30 years of The Fiend, wow doesn’t time fly, like a bat! I have loved this band for a very long time myself and had been looking forward to this somewhat rare performance from the Fiend, one that was going to be a celebration and one that was going to be host to many of their great songs from the past as well as no doubt a smattering of newer ones. The group do not play that often and the last time I caught them was Halloween 2010. Speaking of which on entering the venue from the freezing cold outside it looked like some crazed decorators had been in. The stage looked absolutely fantastic, dressed to the hilt with the accoutrements of the Fiend’s stage show. It was littered with webs and bones and bins and dolls and all manner of ghastly things that were no doubt going to be put to use later. I have fond memories of being almost brained by a plastic bone launched off the stage at the Whitby Dracfest back in (apparently) 1997.

Before the main event though we needed warming up and this was down to some guy called Neville from Punishment Of Luxury, so Neviluxury then! He had his guitar and a few songs for us and from the second he took the stage the dry ice went into overdrive and did not stop all night. Swamped he may have been but at least we could hear his quirky, poetic and somewhat humorous tunes. I profess to not having encountered his main band at all before but I really should have done as they have been around for decades themselves. One song was about gluttony apparently and had a rousing “I’m an animal” chorus that had us tapping feet along and apparently ‘Kiss The Reptile’ was about the book the singer, song writer is at work on. There was a definite post punk feel about this and a song about a girl dying on the streets of Camden town (probably frozen) was particularly poignant. Although it was obvious that the audience were really here for the one act they all seemed to politely enjoy things as the crowd grew in size.

Alien Sex Fiend kept us waiting bloody ages. Apparently they were playing two sets (well in fact they did not take a break) and there was going to be a lot of classics in the first part. We also heard they were playing for 3 hours, if they did I missed the last half hour of the set as it was 9.15 when they finally came on and last trains end early. It was all worth it as they finally came on and the speakers pumped out the beats. We were dropped in Siberia as the words from Nik instantly had us identifying the first number ‘Ignore The Machine’ Although it was a bit of a pain seeing what was going on (and photographing it) what we could see through the Guinness Book Of Records dry ice award attempt was the top hatted singer prowling around the front of the stage. To our stage left was Mrs Fiend manning the controls and hitting some sub atomic frequencies that had the ears popping. To our right were two blood splattered lab technicians seemingly, one also behind a bank of controls the other with a guitar. The sound it has to be said was fantastic, the clarity of it all brilliant. I wish this venue had a few more things on; it is years since I have been here, last witnessing the foul stench of Watain.

Things were bouncing us about like a spring loaded, booby trapped trampoline and it did not take much to get the crowd dancing away to the songs that we all knew and loved. Strobes and pastel lights mesmerised us and massive bursts of pulsating energy blew out the speakers and to cap it all the singer decided to roll around the stage, not acting his age in the slightest. For every up there is a down but ‘Manic Depression’ yep some of us do get it every day had me grinning like a loon. I had a sudden shock standing at the front of the stage, it’s probably not right to share the fact that I suddenly had the surprise of somewhat warm genitals but I realised that I was standing in front of the vent where the dry ice pumped out from and it was like a having a fast working hand drier toasting the nads! Oh well Perhaps I should have moved but…..

One of the strangest of many strange songs from the group’s repertoire is certainly It (would have loved Camel too) and Nik got his big book of It out and got down to It telling us all about It. If you don’t know what the hell I am talking about you best look It up! Was It childish poetry or was It an early form of Haiku? I liked It anyway. We had been told to expect some numbers that had not been played in many a moon and one I cannot even remember if I have ever heard live was ‘In And Out Of My Mind’ wow, was really not expecting that and indeed it is still there, working its way around what little mind I have left. The depressive, repetitive beats backed up the ghostly pulsating atmosphere nicely.

Nik took brief time out to thank us all for coming and as ever acted with a noticeable humble demeanour as chuffed as we were that they were still doing this after three decades. Did someone put some drugs somewhere? I have to admit the twist they put on ‘Isolation’ was unexpected and it was injected with PCP from the slow normal gait of the song into something mutated and simply rampant.  In fact what I first thought was this was newer number ‘Dance Of The Dead,’ so obviously it span my head out. White noise and full on epilepsy inducing strobes took us to another dimension, as it followed ‘I Walk The Line’ we suddenly found ourselves no longer balancing on it but falling right off. I say it again but no other word can sum it up better that “wow!”  “Bats In The Belfry, meet me at the altar, like a little lamb lead me to the slaughter. “ Did anyone here not know the words to Attack? Doubtful by the sound of it and if the band had an anthem would it possibly be their Bela Lugosi? I think it is very likely and judging by the reaction it was a song we expected and the one that ASF probably could not have got away leaving out their set. We seriously did the bossanova!

An inflatable banana made its appearance and did brisk business passed around the crowd (no not like that don’t be disgusting). I guess you had to be there or six feet under. Ah ‘Dead And Buried’ perfect!

After this it all went  big rave style, I seem to remember the band doing this before after a main set and really enjoyed it before I had to leave 20 mins or so into things. They had been playing without a pause for around 2 and a half hours so I didn’t feel cheated in the slightest. As it was so cold out it was time to wrap up well and errrr go and surreptitiously stand in front of that dry ice outlet again! Gig of the year!

Review and foggy photos © Pete Woods