The Lords of Acid

Cajun House, Phoenix, Arizona - 1 November, 2002

"At times it became a little like listening to the CD during rush hour on the tube"

"All ages welcome". Oh, hold my aching sides... Can only presume this was someone's idea of sarcasm, since if there were ever a 'Parental Advisory' band, it's the Lords of Acid. Their songs include tongue-in-cheek odes to the joys of bestiality (Doggy Tom) and paedophilia (Young Boys), so the concept of a G-rated performance was worrying, like Tarantino directing the next Disney cartoon. Besides, what the hell were we paying $22 for? Fortunately, we needn't have been concerned.

The evening was lean and stripped-down, with no support band, unless you count DJ Redboy, and I refuse to consider DJ's as musicians. Still, prejudices aside, he played a good mix of stuff (anyone who connects Headhunter with Blue Monday gets our vote), and the advantage of a DJ is he takes two minutes to clear his kit offstage when he's finished. In many ways, too, we'd rather not spend two hours hanging around before the main act, listening to support bands who are, in all probability, not successful for good reason.

[Lords of Acid ticket] Thus, Lords of Acid took the stage with little delay. After being absent from the first chunk of the tour, founder Praga Khan had caught up with the rest of the band, and general opinion seemed to be that this was a good thing. After a rapidly revolving series of lead singers, they seem to have settled on Deborah Ostrega as their front. Not sure about the haircut (dangerously near a mullet), but in terms of attitude, style and energy, she is perfect for the role, running the gamut of characters from vengeful scorned lover to dominatrix. But bassist Claudia Vanderboomen (as Kittie Claws) also deserves mention for her "pissed-off Catwoman" outfit, and hell, even the chief roadie was wearing a bondage mask.

The main problem was that the Lords' sound is so polished and sharply-edged in the studio, that live replication is always going to be problematic. Despite an almost conventional line-up (drummer, guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), there was a lot of tape work going on, so at times it became a little like listening to the CD during rush hour on the tube. With only a greatest hits compilation to promote, there wasn't much new here, though the new song, Gimme Gimme, is one of their strongest. However, there was just so much going on, from the video screens showing bizarre soft-porn imagery, through Deborah's costume changes (she did appear to be wearing panties here, unlike certain notorious gigs) and dripping of hot wax on herself, to scoping out fellow attendees - I did wonder if the confused-looking guy in an Iron Maiden shirt was at the right venue.

And then there was the audience participation, rumours of which kept Chris and I lurking at a respectful distance. There was the couple tied together with tape and serenaded by Deborah during Lover Boy/Lover Girl. The impromptu light domination session for Spank Your Booty. And, most memorably, during the encore Pussy ("Let me see your pussy, show it to me..." - it's about a feline, honest!), Deborah brought half a dozen female audience members up on stage, and exhorted them to, er, put the cat out. Amusingly, when one did, she was tackled by house security with a ferocity previously seen only in the NFL. The venue was clearly much keener on the 'All ages welcome' tag than the band - though much credit is due to the Lords for coming out afterwards to sign autographs. As a live band, musically, the Lords aren't particularly notable. However, this still remains one of the most memorable shows of the year. The band has got precisely the right degree of irony and humour, and this comes across in their concerts beautifully. If this was a G-rated performance, we'll have to head across to Belgium for the Euro version.

Jim McLennan