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The Good Friday Dismemberment

The Ghost Of Lemora
Miguel And The Living Dead
All Gone DeadViolet Stigmata
All Gone Dead

The Spitz, London
Friday April 14 2006

 

Once more up the Spitz, dear friends, for another of London deathrock promoter Cavey Nik's east end hoedowns. This time we're celebrating Easter with a suitably festive packet of rackets,and the first of these is generated by All Gone Dead. Now here's a band which has changed quite a bit since I caught their first ever show almost exactly a year ago. Out goes the old line-up, and in comes Polly, ex- of The Narcissus Pool on guitar. The sound's been toughened up: the songs hit harder and move faster. But here comes perhaps the biggest difference. At that first gig, I recall, All Gone Dead showed much promise, but there was no disguising the fact that they were very new. Now, there's a certain air of confidence about the band, a feeling that they've got their shit nailed down. (Don't try that at home, by the way, kids.) The songs rattle out of the PA, one hard on the heels of another, like punk rock commuter trains in the rush hour. The guitar shivers and blasts, the bass grinds its teeth, frontman Stitch prowls the stage fairly bristling with attitude. Yes, it definitely seems like All Gone Dead have unleashed their inner punks. They whip up some colourful drama on stage, shapes and noise in the smoke and lights, and the audience responds by getting a good mosh on - quite an achievement for an opening band. I'm impressed. I have to admit I wasn't expecting All Gone Dead to get so good so quickly. But I'll also say this: it's good to be taken aback by a band who clearly know where they're going and aren't about to waste time getting there.

Violet StigmataViolet Stigmata are in the UK for the Beyond The Veil festival in Leeds, and found themselves pulled in at short notice for this show after Bohemien, the band originally booked, had to cancel due to the death of their drummer. It's not a great way to get a gig, of course, but the show must go on, and all that - and Violet Stigmata certainly know how to put on a show. The singer is suited, booted, and also top-hatted, like a Victorian businessman who took a wrong turning on his way to the chamber of commerce. He's flanked by a hyperactive bassist and a sternly impassive guitarist (who isn't too sternly impassive to throw some shameless rock 'n' roll poses along the way); a keyboard player in the background fleshes out the sound and a drummer keeps it all pounding forward. The Violet Stigmata sound is clearly rooted in ye olde gothick rock, but with plenty of individuality and flamboyance, plus assorted tangents in the sound which keep the audience guessing. For all the shape-throwing and gyrations from the band, the performance belongs to the singer, and he presides over the proceedings with genial good humour and many a manic, unsettling, grin. It's all wrapped up in that big, dark sound, and the overall effect is of a band almost too big - in terms of sheer looming presence - for the stage. Good stuff, and also deliciously odd stuff.

Miguel & The Living DeadMiguel And The Living Dead have a (slightly) Spanish name, but actually come from Poland. They play horror punk. Now, if you've read my remarks elsewhere on this particular sub-genre, you'll know it's not exactly my favourite thing. After a while, all the bands tend to blur into a samey sub-Misfits blare: they all write 100mph songs about zombies, they all go 'Wooah-wooah!' in the choruses, they all wear joke shop horror make-up, and frankly once you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Miguel And The Living Dead follow the rule book pretty closely, but they do have a somewhat heavier, grittier sound than most. That's not quite enough to make up for the fact that the songs never really stray from the formula zone, or indeed for the fact that the singer looks like Ozzy Osbourne's little brother after an accident the spray paint section of Halfords, but it does mean I can stand just over three songs before my go-to-the-bar instincts kick in. That's pretty good going for me. In the past, horror punk bands have driven me howling from the room after less than one song. I suppose that makes Miguel And The Living Dead a cut above the rest, then, although on my personal score sheet, being a fairly decent horror punk band still doesn't get you more than four out of ten.

The Ghost Of Lemora are the odd ones out on this bill, in a way: an established British goth band who came up via the traditional UK goth scene route. It's actually rather encouraging to see that it's still possible to work up to headliner status in this fashion. It's become commonplace to see bands from elsewhere in Europe or the USA parachuted in to headline slots at many larger UK shows, because we just don't have many home-grown acts these days big enough to head up anything much over a pub gig. But The Ghost Of Lemora have made it, and they've done so on the back of their witty, clever lyrics, eloquent tunesmithery, and a winning way with a catchy chorus. Solid virtues and no gimmicks, in other words, unless you count guitarist Swifty's habit of dropping surreal one-liners between the songs. The band pitch into their set with their trademark combination of humour and melodrama, vocalist Twinkle flailing about the stage in his best doomed poet manner. 'The Glamour' is foppish decadence to a drum machine beat; 'Brides Of The Atom' is all retro sci-fi references set to twenty-first century rock 'n' roll. There are new songs, too, which demonstrate the band haven't lost their sure touch when it comes to writing anthems for all those who grin bleakly in the face of adversity. They wrap up with 'Dread The Day The Cities Rise', and even if you've never heard the song, you can guess at the way its B-movie thrills build to a neat climax. Nice one, lady and gentlemen. Definitely worth getting dismembered for.

 

Essential links:

The Ghost Of Lemora: Website | Myspace

Miguel And The Living Dead: Website | Myspace

Violet Stigmata: Website | Myspace

All Gone Dead: Website | Myspace

 

For more photos from The Good Friday Dismemberment, find the bands by name here.

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