GIG REVIEW: CRADLE OF FILTH & NE OBLIVISCARIS Live At Koko Theatre, London
It has been almost a quarter of a century since Cradle of Filth first defiled listeners ears with their own unique brand of Gothic metal. To this day (and somewhere within the region of 30 member changes since), Cradle are still producing albums regularly, the most recent being Hammer of The Witches, and continue to tour extensively. This tour, The Inquisitional Torture Tour, included an evening in London’s Koko Theatre, Camden where the band are always welcome.
Opening the show were London’s own She Must Burn who apparently stood out as the best of the batch and earned their slot supporting Cradle as part of an audition competition. Having watched their show, it is hard to imagine how this came to be. Besides some rookie sound quality throughout, when the keyboard player (as opposed to the vocalist/frontman) has more presence, a better vocal range and is actually audible when performing, something is amiss.
However, just when all hope seemed lost on the support slot end of the bill, Ne Obliviscaris took to the stage and gave a performance where the only fault was that it was not witnessed by more. This band blend all that is great about metal and all that could be great about metal. Their songwriting, individual member styles, performance and their production live does not spend any time dueling petty egos. Their respect for the genre, each other and the clear patience in the picture they paint is evident and the result earns its plaudits. A large crowd in Koko stood mesmerized throughout the performance and a roaring applause of enjoyment and sheer admiration erupted after each track. More could and should be said about this band. Metal bands every year claim they will produce something that will change the face of metal and, in recent times, have failed and have bathed in their own self-titled sense of glory since. Ne Obliviscaris may have already touched on something that will changed metal. If they haven’t yet, they are sure to.
At this point the setting is almost too perfect. A large, blood red theatre in Camden stacked to the rafters with thick studded boots and ghastly painted faces waits, silently over the music playing before to exposed skeletons hanging from chains on crucifixes either side of the stage. The lights go down and mist from the skeletons eyes fills the stage before the shadowed members of Cradle begin to emerge on to the stage. Keyboard player and vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft is the first visible member as she creeps, hunched to centre stage with a lantern that ignites her devilish smile upon the crowd. Finally the commander of band and crowd alike appears, Dani Filth decked out in studded torso gear, a staff with what appear to be goat horns on the top and a crown of the same description upon his head. The crowd have bellowed their welcome and their wait comes to an end as does the into of Humana Inspired To Nightmare. Cradle waste no time as they launch into back to back tracks with Heaven Torn Asunder, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids and Blackist Magick in Practice.
Short greetings are exchanged before Filth introduces the first of the next batch with Lord Abortion, Right Wing of the Garden Triptych, Malice Through the Looking Glass Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess, Filth’s unique and terrifying shrieks shaking the very rafters of the theatre losing no strength in them as the show furthers. Filth, now without staff, crown or cape, is using every inch of the stage in length and breadth and conducting the band and crowd like a unified goth orchestra against a demons opera. Queen of Winter Throned fittingly sees the band leave the stage for a minute and the audience don’t hesitate to ask for more. But they are made wait. Not quick re-entrance, no timed-out waiting around, just enough suspense to build the tension for the final act.
Through the show the bands theatrics are on point but this is to no surprise. Their additional crew members however were a welcomed surprise to all, or most, depending on whether or not you were their with your overly jealous significant other. Two ladies of the night performed during several tracks, at one point as nuns burning bibles and stripping bare to nothing but duct tape and another during Her Ghost in the Fog as an innocent dressed in white, seduced and corrupted by the evil in black among other performances. A welcome and steamy asset to any all rock shows, Cradle’s use in actors was both attractive and visually captivating. As the band performed and sang these stories, these ladies showed them. This is when they weren’t stripping leather from their bodies, of course! Another good idea, due to the ever increasing level of diminishing attention spans and all that. Anyway! Where was I?
Walpurgis Eve and Yours Immortally see many a delighted fan turning the ground floor into a mosh pit before the pace is slowed down in all the right ways. Nymphetamine fits beautifully into the set as a lull but also as an alternative performance piece. Schoolcrafts vocals are both strong and sensitive in their delivery. Chills are sent throughout as her haunting duo with Filth on this track envelops the crowd and feeds their own voices in a re-pour each way.
The final moments of the set are found in The Twisted Nails of Faith, Her Ghost in The Fog and Blooding the Hounds of Hell and the strength of the new line up is blatantly evident. Ashok and Richard Shaw on guitars lock in Daniel Firth on Bass creating a wall of sound too big for this room (a compliment in this case) and Martin Skaroupka’s kit suffers Dani FIlth’s wrath as the frontman shakes the drum set’s frame violently during the shows outro and created a strong ending both musically and visually! Filth and co leave the stage having given the crowd a great show.
It is surprising to see articles entitled 25 Reasons Cradle are Still Relevant, and 10 Reasons to Love Cradle of Filth Today. Did we ever need a reason? Did we ever forget them? Have they ever not been relevant? Cradle of Filth have, do and will more than likely continue to push the boundaries of what is considered to be acceptable. In their music, their live show, in everything they do. It is blatant in any area of the band that you look to, internally too. This band will always be relevant in the world of metal and in the lives and hearts of their fans who love them and need no article to choose a reason to.
Cradle of Filth are a tough bunch who put on a great show composed of great songs in London’s Koko Theatre. They left the stage with broad shoulders and a rough exterior. As bad ass as they come. But, if you looked close enough, you could see arms flailing in celebration almost as soon as they walked off stage. They love what they do and so do we. Here is to another twenty-five years of Cradle!