Sitting down to a write-up of the 69 Eyes, as a first-time contribution to this venerable webzine, is surely an act of auto-disqualification. These beautiful boys, mere flirts with darkness and doom? What have they to do with ravishing grimness? What is there here but a surface sheen of blood, leather, sex and fangs? Where, besides Islington, does the writer get off? Well, sometimes such surfaces are all the discerning morbid soul needs. A mood, not a philosophy. Gothic charm over a grotesque goblin. A drink, not a baptism.
And if you don’t care for such things, you would’ve still been wise to come down for Lacrimas Profundere anyway. Putting aside the impressive energy these twenty-year veterans still manage to pour into this tiny venue to win over a crowd who are very much not here for them, and the fearsome charisma of frontman Julian Larre, Lacrimas are fascinating band all on their own. Possessed of a style that mixes slow, sorrowful pseudo-doom metal (‘Like Screams in Empty Halls’) with a rock-n-roll ferocity (‘Celestite Woman’), they barely fit with the headliners and sometimes feel as though they barely keep their own music from flying apart from the pull of a dozen inspirations. Yet somehow, it all works, and for many here tonight puts Lacrimas Profundere back on top of their ‘to-listen’ stack.
But it’s the Helsinki vampires we’re all really here for, and the Garage is not remotely the right venue for this to go down in. 30 years of the 69 Eyes, and this alarmingly tiny venue is the best the UK can provide in celebration? Yet, as soon as ‘Two Horns Up’ is over - complete with a fairly spot-on Dani Filth impersonation from singer Jyrki 69 – these black and compact walls may as well have melted away. Those 30 years have been spent not so much on the pursuit of arenas as they have on honing songcraft and performance to a level of gorgeous quality, evident not only in the classics (‘Brandon Lee’, ‘Crashing High’ and ‘Never Say Die’) but in the brilliant new material from their new album, the career-best effort ‘West End’. Every throat in the venue opens to sing ‘27 & Done’ and especially ‘Cheyanna’; every butt shakes for ‘Betty Blue’ and ‘Perfect Skin’ and it’s every bit as embarrassingly wonderful as any occasion when a goth starts dancing. By the time the perennial closer ‘Lost Boys’ kicks into gear, there is a dark joy palpable onstage and in the crowd alike, and this writer has been forever disqualified from their kvlt credentials. Two horns up, indeed.
‘West End’ is out now on Nuclear Blast