Black Celebration 2018
D.A.F./The Young Gods/Mesh/Suicide Commando/Empathy Test/Sulpher/DKAG/Machine Rox

The Forum, London - 28 October 2018

"An ambitious event in a stunning venue. Brilliant!"

Editor's note: Flag Promotions' introduced the Black Celebration one-day festival in 1999 as a dedicated industrial music festival. After an entertaining run through to the mid-noughties it disappeared from the annual UK calendar. So when it's return was announced earlier this year, there were many who were surprised, but delighted, to hear of its comeback. Links to the debut festival in 1999, and three more can be found at the bottom of this review. All are also listed in the A-Z of Gig Reviews.

We arrived at The Forum Kentish town just past 2.30pm (from the very nearby Dome Hotel Camden, recommended!) to be greeted by friendly and jovial door/security staff, and then similarly pleasant cloakroom staff, as the first band had started. The sound was impressive, big and clear, and a good number of people were already present and ready to dance.

Machine Rox: a bold and charismatic performance with loads of personality. Ariel's unapologetically brassy singing and performance completely commanded the audience, as did Richard on guitars and Debs (System FX/Be My Enemy) on drums. These guys looked and sounded like they were having a lot of fun, but they also included some heartfelt and emotional themes in their songs. Ariel's mermaid dancing girls were a (sorry, but) deliciously silly addition. This was, unambiguously, a "show", and well worth arriving early for. Brilliant!

Setlist: The Beast In You, Seawitch, Stardust, Fighting With My Fear, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Crash

Machine Rox Black Celebration 2018
     DKAG Black Celebration 2018

Photos [L-R]: Machine Rox, DKAG

DKAG: Despite the early slot, Emmerick & Steve brought their usual club sound with unimpeded energy and charisma, they got everyone moving and managed to engage with the audience, no easy task on this big stage. After their substantial tour with Nachtmahr their improved confidence is evident, but they remain humble and personable while completely raising the roof. Great job. After DKAG, the brief DJ spot kept the energy up, making it seem (to me) a bit of a shame to have it interrupted by a quick soundcheck, but that's what happens, bands need to be plugged in and set up, but it was quick at least.

Setlist: Incite, Zero Day, Weapons Grade Bass (original mix vs Rotersand rework), Accelerate, Deception, Dial Overdose, Slimelight Muzik

Sulpher: I saw Sulpher maybe 5 times 'back in the day' and certainly enjoyed them, so would have happily stayed for their gig. They started strong, maybe a bit grungey for my current tastes, but I bet they were great. But we took the opportunity to leave the venue to find food. I was impressed and gladdened that the event was advertised as having re-entry available, as the thought of an all-day gig without a break isn't that appealing to me. Sadly, the advertised food vendors didn't happen, but it worked out better. The cloakroom staff allowed us to reuse our tickets rather than pay again, so we went out and found a brilliant lunch locally for £5!

Setlist: Didn't Ever, Problem, One of Us, Unknown, Used, Follow You Down, Take A Long Hard Look, Scarred, Spray

Sulpher Black Celebration 2018    Empathy Test Black Celebration 2018    Suicide Commando Black Celebration 2018

Photos [L-R]: Sulpher, Empathy Test, Suicide Commando

Rested, and back at the venue for the very end of Empathy Test's set.... Maybe it was because we were late into it, but this did nothing for me, and I'm glad that this is the set we missed.

Suicide Commando: another great and charismatic performance. Intelligent and bombastic style, not a favourite of mine usually, but Johan engaged with the audience, and delivered as always. A fantastic performance.

Setlist: The Gates of Oblivion, My New Christ, The Pain That You Like, Schizotopia, God Is In The Rain, Cause of Death Suicide, The Devil, Bind Torture Kill, Love Breeds Suicide, We Are Transitory, Die Motherfucker Die

Mesh: I've never been into this band, anthemic pop rock. New Order or maybe U2 without any strong tunes. I've never understood why they are so popular, but I danced a bit, and people really like them, so I'm not going to argue. I'm indifferent to them I guess.

The Young Gods: I don't understand how this aged, French-Swiss psychedelic rock band fit into the pantheon of industrial music. But they very much delivered. I only know the one track, Skinflowers, which featured in the middle of their set, but I loved every scrap of their technical transcendental anthemic setlist. I don't know what that was, but it was great and I danced my heart out.

Setlist: Entre en Matiere, Figure Sans Nom, Criez les chiens, Gasoline, Skinflowers, Eaux Rouge, Envoye, The Night Dance, Kissing The Sun, L' amouRiRe, You Gave Me A Name

Mesh Black Celebration 2018    The Young Gods Black Celebration 2018    DAF Black Celebration 2018

Photos [L-R]: Mesh, The Young Gods, D.A.F.

D.A.F.: Sadly this didn't connect. I like old school, stripped down EBM beats, but this did very little for me. Sadly also, the venue emptied quickly, which I believe is the reason that the hour of DJ time afterwards didn't happen, which is a decision I understand and respect.

This was an ambitious event in a stunning venue. I saw many good friends (called it a family gathering more than once) and had a very fun, positive time. I was excited at the thought of another Black Celebration festival, and my hopes were more than exceeded. 9/10

Review: Dani Antagonist

Machine Rox by Sabine Werner
DKAG by Matt Hart
Sulpher by Grete Laus-Evestus

Empathy Test, Mesh, Suicide Commando, Young Gods, DAF by Jessica Lotti Photography

See also: