And once again VNV Nation killed it

Great set at Club Nokia last night, the fourth time I’ve seen them now — while I’d heard that this was to be the case, I’ll admit to a tiny smidge of disappointment over one thing: there were very few songs played from Of Faith, Power and Glory. “Pro Victoria” served as the introduction while “Sentinel” and “Tomorrow Never Comes” both got powerful run-throughs. But I was all kinda geared up to also hear songs like “The Great Divide,” “In Defiance” and “Where There is Light” — perhaps next time, though, as Ronan mentioned that they would be returning in November or so. Meantime nobody was complaining over performances of solid warhorses like “Darkangel,” “Beloved,” “Chrome,” “Honour 2003″ and more besides. The photo above is from the conclusion of “Perpetual,” as ever a fine way to wrap up the evening.

Ronan was in a very garrulous mood as well — a compliment! He admitted at one point that the jet lag was making him feel a little off but if anything I think it just translated into more fun with the crowd. (Highlights — noting the one guy on the balcony and wondering if his date had made him come, plus an extended break for drink orders from the rest of the band.)

Meantime something I’ve been keeping under my hat — without wanting to tell the whole story (it’s not mine to tell, really!), my friend Fern has become a big fan as well in recent years and so have her children, especially her son Logan, for whom the song “Illusion” in particular has meant much. To make a long story short, with much thanks to everyone involved, especially Ronan, Mark and the band’s manager Biggie, they all had a chance to meet up briefly before the show and I was on hand to snap a photo (that’s Fern’s youngest Moira there as well — her first concert, at seven years! And she loved it!):

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ronan briefly before and chatting with him a few times online; as ever he’s a warm and thoughtful fellow, and I don’t say that lightly. Chatting with Mark briefly was good fun as well, he’s no less a solid guy. Much thanks again!

I’ll conclude by recommending another of the amazingly detailed and reflective long-form interviews that Ronan’s given over the years that have left me very impressed, in this case for Dieselpunks.org. This just went up the other week and it’s well worth a detailed read, especially if you want to learn more about the overall sense of design and visual interpretation which has come to define the band. Also, you get to learn that Ronan’s been learning how to do the Lindy Hop with his girlfriend!

My VNV Nation reviews for the AMG are up

They’ve actually been up, but now that the new album has been released over in Europe and will be released here in a couple of days, might as well call some attention to them!

Ever since I became a fan of the group one of my goals has been to see if there’s a way to help them gain a greater profile outside of their general fanbase and musical milieu, so getting in reviews via the AMG is one of the bigger things I can do. Hopefully it’ll help.

The review of the Reformation 01 box set is here while the one for Of Faith, Power and Glory is here. To quote a bit of it:

Some bands make their mark from the get-go and never quite seem to escape that first burst of creativity, while others build on what they started with to reach newer heights over time. Over the course of many years and albums, Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson have proven themselves to be a stellar example of the latter, with the work of VNV Nation turning from a series of sometimes overly stern homages to pioneers of electronic body music to an increasingly warm and romantic approach combined with an equal love of rabble-rousing punk shoutalongs and stadium-scaled rave celebrations. Of Faith, Power and Glory continues a run of albums in this vein since Futureperfect and is arguably the pinnacle of the approach…

A first reaction to the new VNV Nation album ‘Of Faith, Power and Glory’

Of Faith, Power and Glory

I hope to have a formal review in the near future through one of my usual outlets. For now, then, simply some brief personal reflections:

As I’ve talked about on here more than once, VNV Nation has assumed particular importance for me in recent years — their song “The Farthest Star” in particular had a resonance for me at a time when I felt frustrated and burnt out on a number of fronts, and any number of songs from the Judgement album hold near equal power as well. The slew of live shows I’ve seen since have reconfirmed that, and the brief conversations I’ve been lucky to have with VNV mainman Ronan Harris have always left me thinking he’s quite a generous and friendly fellow. Meanwhile, I’ve also seen the personal impact his work has had on some friends I’ve introduced the band’s work to — it’s been refreshingly uncynical, for lack of a better term.

Of Faith, Power and Glory — which I’m well into my second listen here tonight, and I’m probably about to play it to death in the run-up to the LA show that kicks off the tour — feels like the logical progression in the run of albums starting with Futureperfect, as VNV have refined and focused their sound, at once of a larger piece and yet able to hit the individual mark nearly every single time. It’s a rare act that can constantly use familiar elements and never seem boring or repetitious about it — we all have our individual examples in other genres, I’m sure, but VNV is my current lodestone there.

As I said, more formal thoughts to be saved for a review first. Suffice to say I spent a good chunk of this evening dancing to this whole thing like a fiend, phrases are already leaping out at me from the lyrics as perfectly capturing states of mind I know or remember well, and I simply can’t wait for the show now.

VNV Nation at the El Rey, Oct 22 2008

Taken a couple of songs before a humorous but clearly honestly felt observation on Ronan’s part wondering what the point of spending a show looking through a video camera was. (I was just taking a couple of still shots so I was innocent…uh, yeah.)

More seriously — another great show from VNV, and as I hoped it was the kind of energy charge-up I wanted going into these last couple of weeks. “The Farthest Star” hit harder for me than ever before, and hearing it at this point just before the elections, given the importance of the song in personally reenergizing me on the social and political front last year, was only appropriate. Crowd was way into it, a lot of first time VNV showgoers (hey, I was one of them last year!), Mark Jackson spoke from the stage (turns out he’s from Depeche Mode’s corner of the world — well, Essex at least) and at one point a man wearing a Borat-style thong and a horsehead mask appeared onstage, utterly befuddling Ronan, who then told a hilarious story about an evil clown. My kind of all-over-the-place show.

Ronan also confirmed return appearances next year along with a new album. This is a very good thing. (Also had a chance to chat with him *very* briefly a little before the show — a friendly fellow!)

New in the OC Weekly — a piece previewing next week’s VNV Nation concert

We were trying to work out an interview feature but the timing wasn’t there! So my piece is more of an overall introduction to VNV for those who may never have heard of ‘em. The introduction:

Too often, all one has to do is utter a genre name, and the stereotypes fly forward. Say a band is “industrial,” and everything from people in black clothes beating on pipes to Trent Reznor wannabes comes to mind. In all cases, the image is of tortuous rage and depression.

That’s why VNV Nation, founded by Irish-born Ronan Harris and based out of Germany for many years, deserve far wider credit than they’ve received outside of their dedicated fan base. More than any other band tagged with the industrial moniker (purists consider them to be more of a sub-genre: EBM—“electronic body music”), VNV Nation match their relentless beats with a feeling of inclusive hope instead of solitary despair.

Can’t wait for next week!

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