The Crüxshadows @ The Purple Turtle, Camden

WithAlterRed and Into The Ether
7th August 2013
Review by Victoria Fenbane

Florida’s gothic-pop troupe The Crüxshadows (CXS) returned for their annual round of UK shows, popping to London before departing these shores for another year or so. This year saw a line-up reshuffle and their youngest fan watching from the wings. There were supported by London acts AlterRed and Into the Ether.

Due to various organisational reasons Into the Ether start their set when a lot of their potential audience are still outside queuing, including this reviewer. Entry into the venue was delayed further by a decision to allowed punters with tickets in hand to jump the long queue, not a good move when people had already been queuing for quite a while and in this modern age where many people choose to collect on the door.

Anyway…..Into the Ether are pretty new synth-rock outfit comprised of 3 London based guys. Stevie Saint was drumming for AlterRed then they supported CXS last year, now he’s fronting his own band, backed by Ant Thrax on guitars and Matt Amorphosis on synths. Percussion is provided 90’s gothic style – via electronics.

For a relatively new act and considering their pedigree I was impressed by how tight they are live and how much I enjoyed them. Stevie can hold a tune and put on an eye catching performance. Soundwise they are 90’s UK gothic/indie crossover territory.

I was reminded of ‘Telemetry of a Whisper’ era Crüxshadows, along with such a mish-mash of 90’s acts such as Manuskript, Children on Stun and Rosetta Stone. They need a bit more fine tuning but show a lot of promise

AlterRed once again support CXS in London, personally I would have liked to have seen a different main support, to give more variation to the experiences of seeing CXS again.

The band has a constantly changing line-up, but the gimmicks remain pretty much the same. This is despite them recently splitting the band into two separate entities:

AlterRed are a electro-rock act, while AlterRed and the ElectroCreepshow is a cabaret act. Tonight we get the electro-rock act but there’s not that much difference for the usual AlterRed experience, except that the set consists of their harder songs. With each iteration they have pared down the actual musicians, so the live ‘band’ is currently comprised of just a live bassist and a sham keyboardist.

Flagged either side by manikin girls and Mikey stage center. If they are to exist as two separate entities, the electro rock act needs time invested in building an actual band, instead of a continuing with a stageshow desperately in need of a refresh…otherwise it will just be AlterRed on the cheap.

The electro-rock act incarnation sounds more like previous incarnation D.U.S.T than ever.
The recent updates may result in the band finally ironing out the glitches, if not we’ll have to see what further future changes bring.

The Crüxshadowsare a pretty darn consistent lot. Arriving on our shores on a near annual basis, sometimes with a dozen new songs, but this year without.

At the same time they are prone to frequent line-up changes. This year they’ve had yet another reshuffle, gaining a live drummer in the shape of tour manager, former dancer and frontman Rouge’s stunning wife Jessica.

Also there are two new dancers Ally Knight and Stacia Hamilton, who are much better coordinated with is each other than previous dancer duos, which I am guessing is down to Jessica choreographing them, while not dancing herself and having better viability of the performance.

The band storm though 14 songs pretty much non-stop.
Rouge makes good use of the scaffolding platform in the venue for this trademark climbing antics, sometimes making the crowd gasp with slightly dangerous stunts, such as siding several feel down a pole.

The crowd dutifully part for him when me makes his numerous walks though then, enraptured at being so close to their hero. At their show last year, latest album ‘As the Dark Against My Halo’ had not yet been released, but they played a lot of new material in their set.

This time round they play 8 songs from the highly successful album and they go down just as well as the older material. The crowd singing along (pretty badly) to everything and loving it!

Jessica has slipped into her role as drummer seamlessly, appearing as if she’s always been there. In fact the whole show seems tighter than ever, musicians and dancers coordinated with each other on stage and everybody in perfect shape.

There is the reoccurring question of just how much of this dynamic show is actually live, something hard to judge when the audience can get so up close and personal.
If I had to guess I would say Rouges vocals are definitely live for the latter 50% of the show but the difference is hardly perceptible….besides the fans don’t care. They have total buy-in to The Crüxshadows philosophy and tonight get to completely loose themselves for 90 minutes.

There is something about The Crüxshadows which makes any geeky, awkward gothic feel that they achieve what they want, if they just put their mind to it. This is in part down to the anthemic uplifting lyrics, but also down to the fact this group from Tallahassee, Florida have done pretty damn well for themselves with no commercial music industry backing. They have worked their butts off, playing small venues all over the world, so as many fans as possible can actually see them.

It’s not on those on stage who attracts fans’ attention during the shoe.
In the wings little Anmi (Rogue and Jessica’s daughter) watches the in the arms of her nanny, clutching a Hello Kitty toy. She bobs along to every song, tapping her foot. She knows every song of her parents music and is impossibly cute. It’s in some ways typical of the band that they should produce such a pretty and dynamic kid!

I have seen CXS well over 10 times and this was one of their best performances, despite never having a bad show. May they long continue and achieve the success they deserve.
Live, Love, Believe.