Sunday 22 May 2016

Laibach – Cankerjev Dom, Ljubljana

[seen 09/05/16]

[EARWORM WARNING – although not as much as it is live]

“All art is subject to political manipulation, except for that which speak the language of this same manipulation”
Laibach, 1982

I wrote a *pretty comprehensive* introduction to Laibach for Exeunt when they played Tate Modern in 2012. What’s interesting, re-reading that piece now is how different this concert felt to the Tate Modern performance. Cankerjev Dom is a proper concert hall. A lovely modern/ist one, like the Royal Festival Hall, or the Barbican, or Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Imagine going to see Laibach at the Bridgewater Hall. Seated! And then, even better, imagine that the whole audience is a *completely normal* audience. From, like, 7 or 8 to 70 or 80. And just wearing regular clothes. I mean, sure, there were a couple of “fans” too, but in the main, this was just a regular cross-section of Ljubljana’s population going to see a concert. This amazed me. And it was *really lovely*. I mean, you know, Laibach are *quite extreme* musically. There were some moments of properly avant garde composer/industrial noise, along with the more poppy material.

Another big draw for this concert was thst they were also playing sections of the Sound of Music concert that they played in North Korea. You heard about this, right? Laibach – the art-rock-protest-subversive musical-wing-of-Slovenian-art-terrorists-NSK – were the first “Western” Rock Band ever to play in North Korea. And what they played was their versions of songs from The Sound of Music...

You’ve really got to love Laibach.

For this concert they offered a really great spread of material. Old stuff, new stuff (see top and bottom, from their magically-named 2015 album ‘Spectre’), The Sound of Music songs, and even an interlude where a guest vocalist performed tributes to David Bowie (‘This is Not America’) and Prince (‘When Doves Cry’), before helping out on another number from The Sound of Music, and buggering off.

If you’re a regular reader, then you might remember my musing about what would it feel like if you put the violent, caged energy of the Fat White Family in the National Theatre’s Dorfman space as Cleansed was. This wasn’t *quite* the answer. That Slovenian Iliad I loved so much at BITEF’15 also plays here, it’s not an entirely untheatrical space, and Laibach aren’t quite the same loping, lean, threatening presence as FWF any more. But, Christ, the music was properly loud. What you mostly feel like here is Pete Murphy off of Bauhaus in that Maxell advert.

Moreover, like Republika Slovenija, it’s joyously, angrily, mordantly capital-p Political. And Political on a global scale.

And it’s bloody glorious, frankly.

I should also add that it was sheer chance I happened to see this concert. We’d flown over a day early for the Mladinsko showcase because flights on Friday were too expensive, and were flying back on the Tuesday because Monday flights were also well over €100 dearer. We were sitting in the hotel when we arrived, looking at the Ljubljana guidebook and it had an advert in it. And there were two seats next to each other right slap bang in the middle of the stalls (for considerably less than a seat in the middle of the stalls at the NT, I should add.) Sometimes serendipity just happens, I guess.

And, yes, it’s possibly the best gig I’ve ever been to.

I know this isn’t really a review. It’s too late for it to be useful, and not quite distant or thought-about properly to really coalesce into a theoretical position.

Still, that’s the nice thing about blogs. You can just do this sometimes; put in “reviews” of things you just went to so you can remember them.

No comments: