LIVE REVIEW: The March Violets & Die Laughing

By on 20 June 2012

The March Violets + Die Laughing

Academy Islington, London


Flag Promotions have no less than three shows and an after party on in the Angel area tonight so this gig was never going to be packed. This is a bit of a shame for Die Laughing as it has been a full twelve years since they last played London. Like tonight’s headliners they have been on hiatus for some time before reforming more recently and it is evident that they are happy to be back as they greet the audience, singer Rachel with an infectious smile on her face. At first they suffer with sound levels too high and it takes a while to settle down. Once it does the sinuous guitar work cuts through every nook and cranny of the venue and the band are lit up in soft pastel pink lighting, the crystalline and spiny fretwork getting a few dancing happily at the front. The instantly recognisable happy go lucky and somewhat carefree poppy strains of ‘Glamour And Suicide’ is the sort of song many are obviously here for tonight, taking us back on a retro trip to debut album released in 1995. ‘Love Amongst The Ruins’ continues the retrospective but this is one reincarnation that does not just depend on a back catalogue as recent single ‘Tangled’ proves. It’s a catchy twisty number with the essence of the old material running through it but a fresh injection of creativity that simply cannot fail to go down well. Finishing with another favourite anthem ‘Safe Little World’ this was the perfect support to get us in the mood for the headliners and it’s obvious that Die Laughing’s punch line is one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.


But tonight is really all about The March Violets and they are quickly in bloom as the guitar and violin tease us prior to the entrance of the singers. What an entrance too. Rosie Garland is dressed in nouveau chic style that was not a million miles from the Laibachian excess of Iron Sky and the ever eccentric looking Simon Denbeigh, father Albion the crow man, resplendent and gentrified. ‘We Are All Gods’ quickly gets us in the mood for the set with apocalyptic laden beats exploding in a welter of excellent pulsating sound and neon strobes. This is another band with a huge amount of history and again we shoot back in time to the sounds of the emerging Leeds Goth scene growing out around the Sisters Of Mercy and branching into a score of great bands. ‘Undertow’ has now a much more forceful sound; body popping beats taking it into almost EBM territory. The band played well and it also has to be said that the drum machine helps no end in getting our bodies moving. Pitch black guitars and moody bass sees ‘The Crow Baby’ taking us into strange dark territories and on this Rosie shines, vocal cadences really hitting their mark.


Some of the new material has really made a great impression though and it is odd waiting to hear some of it as much as the old classics. The Dandelion King is one such number and does not disappoint. This has a real feel of the past about it and has a neo-folk flavoured sound but as the band sum up they are very much ahead of their time and the twin vocal harmonies surging through the purple back lights make this one a real highlight. Still there were certain songs that the group would probably have been lynched for if they had not played and patiently we wait and get them. The vampires least favourite song ‘Walk Into The Sun’ is one powerfully delivered and as the final encore the sinuous slither of Snake Dance hits, it’s a grand finale setting people up nicely to pop over to the after-show at The Slimelight. Unlike many on the reformation trail though The March Violets have with their fantastic new songs, proved that they have perhaps transcended their past and with this new phase of their journey, it may even not be necessary for them to have to play them in the future.


Now if only The Batfish Boys reformed!

Words: Pete Woods

Photo: Unholy Racket

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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