Live at The Garage
The Sound Projector, 02 Dec 1996
Thanks to Fabio for tracking down this review. There exists a bootleg recording of this concert, and also an official release available on cassette.
The gods of chaos ruled for two nights. Wild and mysterious music plus action painting, a concrete mixer, a threshing machine, an engineer in arc-welding gear throwing out fountains of orange sparks. Faust are clearly able to play some of the most exciting avant-garde rock ever to enter the atmosphere, with an almost embarrassing facility, so why do they find it necessary to give themselves so many handicaps? No sooner was the musical performance beginning to warm up than everyone downed tools, and left the stage to perform sideshow antics; Jean-Hervé Péron stripped himself bare to attack a wall full of white master bags with his paint roller (these items were later used to sleeve the 12" record of their John Peel sessions, signed and numbered and sold at the gig for £20 a throw); and later he leaped into the audience to unveil the threshing machine which blew leaves and white muslim sheets all over the crowd, while that Faustian demon stood astride this machinery laughing like a madman. These events shouldn't dominate one's perception of the concert, yet these are the things everyone will remember. I felt they could have given the music more of a chance, as some of the performance struck me as excellent as anything they've committed to record. Supplemented by a very competent organ player and a guitarist who was occasionally permitted to let rip with some first-rate wah-wah induced solos, Jean-Hervé and Werner Diermaier left you in no doubt that they are the exhibitionist stars of Faust. The drummer this time cut a particularly impressive figure, three large toms upended before him like hideous steel canisters, a battered sheet of tin, a steel pipe held high above the head...all these were mercilessly pounded, while his aspect reminded me of nothing so much as the terrifying serial killer in Michael Mann's movie Manhunter - during a silent (apparently) segment, where he stood behind his battery of percussion and just glared at you. Other musical highlights included a rip-roaring Schempal Buddah (in response to audience demand), the use of a concrete mixer's engine as percussion track, a shimmering pearl of an acoustic guitar performance, and a bilingual ranting in French and German which generated that sense of panic and hysterical bewilderment that only Faust can deliver. The evening was not a complete loss then, but I wish it had felt less throwaway; they seem a lot more sure of themselves than at the Marquee gig, where Jean-Hervé had exhibited a child-like gratitude at being asked to play again, but there may be a downside to this new confidence. The 1996 model of Faust makes more knowing nods and winks at the audience ('You didn't recognise that song? It's a new one!') and also seems more equipped to make money out of us than before, not that I begrudge these mad geniuses a single penny.
Ed Pinsent, "Live at The Garage", The Sound Projector 1996, © The Sound Projector
ref: The Sound Projector