There is a very palpable satisfaction when a tour finally happens, as was the case when the legendary Dutch darkwave act Clan of Xymox commenced the long delayed tour of North America over the past month. It’s impressive enough that the band has been a consistent force in the genre for four decades, with 2020’s Spider on the Wall and 2021’s Limbo proving that Ronny Moorings and his compatriots haven’t run out of creative steam yet; alas, the lingering effects of global crisis continued to put a damper on touring plans, so one can imagine the simultaneous excitement and reservation audiences undoubtedly felt when the 2023 North American Tour was finally announced. But it happened… it actually happened this time, and after being postponed once or twice already, thank goodness for it.
The first leg took the band along the East Coast throughout March, with ReGen having had the opportunity to catch the show at two stops – first on March 11 at Soundstage in Baltimore, a venue has risen to become one of the city’s primary hotspots for goth, industrial, and metal shows, and then on March 14 in Greenville’s Radio Room. Though one of the largest cities in South Carolina, Greenville has the unfortunate luck of being stuck between Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA – two much larger cities with much bigger music scenes – forcing many with more alternative tastes to commute elsewhere for a concert; imagine the surprise of the locals, then, when the darkwave legends chose to descend upon the upstate to such an intimate venue.
Kicking things off in Baltimore was D.C. post-industrial act Vosh, a band that had been going through some growing pains over a number of years, known previously as Aertex before switching to the current moniker and releasing the Vessel
debut only a week prior. Amid the band’s thunderous and orchestrated clamor, vocalist Josephine Olivia crawls onto the stage like a feral beast ravening for blood, the crowd almost writhing in anticipation for the sonic kill. Elements of gothic post-punk and grating electro/industrial soundscapes merge with saccharine melodies that evoke the stylistic experimentation of early Siouxsie and The Banshees, Olivia’s movements sensual and serpentine, suggestive less of a lustful enticement and more of an assertive energy. Pat Vogel’s sound and stance on the bass is almost monolithic, while Tim Bean’s fluidity on the guitar possesses a shrouded fury that is matched by Chris Moore’s percussion. Vosh has such a command of sound and presence that one imagines it won’t be long before the band soon ascends beyond the opening slot.
Black clad concert goers were starting to fill the floor more readily now, with the Baltimore crowd seemingly itching to see The Bellwether Syndicate. Though the band’s name may not as familiar to those in attendance as some of William Faith’s past associations like Faith and the Muse or Christian Death, he and “Scary Lady” Sarah Rose Faith quickly asserted themselves with the energetic backing of longtime friends Stevyn Grey on drums, keyboardist Philly Peroxide, and The Brides guitarist Corey Gorey, all looking quite dapper and sharing the stage with the confident swagger of seasoned veterans. Spirited performances of songs like “We All Rise,” “Dystopian Mirror,” and “The Night Watch” were followed by Faith delivering a brief introduction of the band and his history within the scene, with Grey bearing the distinction of being his oldest friend and longest musical association, all earning howls of approval. Faith then led the band into a cover of Faith and the Muse’s “Sovereign” before closing with a raucous rendition of David Bowie’s “Scary Monster (And Super Creeps)” much to the delight of the crowd.
The lights dim, Daniel Hoffman takes to the laptop adorned with the band’s logo like an altar, and the pulsating kicks and synthesized bass of “Stranger” thrusts from the speakers. Keyboardist Sean Göbel joins, the track building in tension and anticipation… and then Ronny Moorings comes onto the stage strumming his guitar chords and wailing into the mic with a slowness that suggests he is savoring every moment. Mario Usai then joins for “Jasmine and Rose,” slinging his Rickenbacker bass in true rock star form, the song earning perhaps the strongest reaction from the crowd in Greenville.
Clan of Xymox was expectedly met with a hero’s welcome as the band treated those gathered to a lengthy career-spanning setlist, presenting a solid mix of classics like “A Day,” “Louise,” and “Back Door” with more club-oriented cuts like “Emily,” “She,” “Hail Mary,” and “In Love We Trust.” Despite the gloomy atmosphere cultivated by a darkwave concert, Moorings’ personality and sense of humor came through between each cut with remarks on the quietness of Greenville and amusing quips that introduced each song. However, perhaps most delightful was his quizzing the Baltimore denizens on their own goth history as the town where Edgar Allan Poe had met his end, followed by his issuing of the “Baltimore Challenge” to encourage and enliven the audience, demanding that they clap, howl, and congregate closer to the stage.
Well, you just can’t keep a goth down, and Clan of Xymox seemed in heightened spirits to be performing on North American stages again after so many misfires. After a series of U.K. and European dates, the second leg will see the band returning to our shores on May 31, running until June 16 and joined by longtime friend and touring partner Curse Mackey.
Article by Ryan James (DreamXE) and Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)
Clan of Xymox
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
The Bellwether Syndicate
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram