Wednesday 10 December 2014

Live Review: Fields Of The Nephilim – O2 Empire, Shepherds Bush 06/12/2014

O2 Empire, Shepherds Bush

Thirty years on from their début EP 'Burning The Fields', The Fields Of The Nephilim have become a corner stone of the gothic rock movement, with every subsequent generation of bands citing them as an influence. The band's mystique has failed to wane in this time despite, break-ups, reformations and false starts. They are a band that take their time and get things right as they proved on their return album, 2005's 'Mourning Sun'. They have maintained a strong live presence and have never failed to draw a crowd and with the prospect of a new studio album n the horizon, the time seems right for a celebration.

The second evening of the two-night stint at Shepherds Bush Empire in London kicks off with the garage rock meets grunge styling of Southampton's Dolomite Minor. The duo take the White Stripes model of guitarist/vocalist and drummer and throw in some swampy grunge influences courtesy of 'Bleach' era Nirvana, and add a kick of dark stoner rock dementia. It is an interesting mix that is appreciated by the fans who assemble in the venue in time to catch them. Yet they don't really project much of a presence on the large stage and it feels as though they've just been poached from the pub gig down the road for the sake of adding an extra band to the bill.

HIM make their return to London, drawing in a sizeable selection of under 25s to the evening. The last time this reviewer caught the love metal Finns was about ten years ago and front man Ville Valo's lacklustre performance was a sad and boring spectacle. Luckily the decade since has seen an improvement in his ability. He has more power in his voice (even if he can't sustain it that long), and he varies his style a lot more.

The set list is comprised mainly of older material with such songs such as 'Sacrament', 'Gone With The Sin', 'Wings Of A Butterfly', 'Buried Alive By Love', 'Wicked Game', and 'Soul On Fire' illicit big reactions from the crowd. Valo's performance still sees him essentially basking in the crowds adoration as he awkwardly skulks about the stage, but if their presence draws the attention of younger music fans to the work of the headliners, then their job for the evening is done.

Then it is the turn of the Fields Of The Nephilim to take to the stage to the now familiar intro of 'Shroud' before opening with a powerful rendition of 'Straight To The Light'. And like their first single, power is the name of the game. The band's sound fills the venue, and Carl McCoy's unmistakable growl erupts from the stage as he stalks about like a post-apocalyptic shaman.

The band play a strong selection of favourites such as 'Preacher Man', 'The Watchman', 'For Her Light', 'Moonchild', and 'Last Exit For The Lost'. As well as a welcome airing of 'Zoon Part 3' and a particularly rousing performance of 'Dawnrazor'. Though the best gift was in the form of a brand new song, 'Prophecy', which gives a hint to what is still to come from The Neph'.

The mix is a little off in places, with the guitar distortion swamping McCoy's vocals on occasion. But this isn't a huge issue as the band perform with the poise and precision befitting their enviable veteran status.

The evening comes to an end with an encore comprised of 'Psychonaut' and 'Mourning Sun' as the band close the book on the first thirty years of the Fields Of The Nephilim with a brief but humble thank you to the audience and an air of expectation for a new release in the near future to welcome in another decade. 

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