Thursday, 28 February 2013
One of the main purported disadvantages of having a drum machine rather than a live drummer was a perceived lack of spontaneity, but at Sisters gigs in the early 80s, the opposite was true. Whilst Ben Gunn disappeared off to the back of the stage to re-programme the Doktor, Eldritch would be left front and centre stage, in the direct firing line of a motley crew of hecklers and jokers shouting out comments about his appearance (boy, would they have a field day nowadays), requests for songs, random words etc. Fortified like a stand-up comedian by the reassuring fact that most of the audience can only hear one side of the conversation, Von was happy to fill the inevitable gaps with a bit of banter with the audience, revealing himself as a master of the witty one liner, his rapier retorts as impressive as his fencing apparently was. This audience interaction was all part of the appeal in the early days, and in the late 80s one of the music weeklies even printed a chart of his best quotes, taken from bootleg recordings of live gigs. Sadly, as the venues became more cavernous and technological "advances" made the Doktor more and more like a real drummer, botht he lengthy pauses and Eldritch's fondness for banter seemed to decline. Indeed, these days the level of chat is reduced to the stage where it's hard to tell one gig's bootleg from another, with the great man on some nights having difficulty in exceeding Carl McCoy's average gig word-count of three ("Thanks, good night !")' despite the return to more modest venues. Last year's radio, press and TV interviews showed that his sense of humour and linguistic dexterity remain as sharp as ever, so let's hope that the next time the band are touring some poor idiot who's drunkenly shouting out for "home of the hitmen" at every opportunity will get the verbal roasting of his life. Bring back the banter !