Liv Kristine and Raymond Rohonyi @ Underworld, Camden

Special show including THEATRE OF TRAGEDY songs
20th December 2015
Review by Jacob Ovington

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Over two decades ago Raymond Rohonyi and Liv Kristine helped define the gothic metal genre when they spearheaded the beauty and the beast technique, a contrasting combination of angelic soprano vocals and death growls that have since been used by countless bands. After crafting gothic metal from the basis of doom, they reached their pinnacle with 1998’s Aegis, an album that can only be described as the perfect balance between gothic rock and metal, taking the best from both genre’s and making it into something even better. After this, the band changed direction towards a more electronic style, before Liv’s departure. She went on to have a successful solo career and form Leaves’ Eyes, while Raymond continued with Theatre of Tragedy before they split in 2010. This tour was significant for many people, as it was the first chance to see them perform together, and the closest that many will get to seeing the original band live.

Providing support were Valkyre, a Belgian symphonic metal band. Their music was pretty standard fantasy and emotionally fuelled melodic metal. Looking at their background, they don’t have much of a discography under their belt. Maybe it’s because their music is still in its embryonic stage and is yet to develop fully, so they’re one to look out for in the future.

Valkyre setlist:

Stories
Mother
A Good Day To Die
Consolamentum
Wide Awake
Don’t Be Sad
Whispering Thoughts
Call Of The Valkyrie

The main set opened with Liv Kristine performing ‘Vervain’, the title track of her latest album which at the time of its release hinted at her desire to return to a more gothic sound. Raymond made his first appearance on the second song of the night, ‘Venus’. Opening with sublime pianos followed by its positively melodramatic descending chord progression, it’s one of those songs that strikes you changing your perspective on everything. It’s transcendent. Hearing it live and in its original form was a mind-blowing experience.

Delving back to the beginning of their play, ‘A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal’ comes next, the first song from their first album. It has a stronger death-doom influence, and while Raymond might have been off the stage for several years, he slips back into his role with ease. The intimate underground venue and the small audience create a feeling of going back in time, to when the band was new and this music was being made. It was like being transported back to the era when the genre was being born, and as someone who missed out on that it was something quite special. While music quite like this is no longer made, as Liv said last time I interviewed her, the flame is still there and it would be a shame to let it go out.

Another track from Vervain comes in the form of ‘My Wilderness’. This is followed by a tribute to one of the world’s great cultural cities, one that Liv has a lot of love for and one that has recently faced a great deal. ‘Paris Paris’ is dedicated to the victims of the attacks, many of which were part of the metal community.

‘Cassandra’ is another highlight from what is considered their greatest album, with its detached sound. Liv’s voice is also on top form, and seems to have become more refined over her career which only improves the music. The interaction between the two vocalists as well as the other band members added a great deal to the show’s drama, you could really tell they were feeling the music and what they were doing.

For such a small crowd I have never seen so much energy. Theatre of Tragedy is one of those bands that people get passionate about, they shaped an era so it’s understandable why. The magic that made the band was gone for so long it meant that all this energy and enthusiasm had a long time to build up.

Theatre of Tragedy’s more electronic tracks fitted into the setlist surprisingly well with everything else, as did her solo stuff. Credit to the band for playing such a wide range of music, and doing it just as it should sound. You’d think with the original instrumentalists absent it might be a bit of a hollow affair, but the sound and the atmosphere were spot on, and as I said before, it was like going back in time and having the chance to see one of gothic metal’s greatest bands.

As my last show of the year, I can’t think of a better way to end it, seeing Liv and Raymond reunited and performing some of the greatest Theatre of Tragedy tracks just as they should sound. I didn’t think I’d get that experience. Gothic metal fans had settled for the fact that it was all over, but now things have been reignited people are hungry for some fresh creative output from the duo. Will it happen? We can hope…

 

Liv Kristine setlist:

Vervain
Venus (with Raymond)
A Hamlet For A Slothful Vassal (with Raymond)
My Wilderness
Paris Paris
Cassandra (with Raymond)
On Whom The Moon Doth Shine (with Raymond)
Image
Panic
Let You Down
Siren (with Raymond)
Machine (with Raymond)
Black As The Devil Painteth (with Raymond)
Commute (with Raymond)
Love Decay
Der Tanz Der Schatten (with Raymond)

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