O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
At this point, Current 93 are no new proposition. The group has lurked deep within the English esoteric psyche since the early 80s, with founding-member David Tibet the sole constant in terms of personnel. His name inseparable from the group’s legacy – their London show is testament to that.
Support is provided by longtime collaborators Nurse With Wound, who deliver a set that’s markedly less odious than much of their recorded music – but no less psychosexual. The dark ambient pioneers have long borrowed from BDSM imagery and although this isn’t present in a visual sense tonight, it seeps into the music. There’s an erotic male energy to NWW’s set, the thrust of machismo swarms the room resulting something more suited to a masc4masc sex scene than a theatre. This obscure sensuality couldn’t be further from Current 93. Over the years, they’ve moved away from the tropes of industrial music to become deeply embedded in folk tradition. Albeit, using their position to mischievously dissect the whimsy of English traditionalism.
Tibet’s band bring along this irreverent nature and disturbing aesthetic to the show tonight, but the leaning towards horror is subtle. Their new album The Light is Leaving Us All, performed in its entirety for the first time, haunts the venue. Packed with visuals in the style of their new album art, the band perform in front of old photographs and portraits whose subjects literally have light pouring from soulless, white eyes.
This imagery encapsulates the show – the band seem enamoured by the presence of death as much as they are perturbed by it. They invite the audience to share this awe, with the imprint of mortality bestowed upon every poem and story Tibet tells. This is typified in the encore when Current 93 perform the song Sleep Has His House, a lament with the refrain of “have pity on the dead”. The moment is a fragile one.
All The World Makes Great Blood is one of a the few older songs performed tonight. It’s more ghostly and upsetting live than it is recorded – a vivid painstricken narrative where the rural bloodshed of the lyrics bleeds into the ambience. Although only quietly gory, the song is profoundly affecting. Perhaps this is Tibet’s lesson: emotional turmoil can sometimes feel distant, but it remains inescapable.