|Cabaret Voltaire / A Guy Called Gerald, The Hacienda, Manchester, England
16th June 1990
CABARET VOLTAIRE/A GUY CALLED GERALD
GERALD walks on before the warm-up decks fade. There's no star entrance, no ego trip, just a sound attitude and a beat that is fast and furious. Keyboards swirl and sparkle within the steel network of machine-pulse basslines, hissing hi-hat patterns and tricky drum rhythms, but it's the idiosyncratic choice of sampling grafted onto the beat that give Gerald's music its unique character. A female voice rides out across this cityscape of beats; she sports a long white shirt and cascading hair, and is major sex. Gerald nods behind his boxes and leads, looking up occasionally to see what the crowd is doing. And (slowly) they are warming. He cheekily introduces his version of "Pacific", which definitely moves the crowd. "That was the original, by the way," he says with a grin.
A Guy Called Gerald shift The Dance laterally to see what happens. And it works brilliantly - for dancing to, not staring at, mind. They finish on a big fat lazy burbling bassline with a kind of funky drummer dry shuffle beat; a jigsaw of keyboard and warped voice samples hover overhead. "See yah," he says, as the lone cymbal fades to nothing.
The last time Cabaret Voltaire played here, there were loads of shadows with the funk bass and computer beat. Tonight, the shadows are gone. And, as the DJs stop, an eerie silence descends on the audience. It continues, as a blasted electronic soundscape unfurls before our ears.
Mal moves spasmodically and hoarsely whispers the words, arms and head jerking with the beat. He looks like one of those East European avant-garde animation film figures dancing to Hi-NRG. There's a massively magnetic charisma about him, almost evil in a way, perhaps part-machine. He is totally cool. Above him, a huge screen fast-cuts disjointed images from three film projectors - a disorientating mixture of abstract patterns, ethnic dancing, whizzing travelscapes and faces.
The Cabs are dance music. But it's a weird kind of dance, seeded with disorientation and doubt; an itchy self-conscious awareness filled with observations that smell of darkness and perversion. Old tracks, where they appear, seem to have undergone some major restructuring with techno-dance cybernetics. They sound good. Cabs never stay still.
"Hypnotised" doses proceedings with piping synths and Mal's agonised whisper over a large beat. Cabaret Voltaire - the place to go to hear the future. Still.
[Reviewer: IAN McGREGOR]