If only all the gigs in London were as good as this one! We had an amazing time at this gig and so did everyone else who made this, a sold out gig. Apart from a few, quickly resolved, technical problems with the sound for both Red Sun Revival and Das Ich, this whole evening went exactly as planned. The announced stage times were fully respected, the music in between the bands’ appearances was great and relevant and apart from very few exceptions, everyone was well behaved.

Sadly I had to miss the futuristic show of Machine Rox and their special live cover version of Iggy Pop’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘, but I managed to be on time for Astari Nite.

Illia (Tulloch) was the first of the three musicians to appear on stage and he wrapped the drums with a string of lights, which he then turned on, creating ‘magic’ out of nowhere and making the atmosphere warmer by a fraction. Before Howard (Melnick) and Mychael (Ghost) came out on stage and while this was going on, the dedicated DJ for the evening, put on ‘The Killing Moon‘ by Echo and The Bunnymen and it didn’t matter whether he did that intentionally or not because at that moment, he sort of gave us a hint about what would come next, as the song’s atmosphere suited perfectly with the band’s aesthetics. I was so taken over by their show that I will address them personally in the next few lines if that’s okay 🙂 

Dear Astari Nite, there are not many bands out there that can aesthetically support their music on stage and most importantly, there are not many bands who explore different aspects of post punk/gothic music, without almost replicating things that others have done. Equally, audiences and music fans alike, are instantly ready to highly praise the aggressiveness and boldness of punk music and punk attitude and seem to have become blind to the beauty of dark romanticism. As a band, you embody things that the world is struggling to make us forget and I think this was one of the things that got some people so much by surprise during your show, that the only way for them to show their appreciation was through a prolonged applause. By accepting the applause with humbleness you proved that this, lost from the world, romantic gratitude, runs through your whole existence as a band. Mychael you are charismatic performer because you can communicate gentleness, not in a ‘rehearsed’ way but in a (what I experienced) sincere way and also captivate and retain the attention of the audience, especially the audience of Das Ich! Many bands write and perform new wave and post punk music but not all of them have managed to find and present their very own stage character and very few of them can communicate the dark romantic and the dramatic elements of these music genres during a live show. Even though there were no visuals, the inferred emotional dynamics of Mychael’s performing style coupled with the lit drums, Ilia’s unlikely gentle for a drummer appearance and Howard’s composed performance, kept re-eastablishing (for me at least) the meaning of the word ‘theatrical’. It is not necessary for someone to actually move in a certain way or do ‘unusual’ things on stage in order to be characterized as theatrical. It is not even necessary for a singer to be dressed in a certain way or wear captivating make up or gaze at the audience in a certain way. Theatrical qualities can be inferred through small gestures and through the ability of a voice to communicate in a subtle way, very powerful emotions and ideas. Theatrical qualities are present in the small details (e.g. lit drums). So, what I am trying to say, dear Astari Nite, is that while listening to your songs for the first time live, I realised that you start writing music using as reference points some qualities that seem to have been forgotten, even within the alternative music world. We have listened to versions of your songs which felt much different and some better than the album versions. One of those was ‘The Boy Who Tried‘ whose rhythm seemed to be a bit slower and its performance was emotionally charged beyond expectation.

If you have only listened to this band’s music through headphones, you haven’t quite grasped what this band is really about, but their time on stage was not the only occasion where we got a glimpse of their characters as musicians…Astari Nite will release their next album entitled ‘Midnight Conversations‘ through Cleopatra Records on March 23rd and we can’t wait to listen to it especially since this albums has been produced by Tom Shear a.k.a Assemblage 23!

If we were to assign a colour palette to Astari Nite’s show then this would contain different tones of red biased purple colour. But the band that came next on stage, our beloved Red Sun Revival, was about to change this colour palette to different tones of blue biased grey.

It has been a while since the last time I saw Red Sun Revival perform live, so I was able to see the elements that the band has evolved in the meantime. This was the first time I saw them in such a good and relaxed mood, both with each other and with the audience. Everything worked well, the songs of their two albums have now been deeply rooted within them and they can relax and focus on the performance and communication with us. Rob was more approachable this time as he addressed the audience in between songs and Christina was interacting with almost everyone on and off stage. Simon, enveloped by smoke, was in a drums-induced trance the whole time at the back and Kostas, as always, was the more kind of detached element of the band’s appearance. The set list started with ‘My Child‘, Running From The Dawn‘ and a beautiful version of ‘Fade In Time‘ and included my favourite ‘Mistakes‘ and ‘Premonition‘. There were a few quickly resolved sound engineering problems as everyone else’s sound was masking the vocals and as a result, Rob had to struggle to be heard even at the front row at some point. The audience loved them and they were the ideal opening act for Das Ich as the lyricism of the violin, dissolved the dark mist that Astari Nite have created, while Rob’s assertive voice painted a less emotionally fragile picture that was framed by the notes of the bass and the rhythmic pulse of the drums. I loved to see Red Sun Revival again and was very glad to learn that a new album is in the making as the time for this feels right. Congratulations to all about this beautiful show.

