This review conjures up many strong, happy memories. It really was one of those gigs. Lest you believe how much fun I had, just take a look at the DVD footage of it on the "Faust In Autumn" DVD and you can see me there grinning like an idiot, bopping like a twat, all floopy-haired and goofy. I feel a bit embarrassed now about how short the review of Ectogram is, there is no excuse really for such skimpy coverage of such a good support act. Also, the claim "I go to gigs every week" might have been a bit of a lie but I think I really did have 4 gigs to go to that week. I think I might have skipped the last one though as I was so behind on my sleep after the long journey home from this gig.
FAUST + Ectogram - Newcastle Academy 2, UK, 8th November 2005
So, my first encounter with the group Ectogram. Two dueling psychedelic guitars underpinned by a powerful drummer and complimented by the vocals of one of those guitarists, Ann. It's always tricky to judge a support group, particularly when you haven't heard them before and are all hyped up for the main act, but still Ectogram managed to impress. I am going to have to track down some of their stuff.
As for Faust, well, I never! Where to begin? I go to gigs every week. Hell, this week I've got 4 gigs written into my diary. I have been a regular gig goer for around 15 years now. The point I'm trying to make, basically, is that I have seen a thing or two in my time. I'm not wet behind the ears or easily impressed.
I state all this because at this gig, I was more than a bit impressed. A bit bloody gob-smacked would probably be the right turn of phrase here. I'd seen the first rehearsals from this line-up of Faust on the "Connections" DVD. I'd heard them on the "Collectif Met(z)" box set. I'd read all about how good the tour was from the e-mails on the Faust List. I even knew the set lists for every previous night of the tour. I'd even heard about what went on in the stage show.
Somehow, though, even though I knew all about it, Faust still managed to completely surprise me. Maybe it's the way they lulled me into a false sense of serenity by opening up with a lush, soothing rendition of "Listen To The Fish". They followed that up with "It's A Bit Of A Pain" and suddenly, Zappi's no longer holding back and neither is Jean-Hervé. The new members Olivier and Amaury fuse naturally into the sound, adding a distinct edge of their own.
After breathing fresh new life into that old classic, Jean-Hervé begins to shout at us that "this is not music" and suddenly, he hops off the stage and unveils an ironing board at the front. He switches on the iron and persuades an audience member to take off their shirt for ironing. Suddenly, Zappi comes marching to the front of the stage with a load of metal bars and begins to hurl them off the stage onto the metal plate at the front of the crowd. A plate I'd been standing on until I stood back to give Jean-Hervé room to hop off the stage. Luckily, they're fairly light pipes or I'm too enraptured by the whole thing to feel any pain when they bounced off and into me.
I'm feeling all cool and laid-back, when suddenly "oh fuck!" he's wielding a bloody big lead pipe above his head and I start to leg it into the crowd when I realise he's just banging it above his head and isn't going to lob it at me. That sense of calm and safety is soon shattered when he begins using an angle grinder and fires sparks into the crowd. The security guard's faces are a complete picture - horror, fear and helplessness as they shout into their headsets and walkie-talkies. One of them later on tells me not to dance near to the iron. Come on! They're an avante-garde rock 'n' roll band! They may throw pipes off stage and shower us in sparks but they're not going to leave the iron plugged in! They're not barbarians!
By now, a big smile is stretched across the faces of nearly all the crowd (if not the venue staff) and then they only go and play "The Sad Skinhead". After that, Zappi conducts a small group of beautiful young ladies for a rendition of "I've Got My Car And My TV" and dancing like mad seems the only sensible option.
Then, Jean-Hervé begins the discussion: "Rund Ist Schön" when suddenly the local firemen's marching band ambush us from behind and come to the front to jam with Faust. After this, you begin to wonder what next? An alien choir? What comes next is a fantastic selection of songs, mainly new which meld Zappi's heavy but oh-so-danceable drumming with some head-banging guitar thrash-outs and heavy wildness. We get a blazing version of "Mamie Is Blue", another marching band jam and some big smiles.
Of course, the crowd wouldn't let them get away without an encore and very loud applause dragged them out to finish us all off with "It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl". How could you sum this night up? It wasn't a gig, it was a happening, a special event and something that will stay with me for a very long time. Blimey!
Review and mobile phone photos by Ned Netherwood
Huge thanks to Peter Kidd, David Enzor and to Emma @ AMG.