On this night, the Slovenian group Laibach took over the small atmospheric theatre named Volksbühne situated in the middle of a busy street in Cologne, Germany. For the audience, the name of this theatre invoked the name of Laibach’s album ‘Volk’, a collection of songs inspired by national anthems. The German word ‘Volk’ means ‘people’. The theatre used to be called Millowitsch-Theater in 1936 but now it’s named Volksbühne am Rudolfplatz. It used to be the central neighbourhood performance venue, but nowadays the neighbours complain about the noise disturbance produced by concerts and theatre plays so the concert had to be advanced by as much as 10 minutes. This was the reason the concert lasted only 70 minutes which is short speaking in Laibach terms. But that couldn’t prevent the fans from having a good time despite the fact it was a seated concert. That one guy who got up of his chair to start a little dance was ordered by the theater-steward to sit down. But hey, of course, it’s a theatre, one should behave! So no ‘Tanz mit Laibach’ this time and not even on the setlist! This concert wasn’t about having fun at all. It felt like a herald of bad times that are about to come our way.
This was in part heralded with their setlist, starting off with SMRT ZA SMRT (Death for death): “by cutting their heads off”, and continuing with TI, KI IZZIVAS (You who challenge): “Go yourself manly to battle and die – if you are really a hero”, NOW YOU WILL PAY: “Barbarians are coming from the east, they will burn down your cities and your Disneylands.”, THE GREAT DIVIDE: “The predators of the great divide are cutting their throats”, EUROVISION: “Europe is falling apart”, WALK WITH ME: “Prisoners of freedom in your own land it’s time to fight back, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: “Existence as you know it is over”, MY FAVOURITE THINGS: “When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favourite things and then I don’t feel so bad”, THE WHISTLEBLOWERS: “living in fame or dying in flame”, NO HISTORY: “Use the language of misunderstanding, disguise it, Occupy Wall Street and judge the intentions of those we don’t trust”, BOSSANOVA: “Greet your victims with a smile”, and ending with LIFE IS LIFE / LEBEN HEISST LEBEN: “and everyone lost everything and perished with the rest”.
The performance by LAIBACH concluded a two day symposium by The Extreme Centre on “The Future of Politics in Times of Populism“hosted by the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne. So, the concert wasn’t part a of an extensive tour as Laibach normally does and that was noticeable in the strong, dark, low voice of Milan Fras and the good rich voice of Mina Spiler.
Only future can tell if we listened well enough to Laibach’s warnings this evening to prevent us falling into these dark ages and if a new Laibach album accompanied by a tour will see the bright light of day.
SMRT ZA SMRT
TI, KI IZZIVAS
NOW YOU WILL PAY
THE GREAT DIVIDE
WALK WITH ME
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
LIFE IS LIFE / LEBEN HEISST LEBEN