Last night we crossed the border into south London to catch the Goth triple bill at the Brixton Academy. Getting there was an adventure in itself as London Transport had closed the Victoria Line for ‘essential maintenance’ , so we had to catch one of the two trains every hour from Victoria main line station. It had been a long time since we had last been to the Academy, so we followed some Goths until we found the end of the queue snaking two sides around the block from the venue.
By the time we got inside Gene Loves Jezebel had almost finished their set. I had only a passing acquaintance with the band in the mid eighties and never got to see them live. Still sharp of cheekbones if not as luxuriant of hair , Jay Aston and crew knocked out a few familiar numbers before finishing on Desire, mine and the gradually increasing crowd’s favourite number.
Dry ice, stetsons, dust coats and guitars, it could only be The Fields of the Nephilim. I always thought they were one of the more interesting goth bands with their Sergio Leone derived image and the Morricone inspired music. More ugly prog goth than pretty boy wasted goth. By Preacher Man the crowd were going nuts, forming human pyramids and idiot dancing as the bass notes reverberated up my spine. I like to say it took me back to my misspent youth, only I was about 30 when this came round the first time!
The mayhem continued with Moonchild, Psychonaut and a Last Exit for the Lost that would have rivaled peak period Hawkwind for its hypnotic trance like intensity. Guitars bass and drums with Carl McCoy swinging the mike stand and shouting over the top, it was rock music as it’s meant to be that still stands up pretty well twenty odd years later on.
I wish it could have been the same for The Mission. Two numbers from their crap (post the Children album) period was not the best way to start the set. Things got a momentarily better with The Serpent’s Kiss,
which still sounded fab, but a lot of the material hadn’t dated well. Don’t get me wrong it was still good to hear Wasteland, Severina and Garden of Delight, but whereas the Nephilim were as good, if not better than I have ever seen them before, the Mission were not a patch on what they were like in those heady days of 1987-88. Maybe things got better with the encore, but we had to leave to catch our train, how very un Rock’n’Roll.
The Brixton Academy is an interesting building. It was built in 1929 as a theatre and cinema, The Astoria and it still retains much of its Art Deco interior and a sumptuous Moorish proscenium arch. As the Brixton Sundown it was where Hawkwind recorded part of the classic Space Ritual set in 1972. Shame it has such an expensive bar and woefully inadequate and quite disgusting toilets though.