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Saturday January 13th 2007


Nik & Mrs Fiend - I Walk The Line

Nik & Mrs Fiend - Photo : Batmarc / Art : Nik Fiend


Nik & F(r)iends

The mysterious Gonzo

Nik & F(r)iends!

Mrs Fiend grooving in green...

All together now....

Paris photos : Cyril Banchetry


To quote the words of Mark E Smith of The Fall when asked to comment on the genius of George Best, a player he went to watch at Old Trafford despite being a City fan, "It's Art, innit".

On seeing the Fiends at Koko's in January after a couple of decades hiatus, I was drawn to a similar conclusion. The experience, taken as a whole, takes concert going onto a higher plane. The preamble, 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari', a film with expressionist architecture and high Gothic stylization, sets the mood. Gaunt mannequins with hollow cheekbones and lank long hair stumble about the fabricated set only to succumb to eventual and inevitable death or madness. And hey presto, as the spotlights caress the stage with its mad jumble of televisions, dustbins and clothes-shop dummies, a gaunt mannequin with hollow cheekbones, a vicar's collar and a top hat, stalks and stumbles his way through his own private asylum. OLD NIK IS BACK IN TOWN!

In its early days the Batcave club was the haunt of London's misfits; hard-core Goths, gay extroverts who loved the style, disenchanted Punks who wanted more than three chords and a smattering of tourists and 'ordinary folk' who had wandered in out of curiosity and stayed for the show. At Koko's it was wall-to-wall Goth! As if all the cemeteries in the vicinity had disgorged their cadavers for one final dance of the dead. They congregated outside in their hundreds and when the doors were finally opened, they teetered in on their platform soles in an attempt to gain a prime vantage point for tonight's show. There was no prescribed age range; teen and twenty somethings mixed freely with survivors from the early Batcave days, their common bonds being a de-rigueur adherence to a monochromatic dress and make-up code, a love of the macabre and of course, Alien Sex Fiend.

The Fiends opened with 'Smells Like Shit' and the ranks of the evil dead were immediately jerked into life, caught up in the vibrancy of the moment. And for the rest of the set - which included extended versions of 'Dead And Buried', 'I Walk The Line' and 'E.S.T. Trip To The Moon' alongside other longtime favourites - the assembled zombie army were mesmerized by the beats & pulses from Mrs Fiend and the sheer stage presence of Nik in his best disjointed puppet mode, augmented by some amazing freeform guitar accompaniment from Gonzo. Bones and skulls rained onto the delighted audience, a tug of war with a giant banana took place in front of the stage whilst Nik cavorted with a blow-up he/she sex doll on it.

Midnight and a twenty minute "Zombiefied" had long gone, but the vampires had no intention of returning to their coffins nor the zombies to their graves - they hadn't had their dose of 'Ignore The Machine' - yet! It finally came late on, in the much-demanded encore; and it was well worth the wait. Hypnotic and utterly contagious, the familiar riff kicked in and the Fiends kicked off. And for its duration the mass ranks of Goths were transported back to the eighties, back to the Batcave, back to teenage bedrooms with illicit vinyl, back to one of the most influential pieces of music to escape from the eighties underground... not just a Goth anthem, more a precursor of Trance, accompanied by some of the most surreal lyrics in musicdom.

It was a triumphant return, time has not diminished the Fiends, the energy and commitment remain undaunted, but the performance has now become a holistic experience. They don't polish their act, they don't rehearse the stage antics in case it spoils the spontaneity of the production, and this results in a truly unique spectacle. After all, "It's Art, innit".

The Wolfman Feb 2007

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