Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Laibach, Live at the Gramercy Theater, NYC, May 12th, 2015

Firstly, I must admit that I've mostly lost track of Laibach since 2003's WAT album (and an excellent one at that!), so I was unsure of what to expect musically, however I did expect an impressive live presence. I was not disappointed!

Laibach are a Slovenian Electronic Rock group, highly political and associated with an art collective. I recommend checking out their website or wikipedia page for further info. Laibach are often fiercely ambiguous in their political leanings, employing both far left and far right aesthetics, sometimes simultaneously, to produce an image that is both thought-provoking and amusing. As an example, one of the shirts available at the merch stand had the characteristic Laibach cross and cog symbol (influenced by the Suprematism movement), with this statement on the reverse: If you don't like our music, turn around for 360 degrees and go.

Laibach will (and have) used any available aspect of media/propaganda to promote their (confusing) ideals. For me, I find them to have an excellent sense of humor coupled with a serious socio-political agenda of getting people to think. Musically, they borrow aspects of neo-classical, EBM, martial drumming, industrial, Rock, ambient electronica (and more!).

From what was played of the new album, Laibach are currently embracing more of an ambient and synthpop sound, to me much like mid-to-late Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. Live, they delivered a stoic show, appearing militant in black clothing and standing completely still if not playing/singing. This again, much like Kraftwerk; I kept wanting to scream out "Die roboter! Die roboter!" Double projectors provided a backdrop to the songs. Overall, a very tight performance as the songs require careful timing, which was in turn synced with the lighting and projectors.

The set consisted of mostly Spectre material for almost an hour until the 10 minute 'Intermezzo' (complete with countdown clock), then moved into a mix of older album tracks for almost an hour. Scenes from the film Iron Sky were used for two songs (including, appropriately, "B Mashina"). Of note, Laibach performed the score for this amusingly absurd film (recommended for you cheese fans out there!). After a brief pause, Laibach returned yet again to the stage for an encore of "Leben Heisst Leben," "Geburt Einer Nation" and "Tanz Mit Laibach."

While the whole band was excellent, and Milan Fras' stage presence was exactly as I had hoped, Mina Špiler stole the show with her superb and energetically delivered vocals. Her stage presence was also remarkable; she can easily switch from animated to statuesque.

So, long story short, support Laibach to put them in every city and a chicken in every pot!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

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