This is where I heal my hurts
"God is a DJ" - Faithless
If you've seen VNV before, then I'll just summarize by saying that Ronan was absolutely on and the sold-out Sinclair audience was totally into it. The tour was specifically built out of two of their albums (Automatic and Empires) so I didn't get to hear some of my favorites but the show was energetic and emotional and engaging and funny and very much like being at a party with 400 of your closest friends.
I can't find the earliest records in my blogging archive, but I'm pretty sure I've been going to VNV shows since 2005 and this was probably the second-best I've seen. The venue is good (if a bit small) and for the first time in living memory I was able to go without earplugs for almost all of it. VNV are not quiet and the music was loud, but not deafening.
The crowd was definitely a large part dressed-up goth/industrial but not a total sea of black. I happened to be wearing a gray tee shirt and I recalled that at our very first VNV show Pygment was able to find me because I stood out against the sea of black. This time I was visible but not uniquely so. It was nice to see a good share of younger fans there as well as several older familiar faces.
If you haven't see a VNV show I will contextualize by saying that Ronan does a running patter with the audience before and between songs. He doesn't want people just standing there staring at him - if you go to a VNV show you should expect to sing, dance, shout, move your body. Something to send the audience energy back to the stage.
The crowd at this night was very much in tune with that, and Ronan appreciated it. He remarked several times that he loves doing shows like this and he wasn't afraid to talk on stage about how the intensity of feeling from our side affects him emotionally. Of course, having him respond to us that way only encouraged us to participate more fully, leading to a great feedback cycle. There are a lot of electro-industrial acts out there and lots of them are quite good. But I don't know any other act that co-creates a show with its audience this way.
It's far from heavy and serious, though. Ronan is from Dublin and loves to joke about that and his Irish traits, including making a joke of everything. We were in stitches even before the first song started. The show has lots of little interludes of this banter. Here are a few that stuck with me from this show:
During the opening discussion, where he tells the audience about the participation he expects, and explains that people taking photos or videos need to keep their phones in front of their own faces, not high up blocking other peoples' vision, he asked for lights. The board op killed the stage lights and flipped on some plain white wash. Ronan said something like, "Oh, very good. Got it right and promptly for once."
*DARK* as the board op cuts the lights.
Ronan: Oh, so it's going to be like that, is it?
At one point he was teasing the younger members of the audience, saying there "...used to be these things called singles. And EPs." Then he went on to name-check Manray, not in the sense of "oh yeah it's a thing that people here will recognize" but talking about his own time there and how he misses it. Way to endear yourself to the Camberville goth crowd!
In talking up how people in the crowd liked VNV he noticed that the on-floor bartender was wearing a VNV fan tee shirt and Ronan mentioned how nice it was to have the staff liking the act as well. At which point the bartender held up a bottle:
Ronan: I'm from Dublin and I don't drink Irish whiskey.
*bartender puts away bottle*
Ronan: Now if you had some scotch...
*bartender pulls out another bottle and holds it up*
Ronan: Ah, that's the good stuff
He then goes back to his usual banter. Meanwhile the bartender pulls out a cup, pours several fingers of scotch into it, and passes it to a fan who passes it to another. Eventually it ends up in the hand of a female audience member (dressed like a goth ballerina) who clambers up on the speaker on the side of the stage and holds out the cup with a very Vanna White flourish. Ronan comes over and takes the drink, thanking "...the peat fairy."
I don't know if any of these things will translate to you, dear reader, if you were not present. Just take as given that the show was way more fun and funnier than you would ever expect an industrial show to be.
And Ronan says they'll be back next year with a new album. Can't wait
Cross-posted from Dreamwidth, at http://drwex.dreamwidth.org/965331.html. Please comment there; this journal is winding down.