... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

573: Laibach, Manchester

We turned up at the Manchester Academy at about 7:20 and wandered around the student union until we found the smallest of the Academies; about fifteen floors up and down a hundred corridors, lined with posters advertising gigs, seminars and mental health research. Eventually we joined a very short queue of geeks and nerds in over-sized boots, arm-bands and military hats and coats. Some people were alone, others in small groups. When I bought my ticket I assumed I would be going alone, but fortunately my flatmate dredged up the cash, and I went accompanied. He has a friend whose grandfather served in an Indian army (possibly the Legion Freies Indien, thank you Wikipedia) allied with the Nazis against the Allied nations. He still has his grandfather's Indian Nazi uniform, and we joked, hilariously, about him wearing it to the Laibach gig, ha!

The doors should have opened at 7.30, but at 7.55 we were just being let in through the door, displaying a shocking lack of precision. My friend nipped off for a quick pray and I nipped in for two quick pints of fizzy piss. Apart from us, of course, the first people to turn up were freaks and nerds (and I mean no offence at all by those words), but later there was a trickle of middle-aged people in anoraks, and one Mick Hucknall lookalike. The two pints kept spraying out in waves sending me repeatedly to the toilet throughout the majority of the night. Before the band marched onstage incidental music from their soundtrack to the forthcoming sci-fi comedy 'Iron Sky', about Nazis from the moon, blasted out from the PA. I had to run to the toilet worried I'd miss the start of the show, but was back with plenty of time to spare. There was even a few calls of get on with it, but eventually Laibach graced us with their forceful and vaguely mythical presence.

Two hipster-looking nerds came onstage and began fiddling with keyboards and laptops. I took them to be technicians/roadies but they settled into place as the shaven-headed drummer took his seat. The iconic form of Laibach singer, and most recognisable member, Milan Fras -with his smart brown suit, Laibach belt-buckle, and desert headgear- stepped onstage followed by an entirely unexpected vision of terrifying beauty. Like some form of sexy cinema Nazi, dressed in tight black skirt, shirt and tie, hair tied back functionally, and head topped with a cap I imagine a WWII comms officer wearing, she marched onstage holding aloft a megaphone screaming feedback into its own mouthpiece. She barked orders at the crowd of suddenly besotted nerds and weirdos before taking up position behind her instrument. Enough, boy; I'm soon to be a married man and can't be carrying on like this. Let me just say, if I was sixteen again, her poster would be on my wall. I later discovered her name is Mina Špiler, and as well as her role in Laibach she is also singer in Slovene electro band Melodrom.

The band were so tight it hurt. The drums were fucking harsh; all songs perfect; almost jazzy atonal piano-bashing; Milan's voice, that penetrating pure bass sprechstimme, was a physical experience of undefined pleasure, and Mina sang with alternating screams and delicate beauty. Highlights of the show were 'Take Me To Heaven' from Iron Sky Soundtrack, 'America' and 'Anglia' from Volk, 'Alle Gegen Alle' from NATO, 'Leben - Tod' from Opus Dei, and most surprising of all, the utterly beautiful 'Across the Universe' from Let It Be. I honestly can't remember if they did 'Opus Dei' and 'Geburt Einer Nation' but I hope they did cos they are among my favourites. I was disappointed by there being nothing else from NATO and nothing from Jesus Christ Superstar, but with 30 years of material that's bound to happen... also would have liked 'Vier Personnen' and 'Drzava' from Nova Akropola, but what can I do about that.

Right, it was very good indeed. Had I missed this I would have regretted for the rest of my long life. I would happily have watched the show again immediately afterwards, repeatedly for the next seven years. My only regret is not following them to London for the Tate Modern turbine hall show on Saturday. Laibach vor allem. Laibach predvsem. Ich liebe Laibach. Ljubim Laibach. Etcetera, etc, &c


Willis Shafthauer said...

That sounds pretty amazing!

I've not heard of them before, any albums you'd recommend?

I watched 'Stalker' by the way, if anything it was even bleaker than I'd hoped it would be! It's kind of like the 'Odyssey,' if you replaced all the adventure with seriously grim conversations about the nature of existence.

It came out the same year as Star Wars too, which is something to think about when watching it, as it really puts it into perspective how fucked Russia was at the time.

Oh, and I've just found out there are some first person shooter games based on it! I hope you can press a button that makes you give up all hope when you're playing...

Kevin Bradshaw said...

I recommend Jesus Christ Superstar, NATO and Let It Be. Also the compilation Anthems is great. There's loads on spotify | here's a link to a playlist.

I still haven't watched Stalker. Might watch it this weekend if I can tear myself away from lighthearted trash television.