Photos: Patrice Hoerner
By the time we reached the third day of the festival, we were already feeling a little tired from the previous two days, but also sad to see that our stay in this musical paradise was coming to an end and that we had to make the most of the day before the music stopped. Sunday had, in my opinion, the strongest line-up and not even the last minute change of Dance Society for Red Zebra lowered the level of the day. Sadly, there was a smaller crowd compared with the previous days and many people went home before the end of the day, thinking that they had to work the next day.
We started the last day as we would have liked to end the previous ones: in the Batcave. But I am not getting younger and seeing all the concerts of the day to write this chronicle is tiring, so I couldn’t stay late to dance with the already popular DJs. On this occasion, Waje, legendary Spanish DJ, was going to do a set that wasn’t as experimental as the last one we saw at the Ombra Festival and more focused on the dark music of the eighties that saw the birth of the original Batcave. We eagerly came to see him, although we weren’t the first to arrive, as Dirk Ivens, perhaps attracted by the songs, perhaps because he recognised Waje from the Barcelona festival, had already approached to greet him. When we finally arrived, he was playing a classic, Minimal Compact’s “Nil-Nil”, which was followed by Love and Rockets‘ “If There’s a Heaven Above”. As a good DJ of the time, he played maxi versions as was common in the eighties. We also listened to a track by the great Jah Wobble with his Invaders of the Heart, Ledernacken‘s “Ich Will Dich Essen”, great tracks like the Revolting Cocks‘ “Stainless Steel Providers” and Killing Joke‘s “Ecstasy”. At that moment we greeted Rene Hulbosch and Alexandrina Alves from the Belgian band Struggler, who came to the Batcave to dance a few songs. Waje also played some tracks by Pink Turns Blue and one of the first EBM tracks made in Spain, the magnificent “Ultraviolencia” by Kalashnikov. Another nod to Spanish electronica was when he played Jah Wobble‘s track with Jaki Liebezeit and Holger Czukay which served as inspiration for our Megabeat‘s “Es Imposible, No Puede Ser”. Waje really managed to transport us back to the eighties, it was like being the original Batcave or in any discotheque of the mythical Ruta del Bakalao. For an hour and a half he reminded us how fascinating and original the dance music of those years was. Impressive.
Waje’s performance was part of the Ombra Showcase that the Barcelona festival organised for this year’s edition. We remind you that you can listen to both Waje’s session and the next one by Ed Warner in our Mixes section. As we already told you, Ed, as well as collaborating with Ombra, is the head of the M.U.S.A label, from which we recently bought the Spoiled Drama reference. The Catalan DJ follow the same vibe as Waje with a session of select eighties tracks in which he demonstrated his extensive knowledge of the music of the decade. We saw the beginning of the session, with F-15‘s “Feel the Beat”, Pankow‘s “Kunst Und Wahnsinn” and “nGUU (Petite Fugue)” by the Belgian band à;GRUMH… But, as I said, you can listen to the whole session in the corresponding tab.
Meanwhile, on the big stage played Websfeer, a cover band we saw at W-Fest 2021 and who were also in charge of closing the previous Sinner’s Day.
So the first concert we really saw was that of the legendary musician Dirk Ivens who played with his project Dive. For the occasion, he had Jan Dewulf (Diskonnekted, Mildreda and Your Life on Hold) on keyboards. The years do not pass for Ivens and once again he bewitched us with the tremendous intensity that he and his music transmits. He focused his performance on his latest album Where Do we Go from Here? which features a beautiful photo of him taken by Patrice Hoerner, whose material also embellishes this review. From that album, he rescued the song “Death Machine”, with which he began, and which was followed by a composition from his previous album, Underneath, a record we also saw him perform at another festival of the same promoters. Dirk Ivens took us by the hand on a magnificent journey through the most risky and exciting electronic music. The concert continued with the minimalist, hard and powerful “Something”, a fantastic “Leave Me Be” and hard-hitting version of “Blood Money”. We enjoyed the industrial sounds of “Power of Passion”, we were amazed with “Wheeping in the Dark” and he looked to the past to rescue Klinik‘s classic “Pain and Pleasure”. The concert ended with “Let Me In” and “Sacred Skin”, two absolute hits. One of the best of the festival.
The next act to appear on stage were the Belgian classic punk band Red Zebra. For one reason or another, every time we’ve been to one of these sponsors’ festivals, be it W-Fest or Sinner’s Day, we’ve always seen Red Zebra live, and this was our fifth time. But well, we’re not complaining because it’s a band we always enjoy. As a novelty they had a new guitarist. The bass line of “Agent Orange” warned us that the concert was starting. Peter Slabbynck’s band released their first works at the beginning of the eighties and already in those records they mixed their peculiar Belgian humour with the feeling of the time. Thus, you can sense some fear and paranoia in “The Ultimate Stranger”, the song that followed, which also features guitars that wouldn’t have been out of place in any work by PIL.
They continued with their setlist full of songs the audience already knew well: “T.V. Activity”, “Shadow of a doubt” played as usual with a snippet of “This is not a love song” from, of course, PIL. During the classic “I am falling Apart”, Peter showed off his T-shirt which read “We are all going to die”. They followed with their big hit, “I can’t live in a living room”, a moment much celebrated by the audience. “Innocent People” made us focus on his wonderful bass line while on “Man comes from ape”, Peter pulled out a banana which he ate as he sang. As a fan of The Sound, I really enjoyed their version of “Winning”. They finished with the fantastic “The Art of Conversation”. Very good as always.
