OCTOBER 24, 2002

Razed in Black's singer

sigue sigue sputnik take off

by Bret Miller
As kids of all ages got ready to play dress-up and get their candy, Cleopatra Records presented their 10 year anniversary at the Key Club in West Hollywood. The big draw was seeing Sigue Sigue Sputnik play in L.A. for the first time in 15 years. Scantily clad girls mingled with overly made-up boys, goths and freaks of all persuasions joined to basically stand stock still to four fun bands from the label best known for their goth and industrial compilations and reissues of punk, new wave and glam classics from the 70's and 80's.

Zeromancer is an exciting new signing to Cleopatra, they don't so obviously ape their influences, and show a knack for writing actual songs with melodies, songwriting and interesting lyrics. Yes, they are mainly an "industrial rock" band but they play their instruments and focus on guitars and vocals rather than keyboards and dance beats (although they have lots of both). Live they knocked our socks (and for some, fishnets) off with their energy and good looks. Singer Alex Moklebust has a washboard torso and charisma to spare as he led the band through songs from Eurotrash, focusing on buzzsaw guitars and Noralf Ronthi's propulsive drumming. Bassist/co-vocalist and songwriter Kim Ljung jumped around the stage, adding his throaty backing vocals to many of the songs and Chris Schleyer flashed his bright red guitar skills and even brighter red mohawk. Keyboardist Erik Ljunggren was the only one who didn't seem like he was having fun as he triggered the backing rhythms and samples for the hard-edged songs. The best received songs of the night were the title track, Doctor Online and my favorite, Plasmatic. The songs and lyrics are memorable and the rhythms catchy. There were many at the foot of the stage raising their fists in the air as they sang the lyrics with Alex.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik put on a fun show, with colorful outfits and big, colorful hair. Guitarist Neal X wore a silver suit and sported a white pompadour wig, Tony James sported a hot pink do and singer Martin Degville combed his long blond hair to create a wave over his forehead. Degville wore a bright yellow zoot suit with a furry boa and had what looked like tire marks drawn onto the side of his face. Sigue Sigue's trademark was the tweaked vocals and twangy guitar riffs that somehow sounded both futuristic and classic in the 80's (not to mention kinda cheesy), yet in another millenium mainly sounded quaint. Still, the band was flashy and flamboyant to pull off the nostalgia and still make it at least enjoyable, blowing some dust off classics like Love Machine F111 ("Shoot it up!"), Jayne Mansfield Superstar and She's My Man. James and X played to programmed backing tracks and keyboards played by their lovely lady aid who also turned the knobs to make Degville voice rise and decay into a high-pitched squeal or lower and echo on.

Also at the show was Razed In Black who grafted vocals and crunchy guitars over Balaeric techno. Their cover of New Order's Everything's Gone Green was fun if not somewhat predictable. Switchblade Symphony performed a short set minus their bassist/co-vocalist. Without those low-end melodies the vocalist sounded somewhat lost but the scathing guitarist was enough to cover up the lack of the bottom end.

All in all, a fun, nostalgic, forward looking and freakish night with Zeromancer sounding like they have legs, Sigue Sigue still hammering away at their tried and true style and enough black clothes and mascara to make me stay away from those vampire clubs forever. Cleopatra's 10th Anniversary party didn't suck.