Concert Review by Mark Bayross
LA2, London – 30 May 2000
Despite the fact this is taking place on a Tuesday night, the LA2 is packed, and not just with the usual crowd of goths and rivetheads. Many of the audience appear to have come straight from the office. In this context, the industrial techno pummelling of appropriately-named opening act Ultraviolence seems a bit out of place. Having said that, the combination of relentless pounding gabba beats, gyrating female dancers and Johnny Violent’s cyber-terrorist frontman act are quite an entertaining diversion from the drudgery of the working week.
The occasional female vocals do a good job of adding some colour to the thick darkness of the electronics, but still the overall effect is like :Wumpscut: covering the Prodigy after taking excessive amounts of speed. The performance ends with strobes going haywire and Mr Violent machine gunning the crowd. Epileptic fits aside, Ultraviolence leave the crowd fired up for the main event.
There are many reasons to love The Young Gods: they have continued to create cutting edge music throughout their 15 year existence; they politely refuse to follow traditional song structures (not for them the verse-chorus-verse approach); they are unencumbered by language (their repertoire spans French, English and the odd bit of German, yet they have still had a phenomenal impact on the English-speaking music world); and they have no desire whatsoever to sound like any other band on the planet.
Swathed in blue light, the three Young Gods take the stage to the sound of a new song, a tightly-wound ambient piece punctuated with the odd burst of metallic clanking. Singer Franz Treichler stands front and centre, eyes shut, clinging to the microphone like it’s a departing lover. It’s a hypnotic start and serves to encapsulate the Young Gods’ live performance – captivating, mesmerising, and (maybe on account of the French accents) very sensual.
New single LUCIDOGEN gets the crowd moving, before KISSING THE SUN initiates a mass slamming session, its layers of electronically-processed guitars providing the ultimate 21st century mosh material. “We’re going to play some new stuff now”, mumbles Franz, before the group unleash a series of increasingly stunning new songs. It’s a bit like Michelangelo saying he’s “slapped some paint’ onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The new material has all the trademark Young Gods elements: trance-inducing electronics mixed with bizarre noises and almost sexual vocal delivery, but with one exception – the drums. Whereas former drummer Use Hiestand was pretty talented (listen to their version of Kurt Weill’s “Mackie Messer’), new boy Bernard Trontin is a veritable tour de force – he spends half the time drumming standing up, punctuating frenetic rhythms with virtuoso crashes of symbol. One of the new songs in particular sounds incredible – mixing liquid beats with tribal drumming – the new album is going to be special.
The rest of the set is made up of late period material – THE NIGHT DANCE, an ecstatically-received SKINFLOWERS (with the first verse strummed by Franz on acoustic guitar), the noisy middle bit of MOON REVOLUTIONS – and very first single ENVOYE (during which Franz leaps into the crowd and emerges grinning and shoeless).
The band leave the stage with the audience clamouring for more. It’s not long before they re-appear to give us what we want, launching into the rumble-heavy STRANGEL, before taking the energy level down again with SPEED OF LIGHT and finishing off with DAME CHANCE. They disappear. The crowd goes mad again. And they re-emerge to play another encore!
The sound of crashing waves heralds Kurt Weill’s haunting SEPTEMBER SONG, delivered with equal parts tenderness and intensity, before they appease the hecklers by playing the awesome L’AMOURI. During the rousing vocal crescendo, someone jumps onstage and kisses Franz, swiftly followed by a few more admirers, and he actually looks embarrassed at the adulation. They finish up with the trip-hop of DONNEZ LES ESPRITS and disappear for good. No more songs, but then it’s not as if we haven’t have value for money tonight.
As ever, The Young Gods succeed in being hypnotic and heavy, melodic and noisy, familiar yet utterly unique. They didn’t play GASOLINE MAN, LONGUE ROUTE or the incredible TV SKY (stormers, all), but they still deliver a performance with the power to climb inside your head and shake your entire body into a pulverising trance.