see all the photos from this concert here

The Dead
Slimelight, London
Saturday September 25 2004
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis

There’s a strobe on overdrive hammering out its blank white message. There are vague shapes behind the light, and a blast of noise coming out of the PA, like a washing machine on the techno remix cycle. Somewhere in all this, a voice is almost singing. What can it all mean? The Dead are back, that’s what it means. The powernoise performance poets who gatecrashed Andi Sex Gang’s gig a while back have got themselves another gig - and this time they’re doing music. Well, sort of. Their set is clearly an attempt to be confrontational and ‘difficult’, and it works up to a point. But the trouble is, in these post-punk, post-industrial, post-everything times, this kind of antagonise-the-audience stuff has been done and done and done.  It doesn’t even get anyone annoyed any more. As The Dead rant and blare, the sparse early crowd simply stands and stares into the strobe with mild interest. I think if The Dead are to continue with their, uh, project they should consider adding a bit of structure to their raw art. OK, so this might mean taking a step or two in the direction of conventionality, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Because nobody gets all worked up about full-on confrontation these days. Nope, we just get a little bit bored.

Attrition are not in the business of plain old confrontation, but they’re certainly taking no prisoners tonight. Attrition are always a somewhat harder-hitting proposition on stage than their precise, cerebral recorded incarnation - out go the violins, in come shuddering slabs of analogue electronics - and on this occasion they certainly seem to have lit a fire under themselves. Not that they’ve gone all rock ‘n’ roll, or anything: now that really would be a turn-up. But Martin Bowes rasps out his lyrics with plenty of grit and attitude, and I recall that the new songs - of which there are plenty in the set tonight - apparently document all sorts of upheavals in his personal life. Judging by the bile and wormwood which flavours this performance, some of those upheavals still rankle. Whatever behind the scenes events have inspired Attrition’s new material, the fire that smoulders beneath it all is obviously still burning. ‘Dante’s Kitchen’ is a swirling mass of booming rhythm; ‘Acid Tounge’, Attrition’s long-time opening track, now shunted into mid-set, slams harder than ever. A bit of a classic set, I’d venture, and I speak as a veteran of many and various Attrition gigs. Tonight, we get Attrition on overdrive: full speed ahead, and some of that essential grit in the gears.

Tuxedomoon have certainly pulled their fans out of the woodwork for this one. The Slimelight is positively stuffed with people who have clearly made a point of being here just for the band. Right at the front there’s a couple of Geordie boys, down from Newcastle for the occasion, and almost vibrating with anticipation. What is it about Tuxedomoon that inspires such devotion? Perhaps it’s because they’re one of those bands that has doggedly ploughed an individual furrow for more years than I suspect any of us care to think about. Since they emerged from the electronic music lab at San Franscisco City College in 1977, and found kindred spirits in such whackos as Devo and The Residents (to whose Ralph Records label they signed), they’ve cruised through umpteen musical excursions and myriad line-up changes to arrive here, in a grimy warehouse in north London in 2004, in front of a crowd which clearly believes that the messiah, or at the very least his backing band, has come amongst us once again. It’s hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm as the band plunge into a set of quirky avant-jazz-industrial numbers, running the gamut from cooled out grooves to great slabs of heated up noise. The band members wear the years lightly, coming on like an arty, surrealist version of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds.  Founder member Blaine Reininger, on lead guitar and violin, fronts the show with avuncular irony, ever and anon raising an eyebrow at the audience as if to dispel any notion that we should take the proceedings with po-faced seriousness. He’s the principal visual focus - indeed, *the* visual focus - of the band, and it must be said that without him Tuxedomoon would probably be a little too muso-ish for comfort. With him, they’re cool. Projections dance behind the band, while the music is full of tangents and excursions, seldom going where you’d expect it to go, and that counts as good stuff in my book. Some of the regular Slimelight cyber-crew, standing at the back wearing bemused expressions, waiting for the EBM to begin, are rather nonplussed (there’s even a shout of ‘You’re rubbish!’ at one point) but the Tuxedomoon massive never lets their enthusiasm slip, and Tuxedomoon themselves are entirely unfazed. I dare say, at this distance, they’ve heard it all. At the end, an accolade. One of the Geordie lads turns to his mate and exclaims: ‘I think I’m the second happiest I’ve ever been!’  Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t argue with that.

 see all the photos from this concert here

Tuxedomoon (official site):

Blaine Reininger's Tuxedomoon page:


The Dead:  (No website)

Hagshadow/Hinoeuma The Malediction, promoters of the gig:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: