The Tiger Lillies Hamlet 20th September 2012

At The Southbank Centre

The Tiger Lillies are an esoteric band. It’s not often you find someone who makes blasphemy a major theme. However behind the inch thick makeup up and farce are some talented musicians. Only a passing knowledge of the band is enough to know that this wasn’t going to be a typical production.

Working with the Republique, it was an impressive production combining music, dance, theatre and cinema with excellent set design and choreography to make an interesting dream-like experience. Whilst remaining faithful, a very minimal approach to the original text was taken. The cast was stripped down to Hamlet, his family, Ophelia and her family. Dialogue was minimal. Most progression of the story took place in the form of soliloquies and the pairing of apt choreography and music.

The use of slow-motion and stripping the story down to its core emphasized the descent into madness. Without Horatio there are no other witnesses to the dead king’s ghost leading to Hamlet coming across unhinged from scene one. Without Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Hamlet rants to himself using the cast as puppets or figments of Hamlet’s imagination.

The climax of the play wouldn’t be complete with a string of deaths, and to this end the production does as expected. However, when you remove the minor characters and more than half of the remaining characters lie dead. It makes the characters personal ambition seem more futile.

Hamlet isn’t a play I know particularly well. I did have to make intuitive leaps as the play progressed due to the format being relatively abstract. However, there was a cohesive sense of atmosphere and degeneration. Leaving I did hear some mixed reactions including “once I got over it wasn’t what I expected”, which is fair. But it would be a shame if every production was typical and predictable. Prior knowledge needed is a legitimate complaint, but Hamlet is so ingrained in our culture my second hand cursory knowledge was enough to get me through. However, working with the style the did I think they did a fantastic job and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Angelspit live 15th September 2012

At Elecrotwekz/Slimelight

Angelspit are a fairly unique electro-industrial band from Australia. They have four albums to their name, have recently expanded from a two piece to a four piece and I was glad to get to see them on their Wall Street Massacre tour.

[youtube http://youtu.be/COzASzHd2VI]

Slimelight is the longest running goth/alt club in London. Like most gigs hosted there it leads into the club night after. Unlike previous times I’ve been doors were at 7pm. It was strange getting ready and heading to that venue while it was still light out.

Second on the bill were Uberbyte. They were showcasing the material for their second album. They have a straight up dance approach to their industrial music. I’d heard of the band before, but never really gave them much of a listen. They put on a good show and got the crowd going, but they’re the kind of band I wouldn’t listen to out of a club context.

Angelspit were really good. I saw them the last time they played London and it didn’t quite gel. They were ok, but this time they were excellent. Perhaps they weren’t comfortable with playing as a four piece on such a small stage, perhaps it was an attack of the foreign germs, but whatever it was I know they had good material and gave them the benefit of the doubt. I am not disappointed.

The band have a distinctive two vocal style layered with effects. Coupled with their stage dynamic Zoog and Destroyx made a strong impression. Their set got off to a rocky start with some technical issues and a drum heavy mix, but these issues eased as the set continued and the band captivated.

Playing off album launch gave the band to explore their back catalogue more. Songs like Wolf were missing the last time I saw them, but this time shone as the front-person duo traded phrases and reeled us in with a divide and conquer tactics over the audience.

[youtube http://youtu.be/vY14M3ufW10]

Cold In Berlin Live 7th September 2012

At The Garage

I discovered Cold In Berlin supporting She Wants Revenge a couple of months ago. Unfortunately I was late to the gig and only had a friends praise to go on. I looked them up and started listening to their first album incessantly. And having seeing them headline their album launch was a treat.

I’d not been the Garage in ages, and never upstairs. Its a typical dingy room, but it was loud. Too loud really. All of the support bands had their moments, but the nuance was lost in the din. I came away with the impression that Terminal Gods should only have one guitarist, but that was down to poor mixing.
They definitely had their moments and held the stage. Not just the front man; as a band. Each of them had personality. Not too sure about them in the studio. Drum machine aside, they didn’t come across nearly as retro in the flesh.
I’d had the chance to listen to And Yet a couple of times, but it hadn’t grabbed me as much as the first album.  The lyrics are powerful, intimate and scathing. The songs are good, but the production lacks feels a little flat. Live, however, they were enthralling. My, the front-woman, has a strong stage presence,  spoiled only by her seeming too pleased to be there. (But only slightly.)
What the album lacks, their performance had in spades: dynamics. They played the entire album. She Takes Control made a surprisingly good ender. They played Total Fear and God I Love You for an encore. Short and sweet. I would have liked more of the first album, but it was a really good show.
 

The Virulent Experience

At Conway Hall

Foolish People is a banner under which a collection of artists create immersive art. The Virulent Experience is the first of their pieces that I’ve been aware of, and they will definitely remain on my radar.

What if you thought that mankind was broken? What if you thought you could fix it?

The year is 2040. Human emotion is safely controlled. Your candidacy is appreciated in bringing us into this new world. Your presence confirms your consent. Remember, you consent was given, even if you do not remember the fact.

What if the fix was flawed? What if you could give people freedom?

The Virulent Experience is an interactive theatre cum installation. Conway Hall was perfect for it, right down to the dank in the basement. I was unsure what to expect or even how to paraphrase their description. Now having been I am still having trouble describing what I have witnessed without spoilers. It was definitely an experience.

All other memories and experience prior to receipt of the Welcome Pack are suspect, and may be remnants of Induction implantation.

The Virulent Experience was like a guided tour meets the Stanford Prison Experiment. When there are four walls the only thing left to break is your brain. It was an immersive glimpse into a scenario which unfolded all around you. With the characters spread across a douzen rooms with colliding agendas and narratives.

The scenario unfolds three times of an evening with each conversation giving a glimpse into a greater whole. I found myself being more captivated and compelled to find out the details the more I probed. The rest of the evening had my friends and I discussion what we had witnessed and where our paths had diverged. I’m reminded of Mercury Fur in its singular continuation, except the stage is whichever room you choose to be in.

You are free from Bandwidth limitations. You may experience however and whatever you wish.

Having gone I have more questions than answers. There was a strong sense of narrative and purpose. There is only so much that can be witnessed in a single visit. I have witnessed what happens, but much of the why and how elude me. Yet, every step was with purpose.

This was a very polished production. My only disappointment is that I went towards the end of the run and I won’t have the chance to go again. Foolish People are definitely on my watch list now, and I look forward to what they have prepared for us next.

The Virulent Experience sadly ends this Friday, but I look forward to Strange Factories their first feature film. Its in post-production now and is slated for sometime next year.