review by Travis Baumann
Having seen Laibach once before on the "Jesus Christ Superstar" tour, I had a good idea of what to expect from this force known as Laibach. When I saw them the first time, they performed in a small venue where one of L.A.'s premiere goth/industrial clubs goes down every Thursday. This provided an excellent, intimate experience, during which they played every song off of "Nato" followed by every song off of "Jesus Christ Superstar" - in order and in their entirety. It was simply amazing.
Laibach was scheduled as the Saturday night headlining act at the large open air Denkmal memorial park. Unfortunately Suicide Commando and Sleepwalk were scheduled at the same time and this caused a dilema for us.
We even asked Cevin Key what he thought we should do with such a decision ahead and he hesitated not one moment in responding "Laibach. Laibach are amazing" and coming from someone like Cevin that pretty much sums up what Laibach are to the scene and especially in concert. We pretty much had the same opinion, but felt much better ditching out early of Suicide Commando and missing Sleepwalk all together with his endorsement.
Laibach went on late due to the length of time Le Tumbors Du Bronx took to sound- check and to just play out their set. Finally, Laibach went on and before a huge crowd (and a huge amount of photorgraphers jostling for space in the small area between stage and audience). We were given strict instructions from an intimidating security team- member that no flash would be permitted and you were allowed two songs instead of the standard three.
Laibach started playing and immediately, I was impressed with the monumental and epic nature of their horn sections, string sections, and driving rhythms. The lead singer made his appearance and it was as if Jesus himself stepped on stage. He immediately demands respect and attention and is so serious in person. He had on his customary head dress and wore his beard and mustache like a signature of station. He made emphatic arm gestures and head positioning adding serious weight and emphasis to each song.
Laibach have always fascinated me with their combining of facist art/appearance and in contrast, a really solid open-minded desire for knowledge ("I only want to know"). Having bought their book of the NSK at the last show several years ago, I had had the opportunity to study their philosophy and art in some depth. What became apparent to me is that in their messages they don't tell you what is wrong and right but instead tell you a lot of both and let you decide what is real and what should be discarded as misinformation. In this way they mimic society, economy, and the world but with a very sarcastic and definitive mental state that knows exactly what their impact and intentions are.
With their extremely elaborate political and social hierarchy set up, the NSK is far more than just an art movement and a band. They issue passports through the NSK and even have postage stamps printed up.
This elaborate and extreme mentality accompanies them on stage and you are given a perfectly professional presentation that takes into account so many different ideas and notions but wraps them up in a cohesive package that is Laibach. At times they are purely humorous, others deeply profound, but always original and entertaining in the way they work infamous covers and original tracks.
They played a tremendous set, hitting favorites from all their albums and eras. As they left the stage for a break, the audience cheered and applauded. They re-emerged to the accompaniment of fireworks being fired over the stage. As the last of the fireworks detonated, a red glow caught our eye behind the stage set up. The massive monument that soars above the cityline was lit on fire! Flares lined every tier and embankment of the monument - creating a fascinating, moving display. I was amazed that the city of Leipzig would endorse the lighting of a monument from the era of Napoleon and it was a spectacular, monumental occurrence that I felt very privileged to be apart of .
Laibach continued their awesome performance and began the song "Life is Life" for their second encore song. As the lead singer sang the last "Life is Life" the clouds, as if on cue, opened their dams and let the water flow. A torrential down-poor would not be exaggerating the force of the rain and wind at this moment. We all just ran for it, oblivious to everything else but finding shelter from the driving, pelting rain. We made it under an umbrella severely straining from the force of the wind and gained some shelter for a moment's reprieve. Everyone under the umbrella, although completely soaked from even a moments exposure, had huge smiles on their faces and commented on how "Life is Life" and how "coincidental" but fitting an ending for an awesome show that none of us will ever forget.
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