[sic] Magazine

Dead Guitars – Invasion Festival, Aachen, Germany


We feel like infiltrators, crossing the frontier from Belgium to Germany and immediately halting in the border city of Aachen. On the anniversary of D Day, this is of course the Invasion Festival. The venue, MusikBunker, is an enigma. Seemingly lost in a highly residential area of the city, out of place and out of time, a gaping maw at the end of a sleepy cul-de-sac. A few short steps up and then a long descent into the depths.


MusikBunker looks huge from the outside. Seems huge, I should say, as you can’t really see it all. Can’t really comprehend it. I love weird, small venues. Somehow the gigs are more mine. Yet MusikBunker’s entrance is a little disconcerting. I expect to find a kiosk or a person at the top of those first steps. Nothing. At the foot of the descending steps, again, nothing. A long forbidding corridor awaits us. I must say the Graffiti is more ‘Blair Witch’ than art. Concrete catacombs. Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves springs to mind.

This is the way, step inside.

‘I might never leave this place’ I considered.

At least it was well lit.

So we traverse half of Aachens sub terrain before finally encountering Aachens sub terrans. The Aachen underground. The Nightbreed. Of course they’re all lovely people. Now that we comprehend why the Musicbunker looks so much bigger on the outside we need a beer.. The nice lady at the bar stresses the importance of returning the glasses and I give my faithful promise as an English gentleman.

I think I left them backstage somewhere. Sorry, ‘nice lady at the bar’.

Here Kitty

Kitty In A Casket are a lot of fun. Goth Punk pychobilly from Vienna. Younglings. They have a cool image. Stray Cats (the boys) meets Lydia Lunch. Or something. I enjoyed it. They even played Boys Don’t Cry. There are plenty of Invasion Festival pics over at their myspace but I haven’t asked permission so I won’t reproduce any here.

Katzenjammer Kabarett are also splendid entertainment and also have a sharp as hell image. Edwardian Smashing Pumpkins look. Their latest LP is called Grand Guignol & Variétes which gives you an idea of what to expect. Stylish, French proto-horror cabaret. Baroque, tongue in cheek and surprisingly melodic. I should like to have seen more of Mr. Guillotine, Mary Komplikated and Co.


And Dead Guitars…

Five black-clad men wade through the crowd to take the stage. Cigarettes hang moodily from the mouths of most of them. They hardly speak. Guitarist Peter Brough is the ringleader, cuing the band with a nod and a flick of the head into The Name Of The Sea, the slow-burning, brooding opener from the first album, Airplanes. A magical song. A satisfying song.

Red Light Melancholy

The last time I saw Dead Guitars they had been playing to thousands of amazed Mission fans as part of their European Tour. Big venues. Big lighting rigs, you know the score. I remember at the time I had urged them to hold back The Name Of The Sea until later in their set. I think Peter just frowned at me. Brilliant opener that it is, I wanted people to enjoy it from start to finish. In practice what was happening was that it drew in plenty of latecomers and drinkers from the bar area. A good thing, admittedly but I wanted people to experience what I was experiencing. The way it builds. The way it flowers.

Maybe I was right then but I’m wrong now. Things have moved on. Now, after a second album, The Name Of The Sea is no longer THE standout but rather one of seven or eight standout tracks. There is simply no need to hold it back. No Wayne Hussey this evening so no Isolation but we do get Pristine, Silver Cross River and Blue from the latest record, Flags.

The Crouch

DG’s really are a good band. A great band if you care to pay attention. Now a full five piece, I get to fully appreciate bassist Sven-Olaf and drummer Patrick.
Carlo van Putten is a cool customer though. Laid back before the show (and during) he allows us a few admiring looks at his band. It’s hard to take your eye of Ralf Hussem’s guitarwork at times but Carlo will always bring you back to him. He is as adept physically as he his vocally with his performance. Too much guitar worship and he’ll reel you back with a gesture. His favourite trick is a gravity defying lean out across the audience, reaching for us with his free hand while the other grips his mic. I’m reminded of Lord Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back. “No Luke, I AM your Father”, or some such. Lord Van Putten wields ‘the force’ on stage.

Lord van Putten

‘You can like my guitarists, yes
…but not TOO much’

Before the show, van Putten theorises to me about other vocalists. He draws parallels between the delivery styles of Richard Ashcroft and Neil Diamond of all people. My eyes must have betrayed me. I’m obviously not totally convinced. So he proves it. No word of a lie, van Putten imitates the legendary gentlemen to within an inch. It’s impressive.

Dear Guitars are just that. Impressive. See them at any opportunity. They will remind you of the power of music. Most of today’s acts, when you think of it, are some kind of re-hash or re-tread of old ideas. However good the music, it isn’t saying anything. It’s Muzak. It’s background. Wheras DG’s are survivors, craftsmen. Their music has a message and a power to move us beyond mere literal, lyrical interpretation. Their shows are enriching in ways you thought you might never experience again.
They make ‘special’ seem effortless.

So out of the night we come and into the night we go.
But we will return.


NB The truly wonderful ‘Floorshow’ photo is by Leonie Meeusen. The grainy, pathetic phone photos are mine.


Dead Guitars Myspace

DGs Website

Flags Review

Katzenjammer Kabarett

Kitty in a Casket

Perplaix Promotion