It’s good to see Canberran venue The Basement so full at 8pm on a Wednesday night. This show, originally slated to take place in Canberra’s Palace of Evil, dance music Club The Academy, has been transferred to the pub after the untimely demise of The Academy, but that hasn’t deterred the punters from coming out on a nasty cold Canberra night and cramming one of the smaller venues Brit black metal veterans Cradle of Filth will have played in a while.
After a brief but solidly entertaining set from locals Claret Ash, whose excellent third full-length came out last month, we focus out minds on the onslaught to come. Cradle of Filth are never less than entertaining in the live setting – in the twenty six years I’ve been seeing them live I’ve never once walked away feeling short changed – but the mind is exercised tonight by the fact that they’ll be performing with little or no ‘production’. This is just the band, in the raw as it were – and, in simple terms, they emerged triumphant.
Opening with Gilded Cunt from 2004’s Nymphetamine is a welcome surprise, the band hitting the ground running and whipping up a maelstrom of metallic grandeur from the get-go, guitarists Rich Shaw and Ashok, to use a technical term, riffing like bastards. Keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft, stuck up the back of the stage next to drummer Marthus, looks to be having almost as good a time as we are out front, whilst bassist Daniel Firth prowls imperiously, like Gene Simmons but with his own hair. And out fromt of course there’s Dani Filth, diminutive in stature but towering in heart and commitment to the cause. To say this is one of the most effective formations Cradle have ever deployed may invite argument and possible scorn from people who know much more about this sort of thing than me, but for tonight this band are in top form, and Canberra is eating it up.
Tracks from the new album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay fit in well with the old faves, especially a coruscating and utterly terrific reading of You Will Know The Lion By His Claw, a tribute perhaps to the cohesive nature of the ‘Filth’s songwriting over the years whoever happens to be in the band.
Her Ghost in the Fog and a valedictory demolition of From the Cradle to Enslave are other highlights, but there is quite literally not a weak moment throughout the set’s duration, and the band quit the stage leaving the Canberra crowd happily beaten into submission. Cradle of Filth have been at this game a long time, but tonight there’s a freshness and vitality to the performance that belies that experience. Genuinely exciting stuff.