Live Faust, Die Jung

Edwin Pouncey

NME, 7 Nov 1992

This concert was released by Table of the Elements as Faust Concerts II

London Marquee, London 1990

For their first UK appearance in 20 years Germanic rockers Faust chose London's notorious Marquee club as the venue to strut their stuff, surely the nearest equivalent they could get to the bowels of Hell! Maybe Faust liked the Marquee's decor, a strictly black painted warren with - in time honoured fashion - toilet facilities that backed up and flooded the floor with rivers of lager piss.

To be honest, the atmosphere was one of secret intimacy where most of the audience were still in a state of suspended disbelief that this was happening. On stage are a set of exxentric instruments, a bank of valve-powered electric equipment and a clumsily daubbed monolith that blocks out the familiar Marquee logo on the stage back-drop. After a long interlude that features some unrecognisable classical piece, Faust troop onstage and proceed to twiddle knobs, hit their strange percussion devices and strum an acoustic guitar. A feeling of warm-up is definitely in their air; a flexing of muscles that have not been stretched in public for some time makes up the first few minutes of Faust's extraordinary set, amd then all hell breaks loose!

Lead / bass guitarist Jean-Hervé Péron unstraps his double-necked guitar monster (an apparatus that allows him to play both styles with minimum effort) and holds up his hands in joy, "I'm so happy to be here," he enthuses, "with no product to sell and just to play the music." He then picks up a chainsaw, revs it into action and proceeds to carve the single word "RIEN (NOTHING)" out of the fake Berlin wall that towers behind them. His comrades, meanwhile, get to work with power drills and grinders, showerign sparks intot he front row and creating an industrial cacophony that mixes mysteriously with the piped classical backing track they've picked to accompany their hellish instrumental.

In the wake of Eisturzende Neubauten and, more recently, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (both of whom swing a pretty mean power tool) Faust's harware assault of the senses could easily be yawned off as nothing new. The thing to remember, however, is that Faust were first.

After a flexing of strained digits, Péron announces The Sad Skinhead from Faust IV. "It's basically against violence," he explains, "When you're violent you become very lonely, that's why I call this song 'The Sad Skinhead'." Faust plug back in and put the boot in with a vengence.

Equally fine is a snippet from The Faust Tapes, the section that has the words that go 'shake my buddah', or something. This soon tangles itself in a web of white noise and frantic improvisation which eventually has a hypnotic effect on the audience. Improvisation is what Faust do best, their understanding of how this most complex, interesting and beautiful music works is a sheer delight and a wonder to behold. Soon the fog of freedom is so thick that it is difficult to remember just what song they were playing in the first place. As if anybody cared.

After the dry ice had cleared for good, however, grumbles of disappointment could be heard rumbling from the Faust faithful. If tonight's exhibition was anything to go by, they moaned, Faust haven't been up to much during their long absence and have sadly allowed lesser talents to steal much of their thunder. "We'll be back," promises Péron after a closing bout of chainsaw frenzy. If faust return to creative hibernation this means it won't be until 2012 before they return. I can hardly wait.

Edwin Pouncey, "Live Faust, Die Jung", NME 1992