We sat for a while and when we looked up at the stage, we found it was presided by three coffins. There was only one band that could play now: Nosferatu. Like any band that boasts the influence of The Sisters of Mercy they came with drums programmed and ready to reward us with almost an hour of pure Goth rock. They started with “Darkness Brings” which was followed by “The Gauntlet”. Although the daylight was shining, they knew how to wrap their songs in darkness, like “Abominations”. After “Wiccaman” they presented a new track which had a very classic gothic sound and was amusingly called “Four weddings and a vampire”. New singer Tim Vic’s performance was great on songs like “Alone”, while Damian Deville proved to be a great guitar player. They finished with “Witching Hour”, a good way to end this homage to Goth rock.
It was time for one of the highlights of the festival: The Stranglers had given one of the best concerts of W-Fest 2019 and although they no longer had the classic keyboard player, they were there to show that they are a simply infallible band. Jean-Jacques Burnel’s bass plays a major role in the band’s sound and they showed it right from the start, with a powerful “Toiler on the Sea”. They followed with timeless hits such as “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)” and “Something Better Happen”, the latter sung by Mr. Burnel. Baz Warne, the “new” singer, showed a great sense of humour at all times, whether it was greeting the audience with a “Goood evening, France” or joking about those who were following the concert from the VIP stage. Like so many of the bands we saw at Sinner’s Day, The Stranglers have quite a strong set of songs that together with the band’s impeccable execution make their performance at a festival always a success. They continued to demonstrate their mastery with “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy”, the hit “Always the Sun” and a “Golden Brown” that everyone recognised from the first note. The classics continued in the form of “Peaches”, Jean-Jacques Burnel was on vocals again during “White Stallion” and they proved they were still in perfect form and gave off incredible energy with “Hanging Around” and “Tank”. “No More Heroes” was the finishing touch to another great show.
If we said before that there wasn’t much audience, we can assure that a good part of the audience was there to see Stabbing Westward. Next to me, on the left of the stage, there was a group who knew all the songs and were having the concert of their lives. As guy who grew up nineties, I knew the band back in the day and always liked them, so being able to see them here after almost 20 years without visiting Europe was a great incentive to come to the festival. They opened with a modern song “Damaged Goods” which is part of their Chasing Ghosts album. The band sounded like a blast and had a thunderous volume that helped to get us more into the show. During “Falls Apart” it was evident that not only was the crowd enjoying themselves, the band could tell they were having a good time. They followed up with “So Far Away”, the great moment of “What do I have to do” and a great version of The Cure‘s “Burn”. Christopher Hall, the singer gave it all in every performance, but especially in “Dead and Gone”. After all these years he is still in great vocal form. A moment that the audience will certainly not forget was when during “The Things I Hate” he got down, first on one side of the stage and then on the other and sang along with an ecstatic audience. They finished with a powerful “Shame”. It was worth the years of waiting.
We are not sure what we saw during Aesthetic Perfection‘s concert, so we prefer not to give our opinion of it. I will simply comment that they put on a good show with all three band members in costume. They started with “Gods and Gold”, played some of their latest singles like “Sex” and “Automaton”, the crowd danced to “Antibody” and made some stops on their albums A Violent Emotion and Blood Spills Not Far From the Wound.
After the break to change the equipment Merciful Nuns appeared. They are the band with the most complex concept in all Goth rock. If you like this music for its depth, it’s hard to find a band that goes further than the Nuns, as their lyrics and imagery always have several layers of meaning. Still, their concerts, though dense, are thoroughly enjoyable.
With the necessary darkness, the trio appeared, who, like Nosferatu before them, had their drums programmed. They started their set with the atmospheric “Kvultan: The origin”, a powerful and guitar-driven song. They continued with the epic “Blue Lodge”. They reminded us of their love for The Sisters of Mercy with “Body of Light” and returned to the epic with “Karma Inn”, a song with a great guitar riff. If we were talking about epic in the previous track, “Broken Column”, it was just that and more. A more atmospheric moment came with “Black Halo” and they gave us a Goth rock lesson with “Allseeing Eye”. The intensity reached its crescendo with “Down Dark Hallways” and we marvelled with the bass of “Eternal Decay”. After a short speech they played the solemn “The Pyramid” as a grand finale.
The final cherry on top of the cake and one of the unmissable dates of the year was to see the return of Aroma de Amore after their stop in 2016 in what was also going to be the last concert of the band. Sadly, at that time there weren’t many of us, as people had to work the next day. But the band was not discouraged by this and gave one of the best concerts of the whole Sinner’s Day. They appeared in quintet format, with sax, two guitars and bass. They started with the angular rock of “Overleven”, and continued through their discography with funkier songs like “Een hoofd in de supermarket”, the nervous “Het gestich” (with an important role of the saxophone), the powerful “Een Taal Is Een Stripverhaal” and the slow and intense “Sporen van lisa” with great guitar work. “Plaatsje onder de zon” transmitted a kind of sense of danger and we enjoyed the pure post-punk of “De Aarzel”. “Nv verdriet” was presented as a waltz, while “Een Mens Met Een Mes” sounded more like sophisticated eighties rock. Sadly, they had to finish as the police had arrived and asked the band to leave the stage without being able to finish their set. How right were Spanish punk band Eskorbuto when they sang that “Too much police, not enough fun”.