I arrived shortly after 7.00pm in order to catch each act on the programme. It has to be said, £5 to see four bands has got to be good value by any standards - provided you like the music on offer that is! So, did I? Well, 'Yes' is the simple answer. Before this night I'd only heard one band previously and that is Man(i)kin, but first up were I.O.N.
Their half-hour set was delivered via two keyboards (both players looking cool with cigarettes in their mouths throughout) and a guitarist producing a blend of swirling yet heavy industrial sounds with a sampled female voice added from tape.
The 10-minute opener was a good, repetitive number, followed by a much more in-your-face dance track. Overall the keyboard sounds were effective and the background melodies strong as were the odd tribal drum rhythms. However, I thought the guitar worked against the best elements in the rest of the music and if they were to drop that in favour of something more imaginative then I.O.N. Could truly stand out.
Man(i)kin also provided a half-hour set. I was fortunate to have caught these classic industrial EBMers at their debut gig during the Infest festival in Bradford last year. As then, they began with a moody, scene-setting instrumental build up that turned a few heads of the increasing audience. Consisting of a lead vocalist, two live percussionists and a keyboard player, Man(i)kin certainly look the part - right down to the drummers' matching Bundeswehr vests! And they sound the part too.
A mixture of mid-period Front Line Assembly, Sheep on Drugs with an occasional touch of Snog thrown in for good measure, the music certainly got a respectable number onto the dance floor. Despite heroic efforts (coming across as sub-Covenant style), the singer clearly has improved very little since their debut and, with the talent the band contains, an investment in some singing lessons would be money well spent. It also seems that often the band are trying just too hard to sound dangerous or edgy, they should learn to trust their instincts, calm down a little and just let their good songs come through naturally. One track, called "Deity" got the mix just about perfect. But I'm nit picking.
I'm pretty sure that over time this band will improve and go on to make a big impact within the international Industrial scene and deservedly so. These could certainly be the next VNV Nation so try to see them live and check out their debut CD which is due any time now on the Nightbreed label.
Nervosa, despite their billing on the flyer as 'Edinburgh based industrialists', are a 5-piece classic Goth outfit - every member clad from head to toe in black and red PVC, with spiky hair and lots of make- up. Their energetic performance and talented two female vocalists gave their set a professionally-delivered air. I've a soft spot for 80s Goth acts but the current scene does nothing for me, and whilst Nervosa did nothing to change that, if you're a fan of the genre then they are well worth checking out. I did enjoy watching the cute lead singer and the stand-out song for me was "Tower of Darkness" with its triggering synth backing. Nervosa's debut single "I'm Alive" is out now.
And so, come 9.30pm, it was time for headliners Inertia.
I'd not heard them before (missed the last London gig after a last-minute change of venue) and deliberately avoided hearing them in the run-up to the gig. I wanted to experience it as an Inertia virgin to get the full impact. The minimalist stage set up was the first immediate impression - couple of keyboards, percussion and singer. The female percussionist also provided backing vocals on a couple of tracks which added an extra dimension. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I wasn't expecting the full-on set of hammering dance floor beats I got! Break beat percussion, techno noises, Industrial Dance and harsh vocals, with an occasional Nitzer Ebb and Die Krupps touch to be discerned in amongst the mix.
It was good to see a classic Korg MS20 putting in a sterling live performance and some of the retro sounds coming from it were pure John Foxx at his best. Inertia didn't offer any respite for an hour and the audience on the now packed dance floor clearly appreciated it! I'd have like it a whole lot more if the vocals were not the same old screaming and shouting that seem to crop up too much for my liking. I'm not against the style, but there are times when something else would work a lot better.
I think Inertia is one of the bands that throws away a lot of great compositions and great sounds by insisting that almost every track has a predictably harsh, aggressive male vocal. I can't see this approach changing and I'm sure hundreds wouldn't want it to. Of course, if you don't mind this then you must hear this band. If you've not done so already then you are in luck - their new album is on sale soon.
So, a mixed bag of goodies for a variety of reasons on the night but I can confidently say my £5 was well invested - there was pretty much something for everyone. But for me, I'll be keeping my eye on Man(i)kin in particular.