Friday 3rd November found me at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton to cover the last gig of THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE’s ‘Under Your Spell’ tour, one that has taken them far and wide on both sides of that ocean we like to call the pond. I’ll be clear, I’ve always been aware of Canada’s TBM, I have played them in my DJ sets and own a few CDs from their career, though it has to be said my music tastes generally pull me in noisier and less melodic directions. The other thing that I have been aware of for some time, is that TBM fans LOVE their band, I mean really love them. There is a tangible excitement and glee amongst those already in the venue and those queueing outside in the damp and cold too. Rarely these days do you encounter an alternative band like TBM who evoke such a passion amongst their following. So, after buffing up on my knowledge of all things violet, I enter the venue with note pad and Dictaphone in one hand, camera and my white cane in the other., the results of which are as follows:
Firstly, I managed to gain some pre gig time with Chibi (vocals) and Rainbow (guitars/programming/vocals) where I quizzed them on an array of topics. They were utterly charming and personable, another one of a myriad of reasons why their fans are so dedicated. Keep an eye out for the audio interview appearing soon where we talked about the tour, the recent ‘Under Your Spell’ album, Chibi’s broken elbow, colour theory, Clive Barker and which Metallica cover version they may or may not do in the future….
On to the main event. I am going to do this a little differently. TBM are a very visual band and as such I am going to let my blind guy pictures do quite a bit of the talking. I was sans photo pass, so apologies for the less than perfect angles and focus, but I still feel I captured the spirit quite well.
First up on stage were THE KILLBRIDES who hail from Birmingham and Rugby. Now these two finely presented fellows have clearly studied hard at the school of Robert Smith and Siousxie Sioux. Expect distressed combs and empty hairspray cans back stage. They undeniably cut cool silhouettes as they deliver their take on post punk electronic goth, which to me owes much to Cure during their more electronic era. Credit to The Killbrides though for some nifty programming and songwriting that provides their set with a fresh edge that prevents them from sounding merely retro. The singer does need to curb his enthusiasm for clapping with the microphone a little as I imagine the sound engineer wanted to throttle him as the resultant booms threatened the speaker cones…
Main support on this leg of the tour came from LESBIAN BED DEATH, a band that somehow my
own band have never shared the stage with despite moving in the same circles for many years and being based only a town apart. They have clearly been having a whale of a time on tour with TBM which gives them a very relaxed and jovial stage presence, handling technical hitches with humour and inter band teasing. They are even joined on stage by Nate from TBM for their final number. Clearly some inter band bonding has taken place. Musically they are in essence a very rock and roll band. Their sound is embellished with some electronic programmed elements that were perhaps a little low in the mix tonight, and hints of punk and goth give their music a darker edge. Think AC/DC with a sprinkling of Danzig and Mr Manson. Essentially though Lesbian Bed Death are about fun, albeit slightly morbid fun.
The support acts have done their jobs as the crowd are energised and poised in anticipation for the arrival of all six of THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE on stage. Once they do, potential energy becomes kinetic as both the band and punters explode into life. This is the first time I have seen the band play live, and it is also the last night of the tour, which means emotions might be running high for the band. Then again, maybe they always pour this much emotion and energy into their shows, which would be another of those reasons why their fan base loves them so. Seven albums and an 18 year existence have allowed them to hone their sound, a mixture of synthwave, goth and metal, to a lean and mean outfit. They deliver their set flawlessly and emotively, including the classics you’d expect (‘One’, ‘Superstition’, ‘Pins and Needles’, ‘In The Dark’) along side a healthy number of cuts from ‘Under Your Spell’. By the end of the encore the band all appeared to be on top of the world, especially Chibi who emotionally embraced every other band member she could get her hands on. Clearly a family, TBM left the stage while a very appreciative audience left their violet shadow to return to the damp Wolverhampton streets.