Sex Gang Children – Live At Ocean – Review

dvd-sexgangchildren200Sex Gang Children

Live At Ocean (MVD)
by Ewan Wadharmi

Legend has it that The Cult’s Ian Astbury coined the phrase “Goth” in reference to fans of Sex Gang Children. (Too bad The Cult didn’t bring them on tour instead of the silly Killers imitators, Action Action.) The gang were contemporaries of Joy Division, Sigue Sique Sputnik, and Sisters of Mercy. This incarnation contains Kevin Matthew on drums, Matthew Saw and Adrian Portas doing some fine work on guitar, Carl Magnusson on bass, and Martin Olofsson adding mysticism by violin. Longtime guitarist and collaborator Terry MacLeavy is absent.

This 2002 London performance would’ve been great to witness: A generous 21 songs over an hour and a half, dramatic lighting, and impassioned delivery by the artists. Leader Andi Sexgang is fascinating to watch, creeping around the stage like some creature from the netherworld. But being there is a far cry from watching this grainy footage “Shot from the audience’s point of view,” as the disc portrays. That means bootleg. Whether commissioned by the band, or sanctioned after the fact, this is a bootleg with substandard sound and shaky footage. If you can get past that, it’s pretty enjoyable. Ranging from cold Euro-dance numbers to quasi-cabaret theatre and bass-driven tales of darkness, the pieces constantly reveal their influences and point to their followers.

The rare show was by no means a reunion of nostalgia, they focused on material from the (at the time) new album, Bastard Art. The first six songs, in fact, appear in order on that record with several others – “Circus Days” and “Romeo Gazing” – interspersed throughout. But the Sex Gang goes back to the beginning with “Times of Our Lives” and “Shout and Scream” from their live first release, Naked. A fair representation from Blind, Song and Legend and Medea fill out the remainder of the respectable show. A thrilling rendition of “Arms of Cicero” tops the performance. The bonus features consist of scant minutes backstage footage and photos. Probably not a suitable introduction to the band, but diehards will find it valuable.