perceptions with your dark take on the human spirit. You are a bunch of underachieving rivetheads fronted by a man who thinks the most effective way to communicate his musical vision to the masses is by dressing as the latest iteration of the Clown Prince Of Crime because he was like, cool in that film and stuff? Like with being all psycho and stuff? The pencil bit, yeah? Yeah.
It occurs to me that I have spent far longer dribbling about the shitty support acts than I will spend on KMFDM themselves, which is a shame because they were pretty damn good. Predictably, it takes about 3 seconds from them arriving on stage before they shout 'KMFDM' at us, and from there it really is just a ride of pounding industrial metal. Beats, inflammatory sloganeering and a sexy lady writhing round inbetween bleeping and singing. If I seem to run out of things to say after the extensive rant above, I suppose it's because the enjoyment of this is self-explanatory from my perspective.
Despite about 25 years on the scene, good old Sascha is still full of energy – rallying the masses and slamming our guts into the walls with churning electro basslines on almost every track. Another decent selection of material as well, with personal highlights being the likes of “Hau Ruck”, “A Drug Against War” and “Light”. KMFDM could never be said to have a varied sound, and they pitched the point perfectly as to when to bow offstage gracefully before I grew tired of hearing a grown man shouting his own band's name on repeat.

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