Now, the atmosphere was about to get infinitely darker, theatrical in every sense and a tad macabre, taking up the blackness of a dark red colour palette. Das Ich took upon themselves the, difficult to some, task, of presenting to us a theatrical play with music. Waiting impatiently to see Das Ich is one thing, expecting to see a drummer with them is quite another! And yet, Illia (Tulloch) found his place behind the drums in order to exacerbate the pulsating rhythm of ‘Die Propheten‘, with which Das Ich made an impressive entrance and started their show. I have seen the band perform live before, but this time I had some sort of an epiphany as they were performing. The idea came to me that all of them, are personifications of Hieronymus Bosch’s characters. In fact if you take a closer look at ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’ you can see miniature versions of, Bruno, Stephan and Damian (Hrunka) who came from New York and joined the band for their UK tour, in it!

On the other hand, it is impressive what a different positioning of instruments can do to the overall perspective on stage. Bruno’s synth was facing either of the two diagonals so when this positioning was combined with Stefan’s manic movement in all possible directions and Damian’s ‘quiet’ but menacing presence, one could only be awestruck! Das Ich have an unapologetic, majestic power in their rhythms, which can become almost too much to absorb sometimes. They presented themselves as characters of a gothic novel and brought with them on stage, the menacing kinesiology of these characters as it has been depicted in engravings and sketches from 1800s to approximately the 1920s. While Stefan’s character was representing a devilish character whose impact was accentuated by his red painted upper body and the exaggerated facial expressions, Bruno’s Dracula inspired attire and his slow moving and ritualistic dance with the keyboards, ascribed to him, ill-intended seducing qualities. Damian’s more static and imposing stance made sure that any thought of ‘escaping’ Das Ich dark ‘spell’, was immediately dismissed! In that feverish atmosphere, the rhythms of the songs, took otherworldly qualities that made them sound like the drums of hell and made me wonder if, before this gig, I had ever actually listened to Das Ich or I was just merely hearing their songs through sound systems that seriously undermined their strength! After a few songs, Astari Nite also appeared on the side of the stage. As it turned out, there were quite a few problems with the cables on stage, as a few things were moving quite a lot throughout the performance. It was mainly Ilia,that made the extra effort, constantly keeping an eye from the side of the stage, in order to unfold entangled cables and ensure the smooth running of the show. Seeing this supportive side of Astari Nite, made me realize that there was sincere appreciation and friendship between the bands not just a collaboration and meeting of the two for the purposes of a tour. A few songs later, this impression was confirmed, during a short interval, during which Bruno, first of all, thanked Astari Nite for the wonderful time the bands shared while on tour together and praised them for their attitude towards music and towards everything that came up during the tour. Bruno said, gesturing at them at the side of the stage “…these guys right here have shown a true rock attitude all these days…“. Next, he thanked Flag Promotions and Frank personally, by saying “…you are not just our promoter in the UK, you are our friend…“. And then came the highlight of the evening as both Bruno and Stefan said “We are very glad to be here in this beautiful country, we have seen such beautiful places during this tour and we are very happy to be playing in London again after many years but this tour was also important in the context of Brexit. This country has always been the thorn in Strasbourg and has shown to the rest of the world, how a multicultural society can work…and suddenly people go and vote for this stupid Brexit. This music scene always welcomed people from many countries and this is what makes it special for us as well, we love to be playing in a diverse audience. So our message is this: Reverse Brexit and let’s all be a big European gothic family!” The audience reacted through spontaneous cheers that filled the space as a response. What was being said added more meaning to this theatrical show and a sense of optimism for the perceptiveness of the band towards recent developments and their impact on the music world. We listened to unrecognisably powerful versions of ‘Kain und Abel‘, ‘Kindgott‘, ‘Garden Eden‘, in which Damian was also providing backing vocals, before enjoying a nice surprise.

A few moments later Das Ich invited Astari Nite back on stage, in order to perform ‘Gottes Tod‘ together. It was indeed a special moment, that proved their camaraderie in the most definitive way. I loved the way the different energies of the two bands merged and created something bigger than both of them together, as the chorus’ words ‘Gottes Tod’ were being ritualistically repeated…! With the departure of Astari Nite from the stage, came the time for the encore and after Das Ich asked what we wanted to listen to next everyone just shouted ‘Destillat‘ and a passionate, resonating version of that song is what we actually got!

Das Ich might have finished their setlist on stage with that song, but Bruno had promised an after party at Slimelight later in the evening and he did not make us wait too long. Among songs of London After Midnight and Depeche Mode, people were singing the lyrics of songs whenever Bruno turned down the volume on purpose. The positive energy of the live show was being transferred to the dance floor, which was full when Astari Nite also joined. I left with the conviction that this was one of the most memorable shows of 2018 so far, because it was so much more than just a gig.

Thank you Bruno, Stefan, Damian, Illia, Mychael, Howard, Rob, Christina, Simon, Kostas, and Machine Rox, for offering a show in which I personally had a great time. As for everyone who did not attend this show, just make sure you do not miss any of the bands when they perform next.

Das Ich shows: http://new.dasich.de/all-events/
Astari Nite shows: https://officialastarinite.com/shows/
Red Sun Revival shows: http://redsunrevival.com/live/

Blaue Rosen box

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