"I Give You The Grateful Dead"
A set of live reviews from the bygone era of the 1990's

From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)

"Hatred is purity, weakness is disease"

Voivod 1998

As a longtime fan, finally getting to see French-Canadian thrashmetal legends Voivod play Oslo in '98, it was a truly awesome experience to witness their typically evolving futuristic angular and complex cybernetic metal sound having become quite gothic and sleek sounding in the presence of their then fairly new singer/bassist Eric Forrest, with their return to the brutal thrashmetal style of their early days recalling such classic LP's like "War And Pain" and "Killing Technology", a style indeed being very welcome after their far dreamier experiments with spacerock and psychedelia in the early 90's. The guitarist Piggy (Denis D'Amour) even played guitar with a raygun on stage! It made some great spacey effects, with Piggy's raygun effect also being used on their 1997 "Phobos" album of which this was the tour. I was quite aggressively moshing to their version of Syd Barrett's early Pink Floyd classic "Astronomy Domine" when they played it, getting kind of violent with this dude whom I'd previously met at some other metal shows before (Cathedral or Fu Manchu or somebody, damned if I can remember...).

After the band ended their set, I bought their latest CD and a European '97 tour shirt off the drummer, album artist and Voivod main man, Away (Michael Langevin) after the show, who otherwise proved to be quite talkative. Some local blackmetal band had opened the show, they were okay I guess, a crowd of very 'gothic' looking fans from outside the city had attended the spectacle just for them, but Voivod were completely insane and obviously the main attraction despite a very small stage for a band of their reputation. It's not too often you see so many mohawks pogoing or dreads popping up amongst your otherwise typically long-haired metal crowd, though a freak speed/thrashmetal act like Voivod more or less crossing over into hardcore or punk under the lack of anything else is more than obvious anyway. It was a great fucking night overall, and I didn't get too hammered, anyway.

Motörhead 1994

I first saw Motörhead at the Stone Pony in New Jersey in '94, and the main event of the night must have been when my girlfriend at the time, Dorothea, managed to get up on the stage and smooch with Sebastian Bach of Skid Row who was guesting for a song with the band. In a strange way, at first it almost bothered me a bit, because she'd disappeared on me for a long time, but afterwards I kinda thought it was rather cool because after some thought assumed that Sebastian Bach must have been one of her teen heroes as she was a big metalhead. I'd even gotten her to mooch an autograph off Lemmy who was playing pinball and chatting with a crowd of fans before the show, and I managed to ask him a couple of questions about his early days with Hawkwind which he somewhat evasively answered. Having seen Motörhead at least 5-6 times since, and I have to say as far as shows go it sticks in my head mostly as a "romantic" evening, seeing as the band weren't as fast and loud that night as they've been at every other show since I've seen ‘em, delivering their usual metallic assault of amphetamine driven rock'n'roll and souped-up biker metal with a slightly more "classic" sound than any of the later shows I've attended since.

More or less driven by that current superfast and pumped-up robotic bleach-blonde Swedish barbarian drummer who hammers through Motörhead's reportoire these days, their live energy today as ever probably being only comparable only to such latter day metal explosions like Bathory's "Armageddon" as a blistering tribute to a Motörhead classics like "Bomber", or the brutally breakneck-speed hardcore of early Discharge or the punk debauchery of Chaos UK owing some debt to Motörhead's "Overkill", a brand of heavy metal only to be belted out and equalled by someone like Judas Priest in their prime, a leather and spikes S&M metal-garage aesthetic forged with Larry Wallis' mid-70's Pink Fairies stint previous to Motörhead forming from the ashes of the Fairies and the remnants of Hawkwind in 1975. The band live today, as always exploding in a blitzkrieg of purely distilled rock'n'roll from the first moment Lemmy strums his bass to the very end of the usual two hour shows, Motörhead ultimately defining the pinnacle of classic British heavy metal, as dedicated headbangers are continuously being baptized in their shimmering and immortal rock'n'roll pyrotechnics and blistering white noise. Truly, Motörhead remain without a single doubt an essential band to experience live, regardless of whenever they next invade your area.

