Such a really mixed review of the show last night at the Phantasy Niteclub. I was really excited to see Bauhaus and Love and Rockets founder David J. I have been a fan for years of the majority of his body of work. His new record is a little different taking bits and pieces of American blues and kind of like a German Cabaret sound. It’s interesting I guess. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either. It fits in the middle ground of almost novelty. He is touring this new record with Adrian H and the Wounds who serve as his backing band. To see David J in such an intimate setting was something I was looking forward to. I was actually looking forward to seeing a show at the Phantasy again just because I have such fond memories of the venue growing up.
The show got off to a late start. Doors were to open at 8:30 but due to some traveling woes of the band the sound check didn’t end until almost 9:30. Around 9:30 the fans starting lining up in the stairway just like I remember doing so many times before in the late 80′s at so many shows. I became almost nostalgic for that wait, but that feeling lasted about 5 minutes when it turned into annoyance like it did back in the 80′s. The Phantasy hasn’t changed much, if at all, in the better part of 25 years. It’s not a dump or anything, it’s like a timewarp more than anything. This is exactly what Cleveland clubs were like back then. The big ships still stand tall on the 2nd floor of the Cleveland club. The Bounty, the rear of a ship I recall sitting in many nights, was closed. The bar service was quick, however cash only.
The music started and DJ Textbeak was on before the show and between the sets. I never saw him before but from my understanding it was a big deal to have him play the show. I didn’t get it, but whatever, he didn’t get the crowd going, didn’t play anything remotely that this crowd would be into. It was a lackluster set at best, and honestly pretty boring. The first band came on shortly after 10 and played about 30 minutes too long of a 40 or so minute set. They are locals, Shadow Saints, and their sound is reminiscent of every other industrial band out there. I take that back, and I know they are locals, but I still don’t have to like them. I hated it. They had zero chemistry, played in front of a stupid folding metal divider that looked like something they bought when Borders closed. It was supposed to be a cage I guess, but to me just was an unnecessary prop. As a matter of fact they had way too much gear up there for what they were doing. It was weird 900 electronic devices for a bunch of sequencers. They had two singers that just looked really angry when they were singing, but the problem was the music was upbeat and dancey. It was like watching a pit bull attack with no teeth.
The second band out was Adrian H and the Wounds. I would have enjoyed this a little more stripped down. It was just too much noise. The lead singer, Adrian H, would make for a great Tom Waits piano player solo. He has a unique gruff voice that would be so much more fitting in another setting. The music is something out of a foreign cabaret, and included a cover of Chim Chim Cher-ee. The delivery to me was overstated and the lyrics at times were trying too hard to be risque like “Cookies and Cocaine” and many songs included sexual innuendo. I get what they are trying to do, and I think toned down it would be something out of Repo The Genetic Opera, but it just doesn’t work as a three piece. I think they were just too much on the creepy factor and the artistic part was stripped bare making it actually uncomfortable at times.
David J took the stage shortly after the Wounds set and it was a nice setlist of 30 years of work. Some of the songs worked well but unfortunately others, like “No New Tale to Tell” were butchered beyond recognition. The thing here is it was $12 to get in, and I got $12 worth of David J. I would have paid $50 to just see David J alone with an acoustic guitar though and that is where I thought the show misfired. He played a few new songs, and that was expected and they were again, more of a novelty for me. He was really into them and you could tell he truly enjoyed playing them. However the way he played the old material was almost as if he didn’t think he could pull it off solo. He changed many songs around adding more doom and darkness to songs that essentially are great pop songs. Earth Sun Moon was “that album” for me in high school. I loved that record, and what he did to No No Tale to Tell was pretty much an abomination. He did well with “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”, “The Dog-End of a Day Gone By”. They honestly were flawless. He ended with “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight”, and a pretty cool version of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. I can’t say it was the best of performances, but it was David J and that was good enough for me. He even waited at a table to sign stuff for fans. I just think he could have done so much better with so much less sound.