Current 93/Nurse With Wound/Simon Finn – the circle is completed…


As I pointed out in my last blog, I’ve been waiting twenty years for this gig to happen, but getting to see it at all was entirely due to a good friend, Patrick O’Sullivan, having a spare ticket and also my wife, Liz, forwarding me the money to get the train down from MK. So, the question that naturally arises from this is: was it all worth it?

For me, I would have to say YES! Bearing in mind that this is the first time that I have seen any of these projects live, quality of performance is something I can’t judge with any accuracy: maybe I’ll think differently when I’ve notched up a few more times watching them. Needless to say, what follows is coloured by my unfamiliarity with either of these outfits as performing entities, so bear with me if I appear overly-gushing. And please note: these are just impressions, and are not meant to be a complete review in any way.. so saying that:

The venue itself is a magnificent early-20th century example of style and elegance (see photo above), albeit looking slightly dowdy after standing in the heart of crowded London for nearly 100 years. The interior has, somewhat predictably, a Romanesque theme, with eagles on standards, shields, laurel leaves and a frieze of horses running around the walls. The gig was a seated affair, which my back was extremely grateful for, and it appeared to be sold out, too, a very good thing in my opinion. My only complaint of the evening was that finding the right seat was a mightily confusing affair, as the rows were unmarked and the seat numbers difficult to discern – if anybody else intends going to this venue I suggest you take a small torch with you.

Plenty of luscious merchandise was available – I settled for a Current 93 t-shirt in my favourite colour, black. But if you had mounds of filthy lucre with you all kinds of recorded goodies were available to tempt you, all of which will, no doubt, become staggeringly valuable five minutes after purchase (a common occurrence with both C93 and NWW).

First act of the night, Simon Finn from Canada, I wasn’t particularly impressed with – but I put that down to a matter of personal taste, more than anything. His songs failed to create any kind of atmosphere that I could latch on to, and unfortunately left me feeling a tad indifferent. BUT, fortunately for HIM, though, it appears there were many who had come specifically to see him and, judging by the reception and applause after every song, those who had came away immensely satisfied.

The NWW of last night were very different to the NWW of 1989, which was when I first discovered Steven Stapleton’s now seminal outfit – not to imply that the difference is any bad thing. For those unfamiliar with their output, their initial recorded offerings were very influenced by avant-garde atonality, Krautrock and deconstruction of anything resembling structure, often being noisy, freeform and chaotic. Thus were they hailed as being in the vanguard of the ‘industrial music’ movement, an epithet they themselves objected to. Since then, the music has developed more along the lines of drone and dark ambient.

Certainly last night’s hour-long set was more in keeping with the latter – opening up with lush chords that developed into a more freeform, unstructured noise free-for-all by its conclusion. Along the way there were even some vocals, courtesy of a blonde lady (name unknown) with a stunning voice, and (gosh) more than a hint of rhythm. The visuals accompanying the set were both disturbing and unsettling: people living in a house on fire, and people acting out their lives underwater. Bizarre, but highly effective and somehow appropriate.

The crown jewel of the evening, however, was C93. The group of musicians assembled by David Tibet were ten or eleven strong, and Tibet was himself introduced with much theatricality by a gentleman wearing evening attire and the tallest top-hat I have yet encountered, leading me to expect smoke to billow out of it. In many ways, that dramatic introduction set the scene – C93’s brand of hallucinatory experimentalism almost demands a well-developed sense of theatre and, although visually it was kept to a minimum, in terms of emotional delivery and vocal style it was there in buckets. Michael Cashmore, a constant contributor since the Thunder Perfect Mind album, made a guest appearance on guitar towards the end of the set, which rounded out proceedings nicely. I would have liked to have seen more guest-appearances, considering just how many people who have worked with Tibet over the years (including Rose McDowall of Strawberry Switchblade and Icelandic pixie Bjork, for instance), but I guess the old adage ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ gleefully applies here – I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

A magnificent evening, with great company (and also meeting up with Per Ahlund of Diskrepant, too) and some fine, atmospheric music, only spoiled by the repetitive confusion of where it was people were meant to be sitting. Without a doubt I will definitely go and see both NWW and C93 again if they play these shores anytime soon… now, all I need to complete my list of bands I want to see is for Ministry and Psychic TV to come over here, Godflesh to reform, Jhon Balance to be resurrected so COIL can play again and, finally, me to have enough money to pay for a ticket to see Killing Joke… then I’ll be very happy…

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