The Forum, London - 12 April 2016

"Playfully inspired by the clash between totalitarian and capitalist imagery and the subliminal indoctrination of both"

This was a gig I was looking forward to, but truly unsure of what to expect. Advertised as Sound of Music Tour, it was trailed as featuring some of the material performed in North Korea, together with a selection of their earlier material and songs from the 1965 musical film The Sound of Music. It certainly promised to be an intriguing prospect.

Typically of the band it was a case of expect the unexpected. The early opening set, no support act, started with a somewhat overly long intro of discordant piano, accompanied by synth effects and drums. Any doubts that were creeping into my mind as the intro progressed, were quickly dispelled when Milan Fras and vocal counterpoint Mina Spiler entered the stage and the band performed a series of glorious renditions of some of their earlier material such as Now You Will Pay.

[Laibach - The Sound Of Music]   [Laibach - The Sound Of Music]   [Laibach - The Sound Of Music]

Following a fifteen minute intermission, the second set opened with what I can only describe as wonderfully 'Brechtian' versions of the classic songs from The Sound of Music. While this may sound a twee and contrived idea, to be honest I was almost dreading it, it turned out to be a fabulous and captivating performance, accompanied by fantastic and relevant visual projections. Many playfully inspired by the clash between totalitarian and capitalist imagery and the subliminal indoctrination of both.

The imagery for My Favourite Things, being particularly effective, happy smiling party comrades surrounded by reassuringly familiar every day western treats and temptations, from Warhol style Campbell's noodle soup cans to fairy cakes, juicy steaks and My Little Pony dolls. The overall effect helping to impart the familiar lyrics with a darker and questioning hue. Fras's unmistakable growling, almost sub bass voice, menacingly intoning a list of the good things in life, as if providing a question mark to their very goodness and validity.

[Laibach - The Sound Of Music]   [Laibach - The Sound Of Music]   [Laibach - The Sound Of Music]

It would be interesting to know if the imagery and metphors were allowed for the North Korean performances, could they really have escaped the censor's attention? Among the highlights of this section for me, were both Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi and the aforementioned My Favourite Things, all of the songs in this section however were engaging and unexpectedly thought provoking interpretations.

The band returned to more familiar territory before two encores closed the proceeding's,finishing with the band's classic and twisted version of Opus's 1984 Europop favourite, Live is Life. Laibach's Life is Life/Opus Dei, once again featuring those dark vocal tones imparting a cynicism and disdain to the vacuous feel good pop of the original song.

A wonderful evening enjoyed by a comfortably crowded and enthusiastic audience, highly recommended. 9/10 

Setlist: Part 1: Olav Trygvason (Edvard Grieg cover), Smrt za smrt, Brat Moj, Now You Will Pay, The Great Divide, Eurovision, Walk With Me, No History, Resistance Is Futile Part 2: Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss, The Sound of Music, Climb Ev'ry Mountain (Rodgers & Hammersteain covers) Warszawskie dzieci, We Are Millions and Millions Are One, The Whistleblowers, Ballad of A Thin Man (Bob Dylan cover), Bossanova Encore: My Favorite Things (Rodgers & Hammerstein cover), Anglia, Life Is Life (Opus cover) Encore 2: Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves

Review: Cliff Chapman
Photos: Arron Leslie