Everyone has their traditions...and for three years now the tradition for this reviewer seems to be getting his goth-on every Winter for some incredible live music. December 2014 was Fields Of The Nephilim in Shepherd's Bush, London...last December was HIM in Nottingham Rock City...this year I travelled back to Nottingham, albeit slightly earlier, for the return of The 69 Eyes. Currently in the UK supporting The Mission who are celebrating their 30th anniversary, the Finn's took it upon themselves to play a couple of their own headline shows while they were over here (it has been a while after all)...and on November 5th, we find them at the Rescue Rooms. Let's see what happened when Noizze celebrated a late Halloween with the Helsinki Vampires...
Before we begin, I have to say that on this occasion, Nottingham was absolutely freezing; we're talking bitter cold, so instead of joining any sort of queue outside the venue and shivering our tits off, we set up camp in a nearby pub by the name of The Horn In Hand...virtually next door to the venue, we almost forgot the gig was on no thanks to a free-to-play Nintendo Wii with Mario Kart...nothing says don't drink and drive like trying to avoid red shells and banana skins in a
100cc kart with a pint of lager in hand...life lessons here...I was Donkey Kong...RIP Harambe...alas, tributes aside, we pulled ourselves away from the console to head into the venue, which we discovered hadn't sold out for tonight, making the occasion even more intimate than expected. There is one solitary support band this evening to get things underway and that band is Generation Graveyard  who despite all the best intentions, struggle to win over the early punters...
When they walk on stage, they certainly look the part and as soon as they begin to play, the London based mob hit the crowd with a barrage of sludgy death-punk madness, taking many by surprise who didn't expect such ferocity. The guitars and pummelling bass lines are deep, dark and melodic where it counts while retaining a heaviness more common in metal-based artists; these are some meaty riffs, especially on tracks such as "Abominate / Desolate" and "The Empty", these tracks have some solid foundations, but vocally, front-man Max is incredibly brash and over the course of their set it all simply becomes noise. He does mention that it's been a while, and there is some rather awkward silence between songs...generally they showed rust and it did no favours to both the crowd or the momentum of tonight's gig. On a side note we initially got their name wrong early on and thought they were the Graveyard Johnny's...necrophilia and condom jokes...nice.
Finally then, after a somewhat stumbling start, The 69 Eyes  grace the stage in their black leather and denim splendour to get this goth 'n' roll party started and mark my words they do so in style. With a career spanning over twenty years and a succulent selection of songs in their arsenal they rock the crowd from the word go. Older fans will recognise tracks such as "Wasting The Dawn" and "Don't Turn You Back On Fear" while those new to the band will recognise cuts off of the bands newest album "Universal Monsters"....tracks such as "Dolce Vita" and lead single "Jet Fighter Plane"slotting into the set with ease and feeling very much part of the family...but it's the classics from the bands definitive gothic era of the early 2000's that warm tonight's crowd...hits like "The Chair", "Gothic Girl", "Framed In Blood"and of course, "Brandon Lee" go down a storm...the band are in great spirits too. Front-man Jyrki is the quintessential gothic Elvis; his sultry baritone; he's snapping his fingers and strutting his stuff all around the stage with his shades on like a true professional, drummer Jussi, topless as ever is an incredibly charismatic sticks-man, in the midst of some personal war with his cymbals, while guitarists Archzie and Timo-Timo flood the room with their melancholic melodies...but the fun doesn't stop there. With an encore of "Lost Boys" everyone goes vampire-bat-shit crazy and they end the night on the perfect note.
Tonight has been absolutely fangtastic, and the funny thing is, after playing an hour and a half set, there are still plenty of hits they didn't play! If only... They rarely come to the UK but when they do, it's a goth-rock masterclass...Oh 69 Eyes; I do love the darkness in you.
Words: Gavin Griffiths
Photo Credit: Stevie Swarts