An ever-evolving and progressive entity in all aspects of her artistry, from song to stage and everything in-between, Emilie Autumn's latest touring spectacle sees her show take another step closer towards a more theatrical-based aesthetic. And with a planned residency in London's West End next year where the promise of a full-on musical production will finally be unveiled, it's a natural progression for her currently peripatetic Asylum. In essence, it's the same potent amalgam of innovative music, slickly executed choreography, cognitively provocative drama, vaudevillist interludes, incisive satire, glitter, cake and tea, which all unfolds within the anti-repressive haven of Emilie's gloriously subversive world although, since last year's European tour, there have been some significant changes. Immediately noticeable is the stage set which has seen the large, illuminated clock-face replaced by the Asylum gates. Time still features as a small clock is mounted atop this impressive Gothic structure which is, appositely, set to four o'clock although, following the staple 'Best Safety Lies in Fear' intro and entrance of the Bloody Crumpets (just two this time; Captain Maggots and Naughty Veronica), gone is the insomniac-themed opening. Instead of '4 o'Clock', we now have Emilie in battle-mode from the off with a compelling rendition of 'Fight Like a Girl' which is swiftly followed by 'Time for Tea', a song that's rife with implicit symbolism as the civilised beverage is transformed into an empowerment metaphor and emblem of revenge. The thematic tone then abruptly changes as the short instrumental piece '4 O'clock Reprise' plays through the PA and the Crumpets strip Emilie of her mask/mohawk combo which signifies a narrative regression and effective segue into the sorrowfully melancholic 'What Will I Remember?'
As the show's narrative unfolds in Nottingham tonight, the majority of tracks from last year's 'Fight Like A Girl' opus feature in the setlist (with the inclusion of just one 'Opheliac' song, 'The Art of Suicide') in what transpires to be another emotionally captivating journey in the company of Emilie and her Crumpets. And with said album only one third of the overall soundtrack that will form the musical in its entirety, one can only speculate as to the prodigiousness that lies ahead in London's Theatreland next year. As the show stands at the moment, it articulates a whole gamut of emotions through music, performance, and narrative, including some menacingly dark and sinister moments, overtly so during 'Scavenger' which is reified in the form of a masked and costumed Maggots on stilts that engenders a few gasps from a number of audience members. However, as darkness and abjection give way to hope and exaltation, the show climaxes with a message of optimistic fortitude in its final song, 'One Foot in Front of the Other'. Just as Emilie has created beauty from adversity through her art, the show's narrative adheres to such a path. An emotionally heterogeneous experience throughout, it's not just beauty that's born from adversity but, rather, beauty and optimism that triumph over adversity as Emilie marches forth in her philanthropic crusade. And it's a message of optimism that's consolidated as the ladies exit the stage, house lights go up, and Eric Idle's 'Life of Brian' classic, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life', plays through the PA. Positive vibes are ubiquitous within Rock City by the end of the night as I see nothing but smiling faces as I exit the venue.
Saturday 24th August 2013
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Emilie Autumn at Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 24th August 2013
Photograph copyright © 2013 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com