Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US)

CRADLE OF FILTH / WEDNESDAY 13 / RAVEN BLACK

Date: 25th March, 2019
Venue: House Of Blues Chicago
Ticket: $32 / €28.50
Promoter: n/a


Having a concert on a Monday is always tricky business but there is also a good side on this coin and that is the evening commute. Yes, the traffic is manageable (especially compared to Fridays) and therefore, it is easier to navigate a working day’s schedule without stressing yourself out about whether you’ll get there on time. With all these considered, it was no wonder that we got to HoB on schedule and, in fact, there was even time to find a good spot before RAVEN BLACK’s set.

Last time RAVEN BLACK was on the menu for me was when they were opening for DEVILDRIVER a while ago, but my schedule did not give me the chance to catch them on stage, so this would be my first. I rarely check the supporting bands before getting to show since I want my judgement to be pure from whatever an online search can bias my opinion before even forming one… Especially for this band I am glad I did not do my homework beforehand, because RAVEN BLACK is the definition of the “don’t just a book by its cover” rule. Seeing the gentlemen hitting the stage with The Crow-like makeup was definitely not the strange thing but it was Ms. Raven Black who made me think “what is going on here?” It’s not that I have never in my life seeing bizarre make-up and looks on stage (remember; Wednesday 13 and Dani were up next), but seeing her moving like a puppet, with some creepy makeup on (colored eye contact lenses was the icing on this bizarre cake) and holding a bright red umbrella was a smack on the face, especially when “Spider” kicked off the set. The Carnival almost “Itsy Bitsy Spider” tempo made room for some growling vocals with some headbanging-worthy groove and judging by how the people reacted at the front rows, I was the only one having zero knowledge of the band. The heavier riff of the still-sounding bizarre “13” made me appreciate how the music complementing the aesthetics and maybe using the term acquired taste is most appropriate when describing RAVEN BLACK and this is not said in a negative way. I mean, you have to appreciate how hard a band works to support the aesthetics, especially on a live setting where grasping the audience’s attention is the number one priority. On top of this, I found what RAVEN BLACK were doing was a great match to the other two bands that are well-known of their theatrical aspect on and off stage. The mosh-pit during this one underlined that this band had already achieved one of the most important duties of an opening act; get the crowd going. Indeed, Raven Black’s question before “Damaged” “are you having fun yet?” was definitely a rhetorical one, because the HoB arena did not look like it was a Monday show. “Dollhouse” came out great and it was awesome to hear how the singer was changing singing styles like she did with all those onstage props and the facial expressions looking creepy and fun and everything in between... Speaking of changes, I even managed to taste some Steampunk in “Breaking The Box” and in all honesty I did like it. The guitar intro of “Seven Sins” kind of reminded me of HOLOCAUST’s “The Small Hours” (or maybe METALLICA’s cover) before drawing my attention once again to the multi-character vocals and the Horror Movie (Splatter would have been a better fit) atmosphere.

The bottom line is that RAVEN BLACK gave a solid performance that primed the way for WEDNESDAY 13 getting everyone out of Monday blues and into a Friday night mood with their half an hour set. Did they convert me into a fan? Well, musically that’s a hard call to make, but I would definitely see them again if that opportunity arises.

RAVEN BLACK setlist:

01. “Spider”
02. “13”
03. “Sticks And Stones”
04. “Damaged”
05. “Dollhouse”
06. “Breaking The Box”
07. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars”
08. “Sevens Sins”
09. “Voices”

RAVEN BLACK

Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Raven Black @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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During the stage preparations for WEDNESDAY 13, more people entered the venue so along with the mood, the attendance also looked like it was a Friday night, something I was not expecting. I mean, CRADLE OF FILTH returned to the US during the same album cycle, so I was a bit skeptical whether they would manage to get the Chicagoans off their couch. Anyways, I am glad they did and I feel sorry for those who decided otherwise because this billing went down awesomely well.

Ten minutes before 9pm, the taped intro marked the time to welcome Mr. Wednesday 13 and his band. His Lizzy Borden-like performing style fits perfectly the groovy Goth Metal and it was overwhelming to try to absorb everything the moment “Hail Ming” kicked in. It was impossible to follow the constantly moving frontman who, dressed like a grim reaper, quickly assumed his position at the center of the stage, standing on a riser. Yes, his outfit along with the light show and the music on top were activating many parts of the brain, so one needed more time to take it all in. What I am trying to say here is that the show started with a huge bang and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. The taped intro (with the characteristic public warning buzzing sound) gave Wednesday 13 enough time to change his outfit which soon we discovered fitted the song’s ‘70s Horror movie aesthetics like a tailored suit. The glow-in-the-dark body-paint looked awesome and the band’s frontman was busting the appropriate moves to show it off.

