Date: 26 March 2018
Review by Bob Davidson
Photography by Ryan Whitwell / Shotison
WARNING: This review features images and descriptions of an adult nature.
For those who haven’t heard of it before, Coven has been in existence for nearly two years. It aims to be “London’s only immersive performance night inspired by the occult”, which is probably difficult to argue with.
It’s located in Slimelight. I imagine if you’re reading this that Slimes needs no explanation, but just in case, it’s the world’s longest running goth club, so far as I understand. If you need directions, you come out of Angel tube, turn left three times and it’s behind the bins. Anyway, we rocked up around 8pm (turning up to Slimes in daylight is bloody weird…) ready for the first act.
After sourcing the obligatory beer and seat, we were entertained by DJs Parma Ham (a Lilliputian fellow, who is literally 50% hair, and apparently having an argument with the EU for the rights to his name [didn’t want to ask about Brexit]) and Dani Darko.
Somewhat fittingly they played Danse Society’s ‘Heaven is Waiting’ whilst we … well … waited.
First up were Foxy and Lucius – the couple who run Coven. No description of their appearance could really do them justice, but at a push, on this particular evening, I’d say Foxy was a dapper Uncle Fester (the College years) and Lucius some sort of Pagan royalty.
Foxy was on the theremin – which he had only owned for three weeks, and given that the theremin is notoriously difficult to play, this is bloody impressive – and Lucius the violin (I’m guessing he’d had it for more than three weeks). Together they conjured an abstract version of something I found reminiscent of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It was enthralling.
Foxy then proceeded to perform ‘Black Friday’ as a theremin solo (see above, wtf?) with a background of politically charged images. He described it as a ‘postmodern zombie performance’. It was as deliciously pretentious as it sounds, but with the right level of humour and insight to mean I was genuinely a little sad when it ended.
I suggest you see the video of Arran Shurvington’s ‘Nosferatu’ here. I don’t really recommend people go on bollocks like BGT, but in this case I’ll make an exception as I’d love to see what they say. He moves, (deliberately) comically, with the grace and limberness of a well-trained ballet performer, to various pop music, dressed as Nosferatu. It’s fucking fantastic.
Nicoletta Wylde then gave us a somewhat harrowing, powerful and vaguely erotic reading. It was in all parts moving, and as much reminiscent of abuse as anything else. I’d hate to transcribe meaning on to something, but you can, and should, check her out.
There’s an ineffable quality that people either have or don’t when giving spoken word type performances. Nicoletta has it.
Elegance and Violence then performed a wonderful BDSM performance, involving one cutting the other out of a black bin/body bag cocoon (and quite a lot more). I found this possibly the most compelling piece of the evening. Taught, with a sense of dread, it was delivered with panache and managed to avoid the pitfalls of basic cabaret titillation.
Deadcuts finished the evening off. Should you not be aware of them, they’ve supported some seriously big names and have a very cool post-punk sound, but with an energy not often seen.
I remember thinking that they reminded me a bit of Junior Manson Slags, but I’ll be honest, I was relatively shitfaced by this point, so perhaps not the best yardstick.
I will say they rocked and I thoroughly enjoyed my little boogie clutching a can of Red Stripe.
I’ll be Spotifying the shit out of them in the very near future.
Then it was Slimelight. And we all know how that goes. And how it ends: far too late on the Sunday night with a load of randoms in your living room.
Every time I used to go to Slimelight (very rarely now) it would always be as much about the getting ready as the actually being there. You’d spend all Saturday evening at home, putting on tunes etc, then finally make it around 1am. For God’s sake, if this is still you, don’t do that. You’re missing a spectacular array of acts – some foetally new, some well-established – ready to give you an unforgettable arty, musical and philosophical experience. The beauty of evenings like this is to share experiences that are simultaneously ephemeral and eternal, offering a real vestige for creativity and experimentation in an increasingly corporate and commercial world. Good on Foxy and Lucius for striving to keep evenings like this going.