Hawkind 1995

When I witnessed the mighty, mighty Hawkwind play The Limelight in New York in '95, then as ever completely blown away by the British underground spacerock institution and heavy metal legends, I brought my friend and previous landlord, Larry, along. My Swedish girlfriend Jenny couldn't come along at the time anyway, so just us two took the the bus to the city out of New Jersey. We finally made it to The Limelight where I managed to pick up a couple of nice tour posters. One poster, a McCauley illustrated black & white psychedelic "eye-in-the-pyramid" photocopy gig poster, displayed, aside from the venues and dates, the current band lineup as well, which now mysteriously also included "Ron Bastard", who, at the time, I had no idea who the hell was. I soon found out after a bunch of ragtag acid jam and progrock bands opened the show, as the band's then new singer Ron Bastard (later Ron Tree) burst on to the stage wearing flight goggles and a psychedelic lab coat spattered with fluorescent paint, rabidly blurting out their notorious cosmic-metal classic "Master Of The Universe" at breakneck speed. A great way to open the show, it was otherwise a kickass energetic set which lasted for a good hour and a half, though we mostly sat up in the rafters smoking pot and enjoying the psychedelic lightshow.

Out of all the supporting acts, of which there must have been 5 or 6, I only seem to recall the pleasant psychedelia of Finally Balanced to be quite nice, while the awfully symphonic disaster idiot-progrock theatrics of Braindance was quite unbearably dreadful. However, after several Hawkwind classics like the rocked-out and radical garage-punk of "Urban Guerilla", the classic space-boogie of their massive '72 hit single "Silver Machine", their extended tranceout ode to hash and hashishins, "Assasins Of Allah", or the industrial drone and SF lyrics of "Robot", while at the very end, Hawkwind closed with a massive extended jam freakout, the soaring psychedelic instrumental "LSD" off 1992's "Electric Tepee" CD, proving that yet another mindblowing experience had been excercised on the mind, quite flawlessly too. Hawkwind always seem to have a great lightshow no matter what, in spite of limiting venue sizes, and it was nice seeing them in full blown action and performing at such a large venue for so many people. In fact, not having seen the Hawks play since Oslo, Norway, '91, it was quite a personal "return to form" on a Deadhead-type level, having also since acquired an excellent tape of the Limelight '95 show as well.

The Legendary Pink Dots 1998

When The Legendary Pink Dots played Oslo in '98 I went all by myself because nobody I had tried inviting wanted to come along for some reason, having in a bizarre last-minute rush of uninformed descriptive erroneously tagged them as somewhere between Laibach and Einstürzende Neübaten, hearing they were from the UK and Holland. So, beyond all expectations, they put on an utterly amazing show which really blew me away as I'd never heard them before at all. It was a truly psychedelic experience totally unheard, - seen or -experienced in similar form or fashion more or less since seeing Hawkwind for the first time in '91, the band sounding not so much like industrial rock, really, but more like an almost gothic or new wave sounding Gong.

Anyway, I eventually got to stand way up front with my beer so I could zone out to the fantastic lightshow. Some guy was filming the gig there, bathing in all the colors. The barefooted mainman, Edward Ka-Spel's feet really stunk, unless it was just his body odor, as he was really sweating out the lyrics in the blistering heat of the strobe and swirling kaleidoscope of lights. I didn't know any of the songs at the time, but it kicked ass nonetheless, Ka-Spel sometimes sauntering over to twiddle a second synthesizer facing Silverman's keyboard, the generally playful and mystical psychedelia building to a sinister climax or extending into longer spacerock jams. The band had an excellent sax player as well, casting himself as a similar figure to someone like Nik Turner. The high point of the night had to be the song about Y2K which was very theatrically performed, at the end everything violently crashed into a blistering chaos of electronic and metallic noise, gradually dissolving into stray blips and random signals seemingly flung into space after the band had left the stage.

Indeed, not forgetting, the opening one-man band featuring the Canadian drummer Ryan Moore was so over-the-top bizarre I almost had multiple acid flashbacks, the guy sounding like an improvised dub-reggae butchery of The Ozric Tentacles as conducted by a mad drummer fronting as a comedian of sorts, playing with these maddening noise gadgets and strutting about in a red feather boa.

Eventually, after The Legendary Pink Dots had shadowly sauntered off the stage in a mist of smoke and lights, I had my last beer of the night, sticking around for abit to watch the crowds and browse some merchandise, despite being completely broke, having only enough for the bus fare home. I was quite shockingly very surprised to see a colleague of mine from work there, revealing himself as a diehard The Legendary Pink Dots fan of many years. It was a bit strange that I didn't already know he was a fan, as I would have asked him about the band or about going to the show, had I thought of asking him at work earlier the same day, but he was there with his girlfriend, carrying out some kind of survey or something for the band's mailing list. I eventually left the venue in a very unnatural, though comfortably elated haze, and have since become something of a fan, I suppose.

Reviewed by Charlie Yuga

Click your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page.
Or CLICK HERE to return to the main Aural Innovations page.