Returning to Britain for the second time with the Volk tour, Laibach had arranged three dates; a fourth date had to be cancelled due to a licensing problem delaying the opening of the Leeds Rio. The last date was London and possibly the most accessible place for those who had to travel far; the other dates were Milton Keynes and Colchester. The venue for London was the CC Club, which was right in the middle of the city centre near Piccadilly Circus and part of the Trocadero complex. Gloriously sunny London was absolutely bustling with people that day, on my way to concert via Oxford Street it just felt being in a big queue. Got there nice and early but had a quite a long wait as there was a delay in getting the venue ready therefore the wait outside resulted in two long queues, pulling in a lot of curious glances from the shoppers and other passer-bys for some reason. The concert was easily sold out, unfortunately that meant there were a number of people hunting around for spare tickets.
Eventually entering the venue I noticed the Live Here Now crew with their gear set out for the live CD they were planning to record that night and there was the usual Laibach stall selling a wide range of merchandise including picture size prints of the Volk promo photos which were quite tempting if I didn't have the long journey back to Glasgow ahead of me. Looking towards the stage was a bit of a shock as it was clearly very small for the amount of equipment loaded. The stage was obviously a temporary construction and there was no gap between it and the audience, the two projectors were mounted on two stands right at the front of the stage and to some extent in the way. However when the concert got underway it was good enough, either that or we just got used to it.
As we waited in the concert hall some sort of neo classical music played through the sound system, it was quite intriguing and enjoyable; certainly would be interested to know what it was. The now familiar Slovene Partisan anthems followed before heralding the start of the concert with the UK national anthem. Dry ice began flowing as the musicians Luka Jamnik, Primoz Hladnik and Janez Gabric walked on carefully; one false move on the cramped stage was bound to send someone flying.
Germania began playing, Milan delayed his entry onto the stage until his part was due then stepping on to a loud cheer; he was closely followed by Mina Spiler. All were wearing the same outfits as before, initially everything appeared to be pretty much the same as last time back in November but gradually a lot of changes in the music could be heard, some were quite significant though whether it was simply evolving or was arranged specially for the benefit of the of the live CD, the results certainly freshened it up for those who have already seen the Volk tour. The band was clearly very comfortable in their roles having been touring regularly since last November. Mina is an excellent stand in for Boris, so much so it would have been disappointing if she were not there, she fits nicely into the whole theme and has a very good voice, mind you, all through the show she smoked one cigarette after another, at that rate she'll soon be able to deputise for Milan. She totally immersed herself into her role, occasionally stamping her boots to the rhythm.
video clip 1 - Germania
The music from Volk is brilliant played out live and the band's musical performance that night was exceptional; in particular Primoz Hladnik's keyboard playing delivering delicate musical twists to maximum effect. Then of course there is Milan, captivating as ever and a truly unique performer. He did appear to be somewhat irritated with a couple of individuals in the audience attempting to wind him up (they were possibly reacting to Anglia), but he didn't allow it to distract the show instead seemed to assimilate his annoyance into his performance and it was all the more vibrant for it.
At the end of Zhonghuá, Milan and Mina left the stage, and as Nippon started up Boris, aptly billed as the special ghost appearance, crept barefoot onto the stage in a rather far out black outfit with a black velvet or fur lined collar and a long skirt-like robe. It was one of the best highlights of the night, Boris was excellent and highly appreciated by the entire audience, one observer remarked that you could have heard a pin drop during the performance. It was a rare appearance by Boris having beforehand appeared only in Trbovlje and the previous night in Colchester. Boris received a very enthusiastic round of applause and stayed onstage to perform Slovania with Milan and Mina. The entire band then left the stage as the NSK anthem played through the sound system, when it played to the end the band returned with the usual changeover in the line-up for the second part. Damjan Bizilj replaced Mina on the sound module. Eva Breznikar and Nataa Regovec took up position with their drum kits at the opposite end of the stage delivering the more forceful beats along with their choreographed routines, which all adds to the unique and powerful totalitarian spectacle. They have become a strong part of Laibach's appeal and although their role is in complete contrast to their work outside Laibach, Eva is a member of the Slovene pop group Makeup 2 while Nataa is a former member, but you couldn't imagine anyone else doing it better.
video clip 2 - Nippon featuring Boris Benko
The crowd really took to the harder more energetic sound of the selection from WAT plus Alle Gegen Alle. While they didn't change the set I did noticed right away a lot of changes to the tracks themselves. They had a lot Kraftwerk/electronic style sounds worked in or some other modification; it was quite dramatic in places especially Tanz mit Laibach with a much more techno style beat. I particularly liked what they did with Hell: Symmetry. Quite possibly it was the result of performing with Silence who was no doubt suggesting ideas. The show ended with Das Spiel Ist Aus and they left the stage briefly before returning as the Iturk Laibach Mix played and acknowledged the enthusiastic applause and cheers from the audience. They were not quite as flamboyant or as long on the stage as last time. It was a great show and I was very glad it had been recorded.
The CD was ready long before I got round to getting my copy from the stall however it wasn't until late the next day I could actually get a chance to hear it. When the chance came I was impressed, it's a very clean recording capturing even the more delicate part of the performance, vastly superior to any bootleg so it is a desirable purchase for anyone wanting to hear the live sound of Volk. I liked the drumming on Yisra'el and it was a fantastic song live, it has been captured very well on the CD; Nippon is also a highlight on the CD as it was in the hall. There is very little crowd noise interfering with the recording, naturally the audience are enthusiastically cheering through the Iturk Laibach Mix while the band was onstage taking a bow. The live CD will be available for a limited period and can be ordered from www.liveherenow.co.uk
Volk is a great show and will be on the road for a good bit longer, already there are plans for another European tour later in the year and hopefully the UK will also feature.
Tanz mit Laibach
Alle Gegen Alle
Du Bist Unser
Das Spiel Ist Aus
Iturk Laibach mix