I left the flat at about seven after some quick dinner, filled the tank and headed over to Glasgow. The trip was uneventful. I left the motorway at Charing Cross and headed up past the statue of Lobey Dosser on El Fideldo towards the University. I haven't been up that way in several years, so it was nice to reach GUU without getting lost. Left there, right at the corner and then I was looking for a parking space. Happily I found one just facing the end of University Drive. It was five past eight.
Five minutes later I was outside QMU and it was obvious someone was already playing. Very soon it was obvious that Laibach were already on and well into B-Machine, my favourite song off the new album. Arse. Worse than that, there was a queue outside and it was moving very slowly. I joined it, and it became obvious that the slowness was due to the fact that only two people were frisking everybody individually on the way in. It took another ten minutes to reach the front of the queue, and then . . . well, those of you that know me reasonably well will know that I don't travel light. My pockets were full of stuff, including various pills. We went through everything and the doorman told me to put the pills in the cloakroom. I told him that they were over-the-counter painkillers apart from the antibiotics, because I'd had root canal surgery the day before (which was the truth), but he was adamant. I shrugged and passed on, to find that the next stage was to fill in a temporary membership form. I showed them my Edinburgh Uni Union life membership card, but they weren't having that either.
So after all that, having missed twenty minutes already, did I go and put the pills in the cloakroom? Right you are - did I fuck. I was a little annoyed by this, as the QMU used to be a great place to see bands and I thought my evening might have been ruined. To be fair, it has been slightly infected by the current overcautiousness to the extent of having a six-foot gap between the stage and a crowd barrier ( we never had that sort of shite in my day - you could reach out and touch the band from the front row if you wanted) but actually after that point it hadn't really changed in any other important way. Nice-sized room, good crowd, good acoustics - I guess I'd still recommend it. But do turn up a few minutes early.
Anyway. Laibach. The stage was looking a little empty when I got there. They were on, as a standard 4-piece lineup, but the stage was obviously set up with space - and a snare drum and mike stand each - for two more. The drummer at the back seemed to be playing a partly electronic kit, and was simply in black trousers and Tshirt. the guitarist and bassist were wearing maroon jodhpurs and shirts with boots. The singer was wearing maroon trousers, with boots, a quilted waistcoat, leather floor-lenth apron and a leather hat, in his usual style - a skullcap with two flaps covering the back of his neck (is there a word for that flap?). Behind them film was being projected. Usually preposterously atmospheric film, as befits trheir schtick. Pictures from a recent 'Frisco gig can be seen here, if you can't picture that.
After a couple of songs, the singer went off and the remaining three played an instrumental. When he came back, he was accompanied by two young women (see those pictures again), each in boots (with a spare drumstick held in the straps at each side) and matching maroon jodhpurs, singlet and (I am not making this bit up) fez. The six then launched into Tanz mit Laibach. Somewhat disappointingly, the projector had the proper video rather than a bunch of trenchcoated kittens.
Those of you as have heard it will know that this song is a little on the stompy side, and with the extra people on stage it was certainly an involving spectacle. I enjoyed it a lot. I did wonder for a moment, though, whether the two drummer/singers were an entirely valid and worthwhile addition to the show or just a bit of added cheesecake. I think I come down on the valid/worthwhile side, but it's not a no-brainer - would I have liked their presence as much if I didn't think they were pretty? There's no reason in principle why they shouldn't have matching women doing that job - they had matching young men doing it the last time I saw them, and having extra people there drumming and singing definitely helped create the sense of political theatre they they aim for.
The show was mostly a run-through of stuff from the new album, and it was all very well done. They've been at this for over twenty years, and they put on an extremely slick show. It wasn't quite as dramatic as last time, because much as I like the QMU it isn't as photogenic inside as Islington Chapel. I recognised a lot of the songs, which I wasn't entirely sure I would as I haven't listened to the new one lately, and sang along to a few. After several songs, the singers left again for another instrumental, and when they came back the women had changed into skirts and wide belts to go with theiir vests. I don't know if you can see this on those photos, but the skirts and belts were mirror-image rather than identical, so that the belts fastened different ways and the skirts had sideslits on different sides (not revealing a hint of stocking top. Definitely not, and I wouldn't have noticed anyway). I was impressed by the attention to detail.
And by the stockingtopsThey had a range of choreographed drumming styles which would be difficult to describe properly, but they hit sticks together in cross shapes in front of the microphones, marched, hit their drums in various co-ordinated moves and later (after they'd let their hair down) stood back, leaned forward and held the drum with one hand while hitting it with the other, rather in the fashion of a socialist-realist picture of a blacksmith with an anvil.
The main singer was relatively static, often standing upright and sinister with his left hand on his hip and his other raised holding the microphone. His voice is still quite indescribable (and if you've not heard any Laibach, trust me - you should) and he's just as ominous a figure as before. There's less to be said about him, though, as he's a more stationary figure who events revolve around .
They finished at about quarter to ten (so that's an hour and three quarters onstage) and stood clapping while a tape of a Tanz mit Laibach remix played. The audience joined in, clapping in time, and the band left the stage in ones and twos. As the music played, and the audience gradually joined in with the clapping, it felt somewhere between a concert or rave and a totalitarian rally, which I guess is the effect they were aiming for.
I'd wondered whether I'd like them as much this time. I did.
There were various kent faces in the hall (Hi) and as I left I got leafletted by Danielle, who was out with Greig flyering for Bedlam. They didn't seem to recognise me and I didn't, under the circumstances, really want to say anything.
The trip back was mostly smooth. Bobby had mentioned a big smash on the eastbound motorway that he'd seen on the way over, which I hadn't notiiced. The M8 was, though, still closed eastbound between junctions 7 and 8, and I was diverted off for a few miles. That, and the tailback before the junction we were diverted off at, held me back a few minutes, but I was home in good time to get some sleep for this morning.
I believe that the singer from The Blue Nile is being interviewed on Radio Scotland at about half past eleven this coming Sunday. That's probably not of much interest to many of you, though.