19th March 2019
Review and photography by Claudia Black
Oomph are a good live band!! Tonight they came back to the UK after, I think, a three-year gap to play a well turned out show at The 02 Academy in Islington with special guests Heldmaschine as support.
When I arrived to conduct an interview the queue was non-existent but when I came out to walk to the ticket office to collect my photo pass the queue had extended itself around the block past the Muji Store and down toward Oasis. I had just spent 30 minutes or so interviewing the band down in the basement, an interview that I think went really well. But at the end of it instead of being able to go to the stage area, dump my gear and then walk down to collect my pass, I had to queue with everyone else and then go through security even though I’d already gone through that when I went for the interview. This state of affairs annoyed me somewhat and I found it quite petty!! But on to my review…
Heldmaschine hail from Koblenz in Germany and are an offshoot of another project called Volkersball, a Rammstein tribute act. They have been assigned to the New German Hardship genre of music that came to fruition in the early 1990s. I’d not had the pleasure of hearing their output before tonight, but they put on a great show full of energetic and anthemic industrial beats that had the crowd singing along, jumping up and down and waving flags!!
Just like the band they were here to support there was plenty of easy charisma oozing from each member that wafted its way across the barrier into the audience on the other side!! There was also plenty of humour in the air, especially during the track Radioaktiv where vocalist Rene Anlauff held the microphone in front of drummer Dirk Oechsie’s face so he could refrain ”Radioaktiv” in a silly voice!!
Stand out tracks for me tonight were the aforementioned ”Radioaktiv”, ”Ich komme” (I’m Coming) with its abrasive guitar and ecstatically flowing keyboard accompaniment, and final track ”Weiter” (Continue) with its ominous but slightly humoured vocal. In total this set was around 35 minutes in length and the job was done!! The crowd were well and truly warmed up for…
…Oomph!!! This is the first time Oomph have played in the UK since 2015 and they certainly put on a great show tonight!! 23 tracks played over one hour and 45 minutes in front of a rapturous crowd that was totally engrossed in the proceedings!! The 23 tracks played came from a catalogue spanning the past 15 years, including tracks from their humble beginnings way back in the late 1980s in Wolfsburg playing EBM/Industrial tunes similar to bands like Nitzer Ebb, FLA, Einsturzende Neubauten and before their sound shifted in a more rock/metal/industrial direction!!
Just like the warm-up act, Oomph are heavy on the charisma and are easy to like. Dero jumped around the stage and rarely stood still throughout the set so getting a good photo of him did require a bit more work!! Sound wise I found the set spot on, neither too flat or overblown. That had to do with the fact that they’d set up their own mixing desk in front of the house desk and it was complimented by a stage light mixer also!! I saw Oomph last year at the Agra Messpark during the WGT Festival and in a venue notorious for poor sound their mixing crew did a good job of making a sows ear of acoustics sound like a silk purse!!
Oomph are a band that do their prep and take care of the detail, From the two experiences I’ve had of them live they are a well-oiled machine that does what it was designed to do, and that’s to put on a great show and entertain the crowd. They did that tonight and stand out tracks for me were Mein Hertz and Der Neue Gott from debut album self-titled Oomph with their Nitzer Ebb-like martial drum beats, hypnotic synths and spat-out razor wire vocals. They remind me of the late eighties and early nineties alternative club scene in London when it was still organic and energetic and a bit dodgy!! Later tracks in the set come from new album Ritual along with contributions from Monster (2008), Delikatessen (2006), XXV (2015) and GlaubeLiebeTod (2006). They include the stadium pleaser ”Tausende Mann Und Ein Befehl”, the ballad ”Auf Kurs”, the emphatic ”Gekreuzigt” with guitars oozing attitude, ”Alles Aus Leibe” with its grand orchestral gestures and the brilliant ”God Is A Popstar”, which recites the Lord’s prayer in a manner that draws out Christian hypocrisy!!
Apart from a few minor irritations that I have with the venue itself, I cannot fault Oomph and Heldmaschine at all!!