Another Friday night, another sold out show by the ever reputable Old Empire. This time they’re bringing experimental/drone trio, Locrian, across the Atlantic from the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago for their first live performance in London.
Opening proceedings is Birmingham’s Khost. Originally a two piece, they appear on stage tonight with a third member. Unfortunately, it’s not a drummer, so there’s still a pre-recorded backing track doing much of the heavy lifting in terms of percussion and vocals. Dark and evil tribal sounds weave their way through tectonic shifts of blackened industrial beats to make for a truly punishing performance. It would be nice if more of this were played live, however.
Next up are London ‘necrotronic’ veterans, Necro Deathmort, an inspired choice of support act as blinding stage lights flash and change colour to a backdrop of wall to wall noise. The Black Heart is transported from backstreet Camden boozer to industrial warehouse as the pairing unleash pummelling riffs, breakbeats and dub that goes together in a harmony that never drifts into the territory of sounding like a Godflesh or Nine Inch Nails rip off. Matt and AJ’s pairing encompasses a unique universal appeal that allows the audience to headbang or dance, depending on their preference.
Headliners, Locrian, take on an entirely different dimension within a live setting – losing much of the polish that comes as standard with record production quality, they sound almost like shoegaze and it’s wonderfully cathartic. Terence stands behind a hefty stack of synthesisers and keyboards, creating a dreamy atmosphere that’s occasionally torn through by the piercing screams of his vocals which sit on a spectrum that’s comparative to those of Liturgy or even Botanist. Even the keyboards occasionally take on the tones of a hammered dulcimer – it’s impossible not to be captivated by what’s going on on this particular side of the stage. André’s bass adds flesh to the bones of ethereal performance, holding it in place with tone and reverb. This is the welcome first appearance of a real life drummer tonight, in the form of Steven Hess, providing a shimmering backdrop of hi-hat and cymbal strokes. A gorgeous and haunting performance that is undeniably suitable for the sudden cold that has settled over London. The only thing that could have improved this performance is a choice few audience members learning to shut the fuck up.
Review by Angela Davey