Review: Einsturzende Neubauten in Dublin – with Photographs

I’m such a fucking fan… photographs, and a review…


On Sunday night, Einstürzende Neubauten came to Dublin. And just 10 minutes after the gig, I had my hands on a double album of the gig, burned to CD in realtime. I’m listening to it as I write… the quality is remarkable.
The Temple Bar Music Centre was packed with Neubauten fans, and the atmosphere was thick with anticipation. With the band piled onto the tiny stage, Blixa apologised for the lack of instrumentation – they just didn’t have room for it. It’s Neubauten’s first Irish gig in their 23 year history… and they’re already promising a bigger stage for next time.
I had a photo pass, so I spent the first three songs in the pit, rolling around, squeezing off b&w film rolls, and get an eyeful of the band’s collection of makeshift instruments. The music was hitting me full in the chest… there’s a resonance to Neubauten’s music that doesn’t deafen instead, it shakes up your gut. It’s warm, visceral music, full of clanks and mechanical screams. Even their ‘quiet’ songs, like Dead Friends (Around the Corner)‘ are laden with layers of industrial soup, pulled together from the two-man percussion section, and the iconoclastic utilisation of ‘normal’ instruments like the guitar and bass of Jochen and Alex.
The third number was Redukt, from Silence Is Sexy, a lengthy epic, with bursts of energetic percussion driving through waves of bass and guitar howls. I head back from the stage, eventually finding a perch to shoot more from. Up here, above the protection of the crowd, the bass and percussion is shaking my teeth. The audience below me are swaying and smiling. There’s a cohesiveness here, a shared experience, brought on up the intimate nature of the gig. Afterwards, Alex Hacke is said to have commented on the quietness of the Irish crowd, and was a little worried about it. From where I was, everyone looked engrossed.
After an NYC show in 1998, Blixa said ‘Of course it is, All about Love… Its always been, All about Love. That’s why we are different.’ What? Germanic musical industrialists talking about love? Well, I can see the sense in it. Neubauten dig deeper, show more of themselves. There is no ‘act’, they put themselves on the line. It’s an act of trust, that is reciprocated by their fans.
It’s occurred to me that in, one of their heaviest pieces of music, Headcleaner from Tabula Rasa, Neubauten sample ‘All You Need Is Love’ to great affect. I’m sure the Beatles would approve.
Neubauten seem to be more than just about music, or about performance. Their only artifice seems to be in the mechanical engineering works… artistically, they’ve transcended mere performance. They live the music. And for a brief couple of hours, so does Dublin.
But back to the gig… EN break into Perpetuum Mobile, a 15 minute an ode to the non-stop traveller. They invoke the ‘aircake’, a stack of polystyrene and Pepsi bottles, played with some kind of power tool. Andrew runs around the stage, smacking gold covered boxes on ribbons against the floor, amidst the layers of Rudy’s woven metal percussion, and Alex lays down a big dirty baseline.
The band are visibly interacting with the audience, and between songs Blixa is engaging in daft slagging sessions with one of the roadies, who is apparently doing a Phd. in Theology in Vilnius. According to Blixa, this chap, who was man-handling plastic tubes onto the stage, is trying to prove that God is a pipe, and failing miserably.
While this discourse is in English, Neubauten sing mostly in German. I don’t speak German, but I don’t care – I’ve read Blixa’s lyrics in translation… they’re often cerebral, but in a world of R&B and boy-band hell, this is hardly a bad thing. With Neubauten, the music isn’t there to back Blixa’s lyrics – his singing is as much an instrument as the guitar or coil-spring drums, or the aircake.
Every instrument – Blixa’s voice being one of them, works cohesively and in a complimentary way. Bizarrely, for a man in his mid-forties, Blixa’s bansheee screams raises goosepimples, and can sound like a traditional throat whistler.
They play Haus der Lüge , a classic golden industrial oldie, then slow it all down for the tense, nervous Armenia… There’s a slight pause then, while Blixa explains that they’re swapping the CDs, for the live double album of this gig, available after the show. Some wag shouts out ‘you’re some man for one man’. Blixa gets confused, doesn’t understand. ‘Is that a compliment?’ The crowd shouts ‘yeeessss!’.
The second CD begins again with Seltener Vogel (A Rare Bird), a song that Neubauten almost abandoned, but their supporters on neubauten.org encouraged them to complete it. Then the eerie ‘Sabrina’, with its weird, slightly disturbing lyrics:
It’s not the red of the dying sun
The morning sheets surprising stain
It’s not the red of which we bleed
The red of cabernet sauvignon
A world of ruby all in vain
It’s not that red
It’s not as golden as Zeus famous shower
It doesn’t come, not at all, from above
It’s in the open but it doesn’t get stolen
It’s not that gold
It’s not as golden as memory
Or the age of the same name

Selbsportrait mit Kater (Self Portrait With Hangover) is a an examination of the ins and outs of drinking, with big rubber percussion sounds:
It’s often in the morning
my hands are shaking
my face
it doesn’t belong to me
Water! — comes nearly like a shock to me
I can’t take it quietly

When they come on for an encore, Blixa tells of Neubauten’s problems with Some Bizarre records, and the label’s owner, Stevo, who apparently screwed them over. As a form of hex on Stevo, they perform Grundstück (Floorpiece), a beautiful melodious cacophony of bells, played on pieces of metal – with all band members sitting on the floor.
At Neubauten concerts, the band always introduce a ‘rampe’ – a new piece that is a work in progress. Sabrina was originally performed as one, but this time round it’s November, which has a sort of a retro-industrial feel to it…lots of rumbling base, Blixa’s voice almost submerged in sound…
They bring out an array of pipes. ‘From our spring collection, 2004’ quips Blixa, Rudy’s out playing them, as they roll into the rising and falling crescendo’s of Ende Neu. The disappear off stage after clicking down a few gears with Alles.
Afterwards, people don’t want to go home. The merchandising stand is mobbed, and band members are walking around grinning, signing CDs, programs, t-shirts. I turned into a complete fan, chasing autographs. At my age!
And 36 hours after the gig, I’m still buzzing.
See the full set of photographs »
All photographs are © 2004 Dave Walsh. If interested in using any of these images, please contact Dave Walsh. High rez versions are available to purchase.
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
Einstüzende Neubauten
See the full set of photographs »
All photographs are © 2004 Dave Walsh. If interested in using any of these images, please contact Dave Walsh. High rez versions are available to purchase.

daev
Chief Bottle Washer at Blather

Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and “known troublemaker” Dave Walsh is the founder of Blather.net, described both as “possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River”, and “the nicest website circulating in Ireland”. Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


3 comments

  1. good review chief – had a similar experience at a Young Gods concert back in 93. Three weeks after the head was buzzing with soundscapes of tumultuous deflorastation

  2. Great gig alright. I brought a few Neubauten virgins along and they really got into it.
    I’m not as familiar as our esteemed host with Neubauten’s back catalogue, I do have the usual collection of badly duped tapes and a vinyl copy of [i]Haus der Lüge[/i] bought shortly after the last Neubauten gig I was at (Munich, ’89). But for me, and the neophytes, familiarity didn’t matter – we were at a performance.
    One thing I did miss at the gig – the CD’s of the show were ausverkauft by the time I worked my way to the front of the queue for Merch. Any chance of a copy Blather?

  3. Fanatastic photos daev.
    And a really good review as well.
    Like Bin I brought along a friend who had never heard Neubauten and he was blown away.
    Afterwards we went for a drink and he couldn’t stop talking about what we had experienced.
    It’s so long since i have been to a gig that has had the power to induce such a physical and mental buzz.

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