“Chicago, raise your horns in the air”, was the simple directive we got from the Duke of Spook who was wearing a devil’s mask as it was time for “Serpent Society”. It was awesome to see many horns in the air as it felt like the audience was part of the show. This is another indication of how strong WEDNESDAY 13 hit the stage and quickly managed to get the majority of the HoB crowd involved. In case you don’t know, being in a Metal concert means exactly this; becoming part of the show and not just stand there like a simple observer with your sleepy eyes fixated on your “smart(er) than you” phone. That’s right’ the cameras-in-the-air plague is getting stronger and if you consider how big the smartphones have become nowadays, the annoyance levels have hit an all-time maximum. The light-show was not the typical one for a supporting band and I am glad it was like this because everything added something more to this collage of sound and visuals elements that are crucial of what WEDNESDAY 13 are all about. Yes, the Horror Movie aesthetics (from the ‘70s /’ 80s and not from the crappy ones of these times) are mixed with the groovy Goth/Metal or whatever you like to call it.

“Chicago, are you still out there? You may know some of these guys who were with me in MURDERDOLLS, said the singer and I think mentioning that band name raised some additional cheers, something that proves there were some WEDNESDAY 13 vampires among the crowd. “Zodiac” was next on the menu, coming off the band’s upcoming LP, and from that one-time listening, I can say it was a mid-tempo song with a nice guitar groove and a pounding rhythm. I guess, you may say that there is some WHITE ZOMBIE flair in there, to give a more efficient description.

After this treat, the band went off stage for a little while because the taped intro revealed there was some more to come. The killer “What The Night Brings” brought WEDNESDAY 13 back with an awesome sounding Horror Movie melody and with an impossible to refuse invitation to headbang. Watching the multi-talented singer walking on stage with a lighted walking stick had an Alice Cooper vibe to it, but that should not be a surprise as he was one of the first bringing such theatrics on a Metal show. “Chicago, you are the reason we do this; make some noise for yourselves” were the proper talking words from Wednesday 13 who also promised that the band will return before letting “Keep Watching The Skies” drop the curtain on a groovy way. This was my first WEDNESDAY 13 show and you can color me impressed since I had lots of fun from start to finish to a point that I would like to see more.

WEDNESDAY 13 setlist:

01. “Hail Ming”
02. “Come Out And Plague”
03. “Astro Psycho”
04. “Serpent Society”
05. “Prey For Me”
06. “Get Your Grave On”
07. “Zodiac”
08. “What The Night Brings”
09. “Keep Watching The Skies”

WEDNESDAY 13

Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Wednesday 13 @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The previous two sets were the perfect guide to the headliners, since the Gothic elements on the music of CRADLE OF FILTH was there from day one, and if you don’t believe me, then you should spend more time listening to their first discographic steps. Anyways, it isn’t my role to teach you the CRADLE OF FILTH history, but I cannot help but pointing the obvious. However, Gothic was written all over the stage with the black lanterns placed on the back and the purple roses on Lindsay’s keyboards’ setup, and all nicely tied together by the band’s outfits on top of everything of course. The mood was at the right level when the “Ave Satani” intro marked the time for the Brit band to hit the HoB stage. Dani showed up wearing a hood and stood at the back of the stage and he really did not need to do much to trigger the audience’s excitement. The latter exploded along with the massive double bass of “Gilded Cunt” which has a constant for kicking off the CRADLE OF FILTH sets. Mosh-pit was immediately on the menu as a powerful indication of how the night would evolve. Everything looked and most importantly sounded great because I have been in more than a couple of CRADLE OF FILTH shows where the sound was not clear enough to dig deep firsthand on their sound’s eclectic layers. This seemed to have become a thing of the past and in this instance I would say this was the best sound I’ve got on a COF show, even though I wouldn’t say “no” to a bit higher volume. Dani has changed his vocals quite a bit and I believe he is using less distortion and effects bringing more to the table as far as expression goes. Yes, there is more clarity in his vocals and how they fit the music and the atmosphere that goes along with it. Lindsay set the “hey, hey” tone and then started the almost operatic intro for “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych” which is the perfect representation of where the band musically stands nowadays, having already two powerful LPs with the new lineup.

