Vancouver has been graced with a number of rare and magical performances this year thanks to the Covenant team, but the first-ever Canadian appearance of neofolk legend Death in June is the (presumably black) feather in their collective cap.
Although in the weeks leading up to the show there were faint tremors of conflict online linked to popular misconceptions about the band’s appropriation of military iconography (employed in a fashion similar to Laibach‘s brand of art-provocation), there was nary a hint of protest outside the Rickshaw Theatre last Thursday – before showtime Death in June collaborator Miro Snejdr of Herr Lounge Corps was even spotted leisurely photographing the building’s marquee from the sidewalk.
Apart from applause between songs, Snejdr’s opening performance of contemporary classical piano pieces was met with appreciative and respectful silence (itself noteworthy, given the chatty tendencies of the average concert audience), as coils of incense smoke rolled across the stage. Death in June founder and frontman Douglas Pearce was greeted with fervent applause, given the unprecedented event of the band’s first Canadian performance in its 34-year history. Accompanied by Snejdr for several opening and closing songs, Pearce captivated the audience with a comprehensive set that often elicted sheer joy, such as was evident from the applause upon the opening chords of “Black Angel”. Citing their rigorous North American tour schedule and the strain of jet lag, Death in June actually preceded local support act, Night Profound, for which a modest but ardent following remained behind.
Although clearly owing a debt to Death in June’s sound, Night Profound nevertheless demonstrate a singular musical vision, self-described as “cthonic folk”. Perhaps owing to the fact that the quintet was closing a show for one of their primary musical influences, this reviewer has rarely witnessed such focus and intensity from a live band (in fact, the only other occasion was a Neurosis concert during the Through Silver in Blood tour); however one hopes that this performance is generally indicative of the band’s overall strength and that Vancouver will see more frequent Night Profound concerts in the new year.