After five years Laibach were returning to Glasgow, it was unexpected as I had started planning the trip to see their London show. However they were returning to the same venue as last time, it's a good place to see Laibach perform and location next to Central Station couldn't be easier to get to. Inside the venue the stage was all set and ready to go, at the back of the hall had the impressive merchandise stall. Some items had been sold out so it was mainly serving as a display model for their online store. One item, cigarette case covers, caught my attention and not being a smoker I was failing to see the point until someone pointed out that with many countries making cigarette packets plain it was actually a good idea. Shortly after 8pm we could sense that the show would be starting soon and the hall had pretty much filled up. The lights went out, soon Luka Jamnik and Rok Lopatic walked onto the stage and the show began with their variation of Grieg's unfinished opera 'Olav Tryggvason', a work named after a Viking king. Last year Laibach had been commissioned to create their interpretation of the opera as part of the Norwegian Constitution Bicentennial. This would be the first time I get to hear it properly so I was very eager to see it being performed live. It started slowly with industrial ambient music while computer generated images played out on the backdrop screen. The music continued to build slowly; soon Mina and Milan entered onto the stage and began singing at certain stages as the images on the screen got more complex such as the wireframe model of a Viking longboat. The music became more classical, enhanced with electronic and industrial samples, if not singing Milan and Mina would stand absolutely still like ceremonial guards. The climax was building up and just as I thought it was turning into trance techno, instead it quickly transformed into something that sounded very like the music from Enya, this was compounded by the wild coastal scenes on the screen. The song also gained some added drama from the drummer with larges cymbals and the music became more pomp opera before rounding off with an operatic choir. It was very impressive and a real treat to hear it live for the first time.
'Olaf Tryggvason Poem' ended and 'Eurovision' started up with its ominous tones and this began the Spectre section of the show. One year on, the song is now even more relevant as Europe is surrounded by serious turmoil in the Middle East and in North Africa, now also on the eastern borders with the Ukraine situation. The financial crisis continues to simmer and fault lines across Europe becomes more obvious and problematic. The politicians meanwhile instead of rising to the challenge are mostly playing political games and becoming ever more detached from the people they represent. Eurovision certainly captures the despondent mood many feel.
'Walk with me' invoked images of North Korea mainly through the background video with the distinctive marching style. It was quite ironic to think that Laibach may be visiting the country soon, apparently much less bureaucracy involved than touring the USA. 'No History', 'The Whistleblowers' and 'Koran' followed. 'The Whistleblowers' is a big favourite for me and probably most Laibach fans going by the reaction of the audience. The first half of the show was brought to an end with 'Resistance is Futile' then the band left the stage as the ten minute intermezzo break began its countdown. The screen image promoted joining the Spectre Party that was launched on the release of the Spectre album, a party meeting is planned to take place in Trbovlje in the summer of this year.
The next part of the show was the remaining tracks from Spectre mixed in with some cover version such as 'Ballad of a Thin Man' and 'B Mashina'. On resuming the show Laibach introduced a new cover version of Jeanne Moreau's 'Each man kills the thing he loves' which is from the film 'Querelle' directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was a song I have heard many times in the past, notably a version by Death in June, however didn't expect to hear Laibach singing it although the film director's work had caught Laibach attention in the early 80's but Laibach had actually created their version on request for Milo Rau's theatre production The Dark Ages which would open in Munich in 11th April, 2015. Milan left the stage just before 'Eat Liver' started up giving Mina more room to manoeuvre around stage as she delivered; he returned just in time to take part in 'Bossanova'. The Spectre album has given Laibach a number of tracks that could be good live material for years to come, notably 'The Whistleblowers' and 'Resistance is Futile'. The cheesy electronic compere introduced last year was present again tonight though seemed a little less active this time round. This section of the show was rounded off with 'See that my Grave is kept clean'.
Two encores followed, the ever-present 'Tanz mit Laibach' and two songs from Opus Dei, the album that some would say made Laibach's breakthrough and brought the band to a much wider audience. Milan is the main singer for 'Geburt einer Nation' while Mina dominates on 'Leben heisst Leben', the last track to bring the concert to an end. The crowd was in good form and it was a great show from Laibach who delivered a longer set than usual, nearly two hours, with a good mix of tracks and a real highlight in 'Olav Trygvason'. There are some intriguing projects lined up for the near future despite the very challenging conditions of the music industry in recent times however Laibach are survivors and will find a way.
Olav Trygvason (Edvard Grieg)
Walk with Me
Resistance Is Futile
Each man kills the thing he loves
We Are Millions and Millions Are One
Ballad of a Thin Man
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Geburt einer Nation
Tanz mit Laibach
Leben heisst Leben