PHOTO CREDITS: ADRIENN PUCHER PHOTOGRAPHY
**ALL IMAGES ARE THE PROPERTY OF ADRIENN PUCHER PHOTOGRAPHY AND DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO INFO@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM**
In the run up to Christmas some bands like to treat their fans to a special show or two. Tonight the O2 Forum, Kentish Town hosts just such a special show. However, this is not merely a Christmas gig, this is SATURNALIA, the exclusive 2017 performance from Fields of The Nephilim, and it seems every old-school goth in London has descended on the Forum tonight.
Opening the evenings proceedings, Salvation make a rather unremarkable entrance with the full house lights still on. “Merry Christmas,” vocalist Daniel Mass tells the sparsely filled forum, “thanks for coming early - we hope it's worth it”. Looking rather under-dressed for the occasion, Salvation are not exactly showmen (frankly the band look bored), and even with two guitars their sound is oddly flat. That said, they do have a decent post punk almost indie vibe and some upbeat songs to match. As the hall fills up so too the crowd warms up and the breezy rock hop of ‘Tell Me Something’ gets the front row moving. They end their set with a tribute to one of their musical heroes; the late Tom Petty - a sped up punk style cover of ‘Listen To Her Heart’ ties things off nicely.
Follow the band:
Next up are fellow veteran goth rockers Skeletal Family and it only takes a few songs to see that they are a much better fit for this crowd. Vocalist Anne-Marie Hurst looks and sounds similar to Siouxsie Sioux with a flash of bright red hair. While her voice is not particularly strong she does engage the black clad masses from the very start.
The humming bass and guitar of `She Cries Alone` sounds similar to David Bowie’s `Scary Monsters and Super Creeps` while `Last Train` sound just right for a mid 80s disco with its and they get a warm response from the crowd. `Hands On The Clock` lands in a solid space between goth and post-punk.
Finishing their set with the fast paced thrumming guitar riff of `Promised Land` finishes their all too brief set. The band take a well earned bow and now almost full Forum shuffles to the bar as the main event is about to unfold.
Skeletal Family Are:
Stan Greenwood – Guitar
Roger ‘Trotwood’ Nowell – Bass
Anne Marie Hurst – Vocals
Adrian Osadzenko – Drums
Follow the band:
Emerging through a haze of smoke and dry ice, The Fields of the Nephilim enter to the ominous chords of ‘Dead But Dreaming’ - from the outset they take total command of their audience. Dressed in his usual style of Gravedigger goes Steampunk, vocalist Carl McCoy is an impressive presence on stage.
The hypnotic swirling guitars of ‘DawnRazor’ fill up the room while the drums pound out like distant thunder. This isn't the New Wave goth of The Cure - The Nephilim find and hunt down a set of rhythms so heavy and repetitive they sound almost tribal while they balance them with the lightest of melodies - it’s mesmerising. Drummer Lee Newell deserves a special mention - his playing is heavy and yet so groovy it’s truly remarkable.
The bass heavy build up to ‘Love Under Will’ is one of their best songs and the crowd lap it up, with one brave/dedicated soul near the front row singing the whole song while standing on the shoulders of his fellow concert goers!
‘Moonchild’ is propelled by a stellar rhythm and it really gets the crowd moving. By the time the drums start rolling in ‘Psychonaut’ the whole standing room is swaying with hands held aloft - this is a proper gothic mass. The crowd lifts and holds a man on their palms while the vibrations seem to flow through the crowd.
With simple white light flashing to being bathed in purple rays they have mastered their stage & use it like their own theatre production .This is a genuinely immersive experience with the band drifting in and out of view through the smoke.
Dare I say it that you can see how contemporary bands like Ghost have been influenced by their stage presence. There are no tongue in cheek jokes here though - the band never say a word to their audience and frankly they don't need to.
The power and sheer heavy groove of their performance is immense and by the time of the encores it’s hard to imagine another band in their genre delivering such a focused show. ‘Last Exit For The Lost’ ripples across the crowd before the fast paced climax. The band return for a triumphant 2nd encore of ‘Celebrate’ before they make their final exist into the night.
Leaving the venue I chat with some old-school fans - people who have been going to see The Nephilim since before your humble writer was even born. I’m told by some of them that this is the best the band have sounded in over 20 years, and who am I to argue! A genuinely impressive performance from masters of their genre. Until Saturnalia 2018 then.
Fields Of The Nephilim are:
Carl McCoy - Vocals
Gavin King - Guitars
Lee Newell - Drums
Tony Pettitt - Bass
Andy James – Guitars
Follow the band:
(Dead but Dreaming)
At the Gates of Silent Memory
Love Under Will
Zoon (Part 3) (Wake world)
Vet for the Insane
Last Exit for the Lost