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LAIBACH live at Kampnagel, Hamburg (08.03.2018)

No, I didn't forget this review. And I also didn't spend several days deciding whether to write it in german or english. But there was this little excessive psychedelic extravaganza with King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard on Friday, which I wanted to address first. And then, well...  lots of other distractions.

But now to the Laibach concert on Thursday, where watching from the first row was much more comfortable. I have a fractious relationship with seated concerts, but given the theatrical origin of the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" material it was a fitting choice in this case. Plus I had a really good spot.

I wasn't the first one to buy tickets for the huge "K6" hall in the Kampnagel center. But since I only needed to order one ticket I was still lucky enough to catch one seat right in the middle of the first row.
Of course I couldn't resist to take some pictures during the show (who wants text-only reviews?), even though the venue had put up some signs with crossed out smartphones. But hey! Since my super small toy camera technically doesn't count as one of those I took it as a sportingly challenge and made it at least to the middle of the set during the first block of songs with the always enchanting Mina Špiler, until a security guy stopped my evildoings.

So now that I have confessed and am absolved, let's talk about the spectacular show!

When the audience entered the hall, there were already some searching lights going back and forth on stage, indicating that this would be one of the visually most impressive tours in the decades-long history of Laibach, while an endless version of the droning loop "Von den drei Verwandlungen" was playing from the speakers.
I don't know the exact time, but let's say after twenty or thirty minutes the four instrumentalists of the band came on stage one after one to start the set with a rumbling live version of that noise track.

There have been  a couple of changes in the line-up. While the familiar faces of Luka Jamnik and Rok Lopatič are still operating the synthesizers, the band has a new drummer now. And for the first time since the "WAT" tour in 2003 they also have a guitar player in their midst. This guy, whose name I am too lazy to research now, occasionally played a lead or hinted a metal riff, but his main responsibility were all kinds of effects, noises and drones. A very interesting performance which was a main component of the new sound of 2017/2018 Laibach.

Mina Špiler's role was smaller than on the previous tours, no surprise given that she only appears on one track of the recent album. So, since also has no keyboard duties, the fans had to wait for nine whole tracks.

Until then we experienced a version of Laibach that was deep, dark and primal, bulky and demanding. Well, of course "monumental retro-advantgarde" would also be a good term to describe it. Yet just as the "Zarathustra" album it never felt like a simple rehashing of something the band has done before.

Dressed in a shiny red glitter cloak Milan Fras commanded the stage with one of his most minimalistic performances. But even when he was away, like in the instrumental "Von Gipfel zu Gipfel" or "Das Nachtlied II" (that booming snoring sample was as effective as it was hilarious!), the performance never lost any of its suspense. "Also Sprach Zarathustra" showcased the slovenian Kunstmaschine at its very best.

After the "Zarathustra" part, which was concluded on a high note with Špiler's appearance in the orchestral "Vor Sonnen-Aufgang", the band followed with two new tracks with her her on lead vocals, which honestly weren't as memorable as the rest of the set. I would have rather put "Across The Universe" in here.

After that little breather, it was time for some heavier classics. Laibach refrained from the obvious biggest hits like "Geburt Einer Nation", "Opus Dei" or "Tanz mit Laibach". Instead they opted for some of the "revisited" material ("Brat Moj" and "Ti, ki izzivaš"), which appearantly will finally see its way on a studio release this year plus the "WAT" finale "Anti-Semitism", one of the few compositions from way after the 1980s with Slovene lyrics.

On top of that the band delighted me with two tracks from my all-time-favorite album "Kapital". Especially due to the guitar player "Le Privilege Des Morts" was filled with some interesting new sounds, and "Wirtschaft ist tot" was executed flawlessy, with especially the recreation of the different vocals in the piece being one the highlights of the show for me.

The encore fell a little flat compared to this. "Bossanova" was the only original Laibach song from the previous album "Spectre", and I always felt that it's clearly the weakest track of the bunch. I would have rather preferred the not so often included "Americana". The heavy laibachized blues stomping of "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" was a decent finish however.

So for total perfection I would have tweaked the set a little at two points, but the rest - and especially the "Zarathustra" material - still was a demonstration of fabulous genre-transcending excellence, which only Laibach can deliver.

Despite the strong competition from King Gizzard and the miraculous Anna von Hausswolff within the same week, this was my personal concert of the year so far.

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