London based band The Courtesans are up first. Speaking to guitarist Ben Thirkettle earlier in the evening revealed that frontwoman Eileen Daly and himself have been jamming on and off for a couple of years, although they only started playing with the bassist and drummer just over a week ago, with tonight marking their first gig as a four piece! Daly is, of course, better known for her appearances in low budget British horror movies such as the cult vampire flick 'Razor Blade Smile' and occasional music videos like Cathedral's 'Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)', and having already heard, and been underwhelmed, with some of her previous musical ventures, had low expectations for tonight's performance. However, with the band describing themselves as 'trashy glam gypsy rock and roll with dark tales in waltz-time and deadly swing-beats' (!!?!), I am intrigued and subsequently pleasantly surprised by what I hear. What Daly lacks in vocal ability, she makes up for in a charisma, and while she is not the most tuneful of singers, the dissonance of her punk-edged vocals are apposite for Thirkettle's grunge sounding guitar chords. Their music has overtones of Queen Adreena, and perhaps even more in common with Katie Jane Garside and Crispin Gray's former band Daisy Chainsaw, with an array of up tempo rhythmically infectious songs. Perpetuating her quirky persona, Daly points towards a music stand on stage which holds lyrics to the songs, as she informs the audience she can't remember all the words, though doesn't seem to refer to them once! With positive crowd reactions from the very small audience gathered to watch The Courtesans' short set, the band deliver a great performance, and are certainly worth checking out again in the future. Surprisingly enjoyable!
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Saturday 1st December 2007
The Slimelight in London, UK
A few minutes after 3rd Room exit the stage, and before Daemonia's eagerly anticipated appearance, Voluptua and Nurse KKK of the Satanic Sluts entertain the crowd for a few minutes, semi-naked, in what can very loosely be described as 'performance art' as they engage in mild acts of bondage with each other much to the delight of certain audience members. With a large crowd now gathered in front of the stage, it's a pity that the Satanic Sluts are able to attract a much larger audience than 3rd Room, although I guess Daemonia's appeal is not just for the metal fan, but also the horror aficionado who would apparently favour watching naked women over an Italian symphonic metal band!
The Slimelight/Electrowerkz is a surreal venue, with various rooms and corroded stairs - some of which perhaps lead to condemned parts of the club as black/yellow striped tape suggests access to these areas is forbidden. Somewhat resembling the set of a Dario Argento movie, it provides a perfect setting for tonight's headline band and brings to mind the back rooms in The Metropol from the Argento produced 'Dèmoni' to which Daemonia mainman Claudio Simonetti composed the main theme. It is, therefore, perhaps apt that as the Italian quartet take to the stage, 'Dèmoni' plays on screens either side, and they launch into opening track, 'Demon'! Mainly playing versions of soundtracks to 70s/80s horror movies which Simonetti originally scored with his former band Goblin (and as an individual composer when Goblin disbanded), Daemonia are fairly unique in the scene with their wide ranging appeal from goths and metallers to horror film fans who revel in such an opportunity to nostalgically indulge in listening to new versions of soundtracks from some of their favourite films. All of the classic Goblin/Simonetti compositions are aired tonight - 'Profondo Rosso'; 'Phenomena'; 'Suspiria' (which prompts the Satanic Sluts to appear once more); 'Tenebre'; 'L'alba Dei Morti Viventi' (from 'Dawn of the Dead'); and the truly sublime 'Opera'. Also included in the set are versions of other horror themes including John Carpenter's 'Halloween' score and Keith Emerson's 'Inferno' soundtrack. With Simonetti/Goblin originally inspired by bands from the 70s prog rock scene, the new arrangements have transposed comfortably into their latest renditions and sound, at times, genuinely heavy, aided by a balanced mix and fully resonant sound through the PA. Playing to a click with certain parts on backing tracks (such as the operatic vocals on 'Phenomena' and 'Opera', and Dani Filth's vocals on 'Mater Lacrimarum'), Daemonia are refreshingly tight and, for music that is primarily instrumental, a surprisingly an engaging live act, which is not only testament to Simonetti's compositional abilities of original, melodically captivating music, but also to the band's performance. Simonetti is a likeable 'frontman', relaxed and chatting to the audience between songs with charismatic humour; bassist Frederico Amorosi is an energetic performer and interacts well with the crowd, helped by his array of facial expressions; guitarist Bruno Previtali looks lost in his playing and impresses with some emotively absorbing solos; while the multi-talented Titta Tani (I last saw him singing with DGM at the Dutch ProgPower festival in October this year) is a skilled drummer and has a solo spot mid-set, affording him the chance to fully demonstrate his abilities. One downside of tonight is considering this is such a rare opportunity to catch such a unique band live in the UK (tonight is only their second appearance over here), and to witness first-hand the talents of a legendary film composer, it is a very poorly attended gig. I'm incredibly surprised to see only around 120-130 people - although among those present are Doug 'Pinhead' Bradley (from the 'Hellraiser' series of films), and Jonathan Ross' wife, Jane Goldman! Dani Filth was also supposed to be in attendance to provide live vocals for 'Mater Lacrimarum', the Simonetti composed piece from Argento's latest movie, though was unable to make it for whatever reason. Daemonia are an incredibly good, thoroughly enjoyable, live band, and I urge anyone who has the vaguest of opportunities to see them live to do so. Awesome!
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3RD ROOM; THE COURTESANS
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Second on stage tonight are Italian symphonic metallers 3rd Room, who are notable for featuring guitarist Robert Cufaro, co-founder of occasionally controversial band Theatres Des Vampires. A couple of songs into their set, and much of the crowd depart, perhaps favouring the bar over live music, leaving around only 20 people watching. This is unfortunate, as 3rd Room really are rather good at what they do, albeit fairly unoriginal. With a sound and compositional style that is not too dissimilar from 'The Silent Force'-era Within Temptation, they still perform with enthusiastic zest, despite the small numbers who remain to witness their set. The absence of live keyboards is perhaps a deficiency of their show although the Cufaro-composed orchestral arrangements on backing tracks are well mixed into their overall sound through the PA tonight. Towards the end of 3rd Room's performance, the stage suddenly fills with smoke in what initially appears to be a rampant, disfunctional smoke machine, though as the mist clears, gig promoter Dionisus stands masked and clad in costume to perform male vocals on a well executed cover of 'The Phantom of the Opera' (one could argue this is a cover of a cover as Nightwish originally heavied up Lloyd Webber's musical number back in 2002 on their 'Century Child' album). The cover also marks the evening's first appearance by two scantily clad members of the Satanic Sluts troupe, caressing Dionisus' legs as he sings. Overall, 3rd Room offer nothing new to the enduringly popular female fronted symphonic metal subgenre, although they stand out from the crowd as one of the better bands playing this kind of music, and are incredibly good in the live context. Formed only in 2006, 3rd Room are a band in their infancy and, based on tonight's performance, deserve great success so their music can be heard by a much wider audience.
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