|see all of the photos from this concert here
Sex Gang Children
The Ghost of Lemora
Saturday July 27
~review and photos by Uncle
It's bargain night at the Slimelight tonight.
It's free entry to members before 11.30pm, and the club has re-arranged
its usual interior layout to provide three separate dancefloors: bangin'
Techno on the ground floor, EBM/synthpop in the middle - and Goth at the
top. This turns out to mean a playlist which runs from vintage Christian
Death to classic Nick Cave; Engelstaub to X-Mal Deutschland, all of which
sounds good to me. I supply myself with a beer, and sit down to listen
to the DJ's selections.
The goth floor just happens to be the location
of the Slimelight's stage and live PA. These are rather rudimentary facilities
by the standards of most full-time live music venues, but for any band
which is prepared to wing it, the Slime offers a rare (for London) opportunity
to play a late-night slot right at the heart of things. And tonight there's
a live music line-up that has a distinct air of quality about it. The Ghost
Of Lemora, London's archly humourous glam-goths, opening up for the latest
incarnation of one of the scene's early pioneers - the Sex Gang Children.
All this and you get in free? Now that can't be bad!
The main drawback of the Slimelight is
the total lack of anything resembling proper stage lighting. One or two
of the dancefloor lights are turned towards the stage, and these have to
suffice as illumination for the bands. It's woefully inadequate - the entire
stage-right area is in darkness throughout, while the rest of the stage
is swept randomly by ever-moving scanner-beams.You don't really *watch*
a band play at the Slimelight - it's more a case of catching random glimpses
of shadowy figures on stage as the lights flicker over them.
Still, The Ghost Of Lemora clamber on stage
gamely enough, and wallop out a set of their half-camp, half-sardonic songs.
Twinkle is wearing what looks like a long, pencil-cut dress of some sort
of sheer material. With his mop of artfully-teased hair, he looks like
a paintbrush. He struggles to adjust the mic stand, and the bass player,
wearing a resigned 'Let *me* do it!' expression, comes to his aid. 'This
is Stuart, our bassist,' explains the keyboard player. 'He's quite hard.'
All the Lemoras seem to have their own personas, their own quirks and foibles,
and, for all I know, their own superhuman powers. The action figures will
be great. For now, we'll just have to watch them acting it all out on stage,
to a soundtrack of robust glammed-up gothpop. Good stuff in its own right,
and a perfect foil for the Sex Gang Children - for, like The Ghost Of Lemora,
Andi Sex Gang has always had at least one foot in glam, even if the rest
of him has been somewhere quite different.
The Sex Gang Children were one of the very
earliest bands of the goth scene, when goth was nothing more than a weird
offshoot of punk. Their early music made quite an impact. Songs like 'Mauritia
Mayer' and 'Sebastiane' were scratchy, unsettling, fractious things, which
bore no resemblance to the portentous, clumping, four-square rock which
came to be the soundtrack of late-model goth. Andi Sex Gang himself has
had a lengthy and diverse solo career - recording with David Bowie's Ziggy-period
guitarist, Mick Ronson, covering Marianne Faithful songs, shooting
off on all kinds of tangents - but always in pursuit of his own visions,
his own art. Becoming a rock star was never really on the agenda. Mind
you, I always got the impression that Andi wouldn't say no if fate happened
to bring rock stardom within reach...
To find the Sex Gang Children revived and
gigging again - with a new album out and all - is a bit of a surprise.
On closer inspection, it appears that it's the *name* which has been revived:
the motley assortment of black-clad figures who troop on stage tonight
essentially comprises the musicians who've been backing Andi on his recent
solo stuff. This is not a Bauhaus-style 'original line-up' reunion: it's
more of a progression from previous stages of Andi's career. It's as if
he's travelled so far from the original, 80s-vintage, Sex Gang Children
that he's come upon them again, like a sailor who's been around the world
and arrives back at his starting point from another direction. The crowd
which gathers hopefully at the front as the band prepare to begin expects
to hear some classics of yesteryear - speculation abounds as to which old-skool
tunes we'll get tonight. Me, I say nothing. I have a feeling that Andi
himself doesn't regard *this* incarnation of the Sex Gang Children as anything
remotely old-skool. I'm willing to bet he'll play *new* stuff.
And...he does. The set is drawn entirely
from the new Sex Gang Children album, 'Bastard Art' - and therefore it's
all unfamiliar material. I can't even give you song titles. I can, however,
describe the sound and the show. The band - a collection of stick-thin,
cadaverous rock-reprobates, with two guitarists, a bassist, drummer and
violinist in their ranks - play a well-drilled, precise yet dramatic brand
of rock, which - yes! - sounds distinctly glammy at times. Other times,
it sounds uncannily like Cinema Strange, although I quickly catch that
thought and turn it round the other way: it's Cinema Strange who sound
like the Sex Gang Children (C'mon, admit it, gentlemen: *we* know what
you've got in your record collections!)
Andi Sex Gang himself is wearing a black
suit and spectacles, and seems both manic and expansive, coming on like
a funeral director who's mischievously decided to floor the accelerator
next time he's out in the hearse, and is gleefully anticipating the expressions
on the faces of the grieving relatives as the deceased shoots off at 90mph.
He strides the stage, making grand gestures as if he's trying to sweep
the entire audience into his arms - and there's a fan club at the front
who wouldn't mind that a bit. A girl just behind me leaps forward and reaches
up to kiss Andi, mid-song. He doesn't miss a beat. Some of the material
seems almost spoken-word: Andi declaiming bizarre mantras over relentlessly
circulating guitar-figures; then he suddenly takes off into a raging storm
of freaking glam-anthems. The sound is rich and full, the tempos generally
slo-mo and swinging. It's captivating stuff, and Andi is a hypnotic performer.
He commands attention:
you simply can't look away. Even the old-skool fans at the back, who are
still holding out for the hits, seem impressed. This is a man who's honed
his stagecraft over years of performing, and it shows. His sheer presence
is electric. The crowd is lost in Sex Gang world.
The set is short. Suddenly, without warning,
it's over. The band vanish from the stage, and the audience just stands
there, nonplussed. Will there be an encore? We wait...and wait. Nobody
comes back on stage, although there are random comings and goings in the
backstage area. Eventually the DJ makes the decision for everyone, and
starts up 'Lagartija Nick' by Bauhaus. I can't help feeling the show wasn't
supposed to end that way - but it's over. The crowd wanders off, and the
floor fills with whirling dancers. I'm left feeling we've been given a
tantalising hint of great things...but the feast is yet to come.
see all of the photos from this concert here
Andi Sex Gang's website: http://www.andisexgang.com
The Ghost Of Lemora: http://www.geocities.com/theghostoflemora/
The official Slimelight website: http://www.slimelightlondon.com
An unofficial Slimelight site, put together
by long-standing Slime-DJ Steve: http://www.slimelightdj.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to