Monday, 20 July 2015

Third Belgian Trip 1985 pt 2

In the early days of Britain's membership of the EU (or EEC as it was called in those days), there was much talk of over-production and resultant metaphorical "wine lakes", "butter mountains" and the like. There was never any mention however of a "brick pile", probably because they had all been used to construct the erm, unique entrance to the Limburghal in Genk back in 1971, the second and final stop on TSOM's mini Belgian tour of 1985.

Unlike the magnificent medieval splendour of the previous night's stop in Gent (a mere 54 kilometres away, according to this extract from the official tour schedule courtesy of Phil Verne), Genk could not have been more of a contrast, a "town" which (like Stoke on Trent, for example) was more of a collection of villages which grew up suddenly with (in this case) the discovery of coal, in the latter stages of the Industrial Revolution. Although the coal-mines had gone by the early 80s, Genk still had one of the largest Ford Motor Company factories in Europe (as it did until last year in fact), but the local council clearly felt that the locals needed cheering up, and so arranged a "Spring Festival" in the context of "De Jaar van de Jeugd", as can be seen on the poster below, kindly shared by legendary collector Bruno Bossier on the Sisters wiki website. I'm not sure that the United Nations had goth gigs in mind when they'd designated 1985 as The International Year of Youth, but the promoters of the Genk festival must have been delighted that TSOM's Armageddon itinerary brought them to the right place at the right time, to headline a bill that can only be described as eclectic, all introduced by an enthusiastic female compere.
First up were Walloon dark-wavers Poésie Noire, promoting their first EP Gioconda Smile, just starting out on their career but probably the only band on the bill with any connection at all to TSOM, as they later became one of the first bands (of many) to cover Marian, on their 1989 Oblivion EP (along with songs by The Cure and The The). They were followed by another new wave act, local heroes Nervous Night Gang, who managed just one 12" EP in their brief career, before the Festival got a little stranger. As their name would suggest, Seven Roots were a reggae band (well TSOM had shared a bill with Aswad earlier in their career), led by one Prince Bert and promoting their latest single, "Let's Do It". I suspect that they were about as popular with the crowd as Prefab Sprout had been in Lier the previous year, but sadly I have been unable to track down a contemporary review. It would also be interesting to know how the audience reacted to Factory Benelux artists Cosa Nostra and to Jo Lemaire, a chanteuse whose career would span a further thirty years but who at the time was going through a trendy phase, with a change of direction and a self-titled album produced by TC Matic's guitarist.
Backstage photos which have surfaced from the Limburghal gig (and kindly shared on Facebook by Maria M) show Wayne and Craig relaxing happily with fans at what was only the second gig without Gary, and the three-piece blasted through a very similar set to the night before, with Burn and ARAAHP omitted but with a nine and a half-minute Ghost Rider/Sister Ray reinstated as a second encore. 
Eldritch seemed more relaxed too, both pre-gig during interviews with local newspapers and fanzines, and during the gig itself where he jokingly dedicated "Amphetamine Logic" to "The Belgian Police, who didn't manage to arrest us this time."
The Sisters may have made Belgium their second home latterly, but little did the large Genk crowd realise that they were witnessing the last TSOM gig there for over five years ..
(My heartfelt thanks are due to Maria, Bruno, Julio and especially Phil for their explicit or 
unwitting help in compiling this post. Apologies also for the formatting issues with this post - NVL)

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