Trbovlje is not the easiest town to get to for foreigners unless driving a car, the train station in Trbovlje is a good few miles away from the main area and also the DDT venue. However Laibach had organised a minibus making the trip much more straight forward.
As we waited at the pick-up point a big fight broke out between two men passing by and for ten minutes we were in the middle of a serious row, were one guy was swinging a metal bar against a more aggressive individual. Our minibus driver tried to calm things down to no avail so the police were called and arrived very quickly; quite a contrast to back home where the police in Scotland like to take at least three days to attend incidents such as fatal car accidents. After the driver gave a statement to the police we could all set off for Trbovlje. The journey takes just under an hour with the road mostly running alongside the river Sava, it is quite a scenic route. Arriving at the DDT, having circled the venue three times for some reason, we were greeted by Star Wars storm troopers however it wasn't actually anything to do with Laibach instead it was a promotional stunt for an unrelated forthcoming event at the DDT. I remembered the venue well from last time, having spent 4 days there back in 2010 for Laibach's 30th anniversary. The large mosaic of Laibach crosses was present in the same position as if it had never been away, the Vier Personnen sculpture was in front of the mosaic having originally been on the roof back in 2010. A television crew was milling around and interviewing some of the fans. The usual merchandise stall was particularly busy so I checked it out later; when I did I noticed a new t-shirt design featuring the Murmansk Reindeer taken by Yevgeni Khaldev during WW2. The image was originally dug up by an American based Russian fan many years ago. She had thought it was quite a strong Laibachian image, now that thought was certainly vindicated as it is now an official Laibach t-shirt. Shortly before 8pm the door opened and we entered the cinema like hall where the stage was all set.
Many of us were intrigue to idea of Laibach re-interpreting the songs from the Sounds of Music and we didn't wait long as Laibach opened the set with Do-Re-Mi. The video screens played images and footage from North Korea, the singing was mainly from Mina and also Luka Jamnik whose voice was processed through a vocoder, eventually it was complimented by brief backing vocals from Milan who stepped onstage about halfway through. Despite the Laibach transformation it was still quite recognisable from the original. It was followed by Edelweiss with a Korean film playing on the screens, while the songs had clear Laibach elements you could also recognise the input from Silence from the previous collaborations on Volk and more recently with the Warszawa EP. Boris Benko took centre stage replacing Mina for the two other songs, The Sound of Music and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. It wasn't too astonishing that Laibach could turn their interest to the Sound of Music, the musical is based just across the border in Austria and Alpine music is also very much part of Slovenia's music scene. Later that night when we got to Mount Kum for the Spectre party, traditional Alpine music was playing through sound system. Of course The Sound of Music also had background elements that may make you analyse or debate to whether Laibach are sending subliminal messages. Another intriguing new track was called 'Jutri gremo v napad', performed by Boris and Milan. The title suggests it may be a reworking of a Yugoslavian resistance song, the background video had North Korean propaganda images alongside some similar Yugoslavian propaganda.
The bulk of Spectre was part of the set with three exceptions, Americana, Eat Liver! and quite surprisingly Eurovision, it had seemed appropriate to play this track with Greece going through turmoil and were voting in an referendum the very next day however that vote later turned out to be meaningless. It was a bigger surprise to hear Final Countdown again, the last time I heard it live was in 1998 when they used guitars, this time it was all with synths. There was also a change in the back screen video which now had clips from the Iron Sky film rather the original promotional film featuring the NSK passports. Life is Life made a welcomed return, the song that drew many to Laibach and it was sounding fresh, revamped with electronic orchestration. The encore was brought to an end with Geburt Einer Nation. It was a great show and we were going to hear all again within half an hour. Normally it's at least a year between Laibach performances for me but not tonight. The second show was exactly the same performance, certainly an unusual experience even if it was the same show.
The concerts were a celebration of 35 years although it's a band very much looking to the future with new projects lined up and the headline-grabbing trip to perform in North Korea. After the second performance we were soon transported up to Mount Kum, which was half an hour away. Mount Kum was very familiar having featured in many of Laibach's film and photo shoots. Next to the recognizable church was the lodge where the barbecue was set up, music was playing and Laibach films were projected onto the side of the church buildings - not quite sure what was getting projected later that night but it wasn't Laibach related. A large birthday cake was presented for Ivan and Dejan to cut as happy birthday sang out, Dejan then took the knife and stabbed the black cross on the cake to amusement of those who had gathered round. It was also a very nice cake to eat. At 3pm those of us going back to Ljubljana set off in the minibus and arrived back in the city at 4.30pm.