VNV Nation – Of Faith, Power and Glory tour

There was a time when I disliked electronic music. Anything involving computers in the creative process was moneyspunk and distorted guitars were the only actual instruments capable of sounding enjoyable, except when your name was Nickelback. Much like feelings of bicuriosity, any positive thoughts provoked by techno were to be killed at birth to avoid cascading into hedonism.

And then VNV Nation came along. For the thick: VNV stands for “Victory, Not Vengeance” and the band consists of two members, originally from the UK and Ireland but now residing in Germany. If the one currently underneath your ass is your home planet, you might realize by now that Germany is one of, if not the most important source of techno music (with all its subgenres), and “the Queen’s” UK excels in thought-provoking context. Mix those together and you have poetry to a trance beat. Bring it live, and you’ve got VNV fucking Nation in Antwerp last night.

I’ll admit it from the start: I paid for my ticket. In fact, I did so no less than twenty minutes after I was informed (thanks Redrum) and got one extra for good measure. No one likes going to concerts alone. So, for a change I wasn’t there for professional reasons. I came with my sister solely to enjoy the show- and enjoy we did.

The support acts were um, a chick with a drummer and a nutcase with a drummer. Respectively, they were “not bad” and “not worth the hearing damage”. There.
Some might be surprised to see VNV appear with no less than four. They actually hire two extra musicians from the States to stand around behind their laptops, either providing tunes to the beat -delivered by Mark Jackson on electronic drums- or IM-ing youtube links to each other, it’s hard to tell. I suppose it keeps the others from having to press ‘play’ when then next song starts, like the aforementioned chick had to.
Ronan Harris in the mean time, does all the rest. And by that I mean singing, dancing, bouncing, running, yelling at every offbeat chance, and cracking jokes- oh my god, the jokes. He must have filled four songs worth of time with nothing but yakking in his microphone. Luckily he has a good sense of humor, but enough is enough.
I like him though, I really do. He shows intellect in his lyrics and explanations, and interacts with the audience on a much more personal level than most artists. He has conversations with individuals, and even grabbed the cell phone of someone wanting to share the experience, to hold it by his ear while singing. His strong personality contributes to the whole experience the way kerosene burns a candle.

The band’s music varies from slow pop songs to murderous hard-trance beats. The only constant is Ronan’s voice, low and intense yet pure enough, sharing thoughts and ideas. If you haven’t heard “Nemesis” then you don’t know the power of words turned against injustice, and those that don’t know “Beloved” will never find the words to address a long lost soulmate. This, to me, is the true strength of VNV. Translate that into a live gig and it’s only natural how responsive the crowd was, and how thick the atmosphere.
However! They recently brought out a new album (Of Faith, Power and Glory) and I really don’t think I’m the only one hoping this new stuff is a trend that won’t continue for much longer. Okay, it’s still VNV and a certain quality is reached, but when listening to the material I can’t help but feel worried. I’m afraid that they actually gave this their whole effort, and came up with this. I’m concerned, that they didn’t just wanted to finish their contract and quickly cook something together. Because although I hope they didn’t feel too disappointed with the crowd’s lukewarm response to their newest single, I also pray that they draw their conclusions:
”Of Faith, Power and Glory” sucks big island donkeyballs. Before you shoot me, please sit down and consider their career, if you’ve been aware of it at all. Although they subtly change style from time, their power is consistent. But lately, they’re slacking. I hope this “faith and power” isn’t supposed to come from us, to cover for a poor effort on their side.

Another killer was the production’s light technician. He must have been new, no doubt about that. If he wasn’t, then he should have been fired before the gig and replaced by a random volunteer from the audience. Between every single song, and this is something utterly unacceptable for a pro, Ronan had to direct him on what to do. The front truss-spots were set to “scorch” at every given opportunity and I can understand not wanting to put the lead singer in the dark while he’s talking, but usually you don’t want to start a song in a setting that mimics broad daylight. It came up to the point where the lights went on and immediately off again, with a frustrated, Inglorious Basterds-like “Nein, nein!” in the speakers. I did not want to be in his shoes that night.

In short, I loved it even more than last time. I danced my little bollocks off along with everyone else, and even an unbiased critic would call the atmosphere at least “epic”. Four stars, and several minutes of continued clapping and singing after the show. Impressive. See these guys if you ever get the chance.

Let there be
Let there always be
Neverending light

Let there be
Let there always be
Neverending light

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