Einstürzende Neubauten

The Forum, London - 5 April 2005

"The world was made so that bands like NE could exist"

Einstürzende Neubauten are one of those acts that are known to those who have no interest in industrial music. Having made their name in the early 1980s as a pioneer alongside other metallic fetishists like Test Department and SPK, Blixa Bargeld's ever-evolving troupe of eccentric experimental artistes has constantly delivered over an impressive 25 year career. This return to the Forum in London as part of their 25th Anniversary tour was the perfect live initiation for one such as I.

[Einstürzende Neubauten ticket]With no support act, this two-hour set was split into two sections. To these untrained ears at least there was no discernible distinction. It was all high quality stuff. With the stage looking something akin to Mad Max's junkyard, the huge white sheet backdrop that dwarfed the band, the bright lights and the five minute chatty introduction before they even began to play (and the butcher's aprons on sale on the merchandise stall!) all ensured that to even the most casual observer this was most assuredly not an evening of rock 'n' roll. And, boy, what a breath of fresh air that proved to be.

There was a bewildering array of sometimes comical-looking instrumentation, much of it home-made. Somehow, plastic piping being hit blended seamlessly with Paganistic chants and Aboriginal beats and Papua New Guinea moods, but with the ever-reliable angle grinder and the odd shopping trolley (literally) thrown in for good measure. Forget catchy choruses, forget posturing, forget ego and instead think eclectic experimental world music, driven by a thick bass and lead guitar... with cascading metallic percussion... oh, and the occasional earthquake of car alarms. Picture a cluster of empty one-gallon olive oil drums, strung together, being bounced across the stage and you're getting closer - at least to the visual experience. The infrequent screaming by lead vocalist BB was uniquely effective. The smashing beats not at the expense of either structure or even melody. Whilst tracks like Ende Neu, the intro of which comprises solely of an airhose blasted into a microphone, clearly demonstrate their influence on modern (similarly light-hearted) experimentalists like Matmos.

It was a performance that would have been equally at home at the Royal Festival Hall as the former Town and Country Club. Part circus, part gig, part performance art, but the best aspects of each. Intelligence and talent in perfect harmony, unfettered by concepts as mundane a genre. Just as groundbreaking, vital and exhilarating as ever they were. The world was made so that bands like NE could exist. Praise the Lord!

Rob Dyer