The O2 forum in the Kentish Town area of London used to be Town and Country club, where Laibach had last played way back in 1988. The stage was all ready by time the doors had opened and there was no support band. In the past Laibach have occasionally liked to use torturous noises in their pre-show music as some kind of audience conditioning, tonight they went overboard and used the soundtrack from the Hollywood film 'The Sound of Music' on a loop for nearly 90 minutes.
The show kicked off 8.30pm, I was expecting Olav Trygvason but quickly realised it was Smrt za Smrt. This early Laibach song had been revisited and now that has also been reworked into a longer and more experimental version. Possibly a result of their collaboration with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra and composer Anže Rozman who joined Laibach in Brussels earlier this year for a special performance marking the occasion of the 2016 Green Capital of Europe Award being presented to the city of Ljubljana. The Laibach musicians, minus the singers, walked on stage and began the extended intro, a fusion of classical and industrial elements as it builds toward the main body at which point Milan and Mina arrived on stage. It was follow by Ti Ki Izzivas though not reworked to the same extent as Smrt za Smrt. It reminded many of us that we are still waiting for the Revisited album. Unfortunately the market is not encouraging for music to be released on CD, a lot of companies such as Google (notably with YouTube) or Apple (many say it was the iPod that saved Apple) have made a lot of money from the music world but have put very little back in return while the outcome of their products has reduced the revenue artist can make from their work. The large merchandise stall suggests that selling t-shirts could be earning a better return for Laibach than the CDs. Laibach have always been adaptable to a challenging environment but the fans are certainly missing the opportunity to buy the music. The show moved on with two tracks from the WAT album both neatly fitting the current situation in Europe and contributing overall to a more forceful performance. The show moved onto material from Laibach's last studio album with songs such as Eurovision adding to the problematic Europe theme we were getting from the set. Later on in the evening Laibach performed Anglia which they've not done for a while and as far as I can tell didn't feature elsewhere on this particular tour. It did look like Laibach's reaction to the UK's forthcoming EU vote which would certainly add to Europe's problems if the vote results in the UK leaving. The first section of the show ended with Resistance Is Futile, one of Spectre's best tracks and excellent to see and hear live.
After a 15 minute intermezzo break Laibach returned with The Sound of Music material. The songs are actually quite recognisable from the originals (I could tell this for sure having heard all the pre-show music) though they do have a lot of Laibach elements. Quite understandable as Laibach were taking this to North Korea where it was one of few pieces of western music they were quite familiar with it so it wouldn't really have worked if Laibach had transformed it into something quite different. The music is softer and not at all bombastic, the Slovenian group Silence were also involved with this project and their input is quite noticeable. Boris, the singer with Silence, also appeared on stage usually in place of Mina although at one point we had all three singers on stage for the performance of Warszawskie dzieci, a track from the 1 VIII 1944. Warszawa EP. Boris returned later in the main encore with Anglia. Meanwhile Laibach played more tracks from Spectre including the excellent The Whistleblowers along with their cover of Bob Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man.
The first encore began with another Sound of Music track, My Favourite Things softly sung by Milan alone with a children's choir backing track and as with the other Sound of Music tracks the background video had a Korean theme. Followed with Anglia with the provocative original promotional video playing on the background screen then it was onto Life is Life and Leben heisst Leben as one track, they didn't quite merge the two songs together a little surprisingly given that both songs had the same root, instead it suddenly flipped from Life to Leben. Laibach came back for a second encore with their cover of Each Man Kills rounding off the concert.
It was quite a show in London, even with some of the softer more and delicate material it was overall very much a return to a more energetic and forceful performance. Good mix of material with excellent sounds and a great performance by the band even with Rok Lopatic occasionally banging the keyboard like a two year old on Smrt Za Smrt. There was a lot going on, we even had samples from Margaret Thatcher and the cheesy robotic compere popped over the loudspeakers occasionally. It was a long show though it shouldn't have been too taxing for Laibach when they had three lead singers. Just one UK show for this tour, and with the next UK concert not expected until at least next year it would have been good to have some more music on CDs while we wait for their return.
Smrt za smrt
Ti, Ki Izzivaš
Now You Will Pay
The Great Divide
Walk with Me
Resistance Is Futile
The Sound of Music
Climb Ev'ry Mountain
We Are Millions and Millions Are One
Ballad of a Thin Man
My Favorite Things
Life Is Life / Leben heißt Leben
Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves