Nemesis promotions are noted more for their goth than electronic gigs. Tonight's event appeared to be a collaboration between Nemesis and headliners Inertia, whose fledgling record label Cryonica has just started releasing non-Inertia material.
Having not seen (or heard) Swarf before I was keen to arrive on time so as not to miss this three piece from Brighton. I did and I was glad that I did. Fronted by the impressive Liz Green (formerly with Digitalis whom I vaguely recall), Swarf's melodic style of electro goth pop works extremely well. Complimenting the emotional lead vocals were sweeping and epic synth pads, distinctive hooklines and lots of rumbling bass courtesy of Andrew Stock and Chris Keifer.
There's a decidedly commercial edge to some of Swarf's songs and that's not meant as any criticism. Indeed, they projected a very professional and polished image and sound. Green's slightly aloof 'attitude' contrasted with her obvious enthusiasm for their material - she had much fun throwing her long red dreadlocks about and leaping across the Underworld's small stage. Their set included some very club friendly floor pumpers and their fresh arrangements avoided repetition and predictability. Swarf received the best response I've heard for a 'bottom-of-the-bill' support band for a long time. Maybe they had some friends in the audience... either way the praise was well deserved.
Electro pop pushers from Germany, Melotron were the main reason for my attendance at this event. Not sure if this was their debut trip to the UK (they'd played the Slimelight club the night before), Melotron are one of those acts who are used to playing bigger venues and to much bigger crowds than the Underworld could offer tonight. Although the singer seemed initially perplexed/irritated by the lack of obvious enthusiasm from the audience, "Thank you... and wake up!" he shouted after one song, he need not have worried. Melotron's show was slick and major label professional - something uncommon within the UK's struggling electronic pop scene.
Sound wise, it is lazy (but perfectly appropriate) to cite Depeche Mode as a broad point of reference. Synth pop hooklines, dancey bass patterns, clear and passionate (German) vocals combined with some crushing beats. The singer even looked like Dave Gahan (clean-cut short-hair-but-rock-God-attitude phase) and they are also three-piece - a la Basildon's finest. But enough already. Melotron may wear some of their influences on their sleeves but their own particular brew of commercial electronic pop songs is strong enough to warrant personal attention. Not always compelling but certainly always entertaining, Melotron were a welcome addition to the UK live circuit. The front man looked like he was having difficulty keeping his enthusiasm up as their set progressed but he still managed a great deal of across stage working out and several striking rock God type poses. They'd need not have worried, UK audiences (and especially those in London) for the electronic scene can be notoriously apathetic. As an Underworld regular I can reassure Melotron that they were liked, went down well and are welcome back any day. Thanks to promoters Nemesis for putting them on.
My love/hate relationship with Inertia continues. Actually, its more a love/uninterested relationship. As a musical act, they don't do a lot for me personally. But as nice folk, stalwarts of the UK scene, promoters, international networkers and now label managers (of Cryonica) I can't sing their praises highly enough. Needless to say then that, despite a preview of some new tracks from their forthcoming album, I found more interest in their label table back by the bar, and enjoyed chatting to female percussionist Alexys B about Cryonica's future plans and hopes. Technical problems interfered with the start of Inertia's set but a concerted effort to focus more on the tunes than the aggression of old continues to see Inertia slowly develop.
Sadly, a couple of weeks after this event, Nemesis announced that they were throwing in the promotion towel for good. This was not only a real shame but a blow to the alternative electronic live scene in the UK. Uncle Nemesis himself confessed that with most events running at a loss, and with the ludicrous charges asked for by London venues particularly, as a part-time hobby activity it was just taking up too much money and time. (This leaves Flag the only serious promoter left in this genre now and one can only pray that they can make ends meet and continue in good health for many years to come.) The Nemesis website will remain online as an archive of their 7 years raising the profile of gothic/industrial/electronic/darkwave acts in the UK. A moment's silence please...