Live Gig Report by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Less than a week after My Global Mind saw Cradle of Filth live in New York, we’re here at The Academy in Dublin to catch their first Irish show in well over a decade, and judging by the bustling crowd, their return has been much anticipated. This and a Belfast date follow a six week tour of North America with Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies, wrapping up the current run of tour dates.
Here in Ireland, support comes from Mancunian black metallers Winterfylleth, who missed out on their last scheduled visit to Dublin with Behemoth in December 2014 when the inclement weather forced their ferry to be cancelled. Tonight, the Academy is already nearing capacity in time for the opening act, most likely due to it being an early-curfew Sunday service. Red light bathes the stage as the quartet take their positions. Clean-cut and neatly dressed, the quartet don’t look like stereotypical black metallers, but once frontman Chris Naughton opens his mouth, the guttural growls leave no doubts. While the audience engage in some mild head-banging, the unfamiliar setlist never manages to fully engage them, despite a technically impressive show, both aurally and visually. Tracks includes ‘Forsaken in Stone’ from their most recent album The Divination Of Antiquity and ‘A Valley Thick with Oaks’ from The Mercian Sphere, which sees bassist Nick Wallwork break a string during the intro, resulting in a slightly awkward few minutes as it is repaired. The set closes with ‘Whisper of the Elements’, also from their latest release, and a lacklustre applause from the audience.
As two life-size crucified skeletons are revealed flanking the stage, it is clear that the Academy attendees are far more excited about the imminent arrival of Dani Filth and his current Cradle comrades than the under-appreciated openers. With a lineup that has changed regularly in his 25 years at the helm, Filth (real name Daniel Lloyd Davey) has been the been the constant iconic centrepiece of the dark and controversial metal band. Renowned for his gothic makeup and remarkable vocal range, he immediately hits the high notes in the opening track ‘Heaven Torn Asunder’ taken along with its recorded intro from their 1996 sophomore album Dusk and Her Embrace.
In a surprisingly humorous tribute to recently deceased Irish actor Frank Kelly, best known for his portrayal of lecherous Father Jack Hackett, Filth announces that they are “here to kick Bishop Brennan right up the arse”, and dedicates ‘Blackest Magick in Practice’ to his memory. The Irish crowd don’t have much frame of reference for comparison, but the band sound better live than any could have hoped for, with Filth’s screamed lyrics topping off the layers of guitars, keys and drumming, leaving nothing wanting. The band regularly engage with the fans, making eye contact and encouraging crowd participation. One of the regular quips between tracks, “Drink, Feck, Arse, Girls” is Filth’s self-proclaimed motto for life entirely, as he introduces ‘Gilded Cunt’, continuing the nod to Kelly.
Rather than the usual format of “main-set, faux-finale, three-song-encore”, Cradle of Filth split the show in two, taking an eerily silent break mid-set before returning for another half-dozen fan favourites including their most recognizable Grammy-nominated track ‘Nymphetamine’ from the 2004 album by the same name. Dedicating the track to all the “lovely girls” out there, Filth assures us that “the money was just resting in his account”. Who would have thought that Dani Filth was such a fan of Father Ted?
The setlist touches the majority of their eleven album back-catalogue and culminates with the duo of ‘From the Cradle to Enslave’ and ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ as Filth takes sadistic pleasure in dousing the front row fans with water. A slew of crowd-surfers make the most of the finale giving the Academy staff a run for their money. A triumphant return to Dublin for the symphonic stalwarts from Suffolk. Here’s hoping they don’t wait another fifteen years to visit again.