Yes that date is indeed Halloween and what better night is there to go to a gig like this? I was lucky enough to catch Alien Sex Fiend a couple of years ago on this witching night and it is the time for all the ghouls to come out, dress in black and get their Goth on, even if most of us actually do that all year round. Others certainly thought so too and the venue was completely sold out, with people outside trying to swap their upstairs tickets for the dance floor and with the annoying touts (who if it would have been the oh so important Olympics would have been arrested) attempting to make a killing at genuine fans expense. It was a slight case of déjà vu as we had been here before but not since August 2008 when the band played two nights here (you have the DVD and CD more than likely). As fans we wondered what had changed in that time and the answer as we would discover is not that much. Still with the years that I have been going to see the Fields in London one thing is certain, headline dates are getting further and further apart and most here would certainly have looked upon tonight as an event rather than a mere gig.
First there is the question of support and I wish we could have done as well as Leeds the night before and got two acts from back in the day as they had Salvation and Anne Marie Hurst. We were told it was going to be female fronted prog act Purson here tonight but on arriving discovered instead that it was going to be Jordan Reyne who I had never heard of. Apparently this New Zealand born singer guitarist played a cross between neo folk, acoustic, gothic orientated and industrial and I was told on good authority that she has a voice that captivates and gets you obsessive over her material. I only caught a few songs due to the rigmarole of camera policy at the venue but what I heard could only support what I was told. For one person on such a massive stage to captivate such a large crowd she must have been doing something right. One microphone was not enough for her voice she needed two as well as more than the one guitar. There was a lot of effects sampled too so there was plenty going on when she was not in her more singer / song writer acoustic mode. Apparently a lot of themes that Jordan centres on involve the Industrial Revolution, giving her a bit of a steam punk following and one track which was dedicated to those from Wales ‘Factory Nation’ clanked and toiled with a hefty working with iron and steel vibe about it. The audience who let’s face it were here for one thing only were respectfully quiet during the softer moments only to give big applause out between songs. Obviously Jordan is worth investigating more as far as I am concerned.
So We Nephilim! The set list was before me, I could not resist looking! There was plenty old, nothing new, nothing borrowed and no blue (water) sorry! You get the point though; this could have been the gig of four years ago, no new material! Not that was of huge concern as the glistening ‘Shroud’ cut through the air to huge applause and the players strode and strummed onto the stage. They had their spotlight and stood in position Gav King on stage left with his recognisable dreadlocks now very much solidified as a band member, Lee Newell hidden behind the kit and stage right The Baron and more recent recruit Snake (to give them their stage names). Off course the one constant was yet to make his appearance and the unmistakable (although many were dressed like) Carl McCoy waited until it was time for him to literally burst ‘Straight Into The Light’. The crowd behind me were off, you could feel them stomp and you could also hear many taking part with the soaring chorus of the number, none louder or more magnificent than the singer on the stage though. Saying vocals hit the rafters is all too easy a thing to describe the effect but here with the roof so far above us it was pretty damn impressive and with people decking the various tiers of the venue it really was a spectacle and I can see why the band chose to come back here.
The set list had looked a bit on the short side but it went momentarily out the window for Trees Come Down, which was not listed. This old classic was gratefully received by us all and with the rather unsettled weather around the world at the moment let us hope it does not become a well known theme for things to come. Here it was as ever perfect, a powerful song with a huge surging fervour behind it and one that always got the dance floor in a fury. Shortly after I found myself gone from the best seat in the house out the door and back in at the very rear of the venue. Pint ordered I watched through the gap as the band were spread out before me in almost perfect widescreen, bathed in blood red to boot. We swayed to the warm grip of ‘Love Under Will’ and worked our way in meeting people on route who had not been seen for a long time, this band always reunites. With the wail of the Harmonica Man however it was a call for the now aged gunslinger in me to get back on his horse and join in at the heart of things the pit. Human pyramids were not being built to any degree yet but large and bald bare chested men were competing in that old age ritual as the Preacher Man rode into town. It was all incredibly good natured though and everyone looked after each other. The craggy voice was the power and the chant worked us into a fury; that chorus always was a call to arms. A newer number (ha it’s only 23 years old) Psychonaut shows the band at their most reflective and shoe gazing, it had us able to gather more than a breath as it caressed and put us in a trance. It was pretty damn transcendental and had arms held aloft and people in a daze before dropping us back into reality and allowing crowd pleaser Moonchild to again put us through the motions.
I love the way the stage was bathed in orange for Mourning Sun it was a veritable tangerine dream to behold and put us again in place of adoration. The pyramids got to tier three for the first time and trembled under the glow and everyone again sang to the anthem like chorus. Wonderful, but was that it? We muttered and stomped the ground but that was it as far as the set list was concerned, an hour was all we were getting. We need new life we need new songs were the words stabbed into my note pad in frustration and indeed we do, certainly before the next headlining date surely? Having said that will it mean another gap of years? The band loomed forth again, all thoughts of new material were gone as the notes summoned a very apt ‘Last Exit For The Lost’ a song that starts slow, brings you in, builds up and then tears you to pieces. What a glorious way to end it and let’s hope it is not the last caress. Until next time then…….
Review and Photos Pete Woods