“Greetings, Chicago, tonight feels like an extended weekend”, said Dani acknowledging the excitement coming from the crowd, before dedicating the next one to the people in the front rows. The aforementioned “new lineup” should not be considered that new anymore as it counts the fourth year, and watching the band performing onstage, you can easily sense how solid this lineup has become and how everyone has found a unique role in CRADLE OF FILTH. This also works visually with the band maintaining a symmetry onstage without looking pre-rehearsed. The slower “Heartbreak And Séance” gave me the chance to watch the guitar duo with Ashok and Rich Shaw being quite different characters onstage. The former is a more straightforward Metal guitarist and he connects with the audience in a direct way, smiling and taunting everyone to join the show, while the latter is closer to the CRADLE OF FILTH Gothic aesthetics, with all these facial expressions and puppet-like moves that have a creepy backbone. By the way, how does he keep playing while headbanging and doing circles around himself is beyond me.

Dani announced that the band will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Cruelty And The Beast” (oh my goodness, it feels like yesterday when I was listening to the album for the first time when it was released and getting goosebumps) with a remastered (from the original tapes) and remixed re-release before introducing the next one; “This is about a very wicked lady; she was a Satanist and used to bathe in the blood of virgins”. That’s right; the epos of “Bathory Aria” came next and nailed us to the floor with the overwhelming riffs, Dani’s multi-character screaming / screeching, and on top of everything the genuine Gothic atmosphere that has nothing to do with the “Twilight” crap... (you know what I am talking about, right?) The old mixed with the new led us to the setlist intermission and I think this was when the crowdsurfing started with people going from the back all the way to the front to greet Dani and the gang. Can you imagine a better soundtrack for this than “Dusk And Her Embrace”? The fast drumming and groovy rhythm are more than enough to get Metal running inside your veins. By the way, I don’t like at all the Plexiglas-stand around the drum-kit as it looks like the drummer’s being thrown into a jail of some sorts. Anyway, I am sure the band has a perfect reasoning doing so, but visually it does not look ok. The amazing “You Will Know The Lion By His Claw” was the last one before the “Bruise Upon The Silent Moon” taped interlude that would soon open the second part of the setlist. The light effects of thunder and lightning put once more the true Gothic aesthetics on the spotlight and before long it gave its spot to the explosive due of the riff and snare-drum driven “The Promise Of Fever” and the dancing-along “Saffron’s Curse” from the amazing “Midian” album that for many was when CRADLE OF FILTH became mainstream... As expected, the shortest version of “Nymphetamine” got a loud response with lots of people singing-along to the catchy chorus and perfect for chanting riff, while Dani approached Lindsay for the duet part while teasing her and offering her roses from her keyboards’ setting.

“We have two more songs to play for you this evening”, announced Dani and I think I was not the only one feeling that 100 minutes of CRADLE OF FILTH was not enough... Of course, time flies when you are having fun and that’s exactly what we had with the last two of the set; “Honey And Sulphur” and especially the massive hit “Her Ghost In The Fog” figuratively dropped the curtain for most probably one of the best CRADLE OF FILTH shows I have ever been here in the States. I hope the next time will not take long and it will be with another awesome album with lots of things to discover. Dani’s closing statement says it all: “Thank you, Chicago - We are CRADLE OF fucking FILTH.

CRADLE OF FILTH setlist:

01. “Ave Satani” (taped intro)
02. “Gilded Cunt”
03. “Nemesis”
04. “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych”
05. “Heartbreak And Séance”
06. “Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder Of Ravens In Fugue / Eyes That Witnessed”
07. “Wester Vespertine”
08. “Dusk And Her Embrace”
09. “You Will Know The Lion By His Claw”
10. “Bruise Upon The Silent Moon” (taped intro)
11. “The Promise Of Fever”
12. “Saffron’s Curse”
13. “Nymphetamine (Fix)”
14. “Honey And Sulphur”
15. “Her Ghost In The Fog”
16. “Blooding The Hounds Of Hell” (taped outro)

CRADLE OF FILTH

Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Cradle Of Filth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)