Death In June - Tribe of Circle - Les Joyaux de la Princesse
Der Blutharsch
Brussels - 1st December 2001

The Belgian date of Der Blutharsch's When All Else Fails... tour seemed very promising, for some reason I had the feeling that something exceptional was going to happen...
Indeed, it's not very often that one can see Tribe of Circle, Les Joyaux de la Princesse and Der Blutharsch together on the same bill. To mark the event, Der Blutharsch had decided to release WKN 15, a limited (333 copies) one-sided 7" picture-disk that was only available at the concert.

Unsurprisingly, there was a long queue in front of the Flanagan's club, where more than 300 afficionados waited to get in. As soon as they had entered the venue the majority rushed to the tiny WKN merchandising stall to make sure they got hold of their much-coveted 7". In fact they seemed so obsessed by getting their record that most of them didn't even notice that the first act had started to play...

A solitary figure dressed in camouflage stood on stage with his back turned to the room, strumming his guitar. It was Douglas P.! The few spectators who were already gathered in front of the stage couldn't believe their luck, a surprise DIJ concert! Douglas played a short (too short in my opinion) acoustic set of seven songs, mainly taken from "All Pigs Must Die". Contrary to all my preconceived expectations, the songs from APMD sound really good live. But in such a context, is it really a surprise ?

Next on the bill was Tribe of Circle, who was to play his first concert. I must say that I had high expectations for this concert as I find this project's music very promising. Even more so, as Jean Paul had made it quite clear in an interview that his live performances would be something special because "there is nothing worse than seeing a bored audience watching you play !!". Well, if he thinks that standing behind a drum to highlight some samples is anything but boring for the spectator, then I must have missed the point.

A few collaborators would have added the extra stage presence that was cruelly lacking during this "performance" (indeed, the best part was when Albin joined Jean Paul on stage to provided the vocals to "Psalms of Repentance"). Unfortunately, the music wasn't strong enough to stand by itself and, after a few songs, the performance lost all interest, becoming boring even. A pity...

No sooner had the TOC concert ended than the members of LJDLP began to prepare the stage for the performance of "Croix de Bois Croix de Feu". To the right of the stage, the film "Croix de Bois" by Raymond Bernard was projected on a screen, to show the audience the daily life of the "poilus" (nickname given to French soldiers during the Great War) so that it could understand the hardships and the dangers they had to endure. Les Joyaux de la Princesse marched on stage, proudly wielding French flags emblazoned with a Croix de Feu symbol before turning round to present the colours to the audience. The performance could begin!

EK and V. stood behind their drums to beat out a martial rhythm to a background of looped frequencies and excerpts of old songs and speeches from the leaders of the Croix de Feu movement, which EK played on a phonograph. On one occasion EK came to the front of the stage to read a text that (for the French speakers at least) pointed out the tragedy of the Great Sacrifice.

After a while, the percussions stopped their relentless pounding whilst EK picked up an unusual instrument (an amplified gas mask canister). After a few gusts of battlefield wind, he started to play a slow solemn march similar to a Remembrance Day ceremony. He concluded this "ceremony" by reading a long passage from "The Wooden Crosses" by Roland Dorgeles after which he marked a minute of silence, in memory of the millions of young men who died, in vain, during the Great War...

To conclude the performance, EK set fire to a Croix de Feu symbol that he presented to the audience. Then, holding his blazing symbol before him, he cut through the audience to present it to the colours. A dramatic finale to an intense and unique performance!

But LJDLP had not finished yet. While the audience recovered its senses, Albin joined EK on stage in preparation of another performance. Together on percussions and with Albin providing the vocals, they began to play a few songs form Östenbräun.

Even if Albin's voice fits in well with the music, it is hard to listen to Östenbräun without thinking of Douglas. After two songs, he joined the duo on stage to sing "Nichts" before disappearing backstage. This exceptional moment was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, as DIJ and LJDLP had never played Östenbräun together before.

Now it was time for Der Blutharsch. As the intro music began, Albin and Martina marched onto the stage, torches in hand, to the fervent acclamations of the audience.

Whilst David set himself behind the drums, Albin and Martina kicked off the performance with "God Punish England". However, it soon appeared that things were not going as planned. Instead of the usual lyrics one could hear Albin cursing the sound engineer, before storming off stage hot on his trail, leaving Martina and David, unperturbed, to stoically carry on with the song.

Once the sound engineer problem was settled, Albin came back on stage and resumed the show. This "technical incident" certainly disrupted the flow of the performance, but it also added a palpable tension to the whole performance. Fuelled by this energy Der Blutharsch played a particularly tense and menacing set during which they played a few new songs. Songs from the new album or new tracks? Who knows?

To conclude this intense performance Albin stood at the front of the stage to read a text from a scroll that he then tossed to the frenzied audience.

As a finale, Douglas rejoined Der Blutharsch on stage to play a blistering version of "Où est Klaus Barbie". A fitting end to an exceptional night...

Text and photos:
Ian C.