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Gig Review: Emilie Autumn, Glasgow Garage, 9th March 2011

One look at the stage sums up an Emilie Autumn show: a bit mad. There’s everything from prison bars to cupcakes; wheelchairs to teddy bears; chains to candles. Welcome to The Asylum.

It may be a bit obvious, but there is no support band. There are not many bands around that would be an appropriate fit, plus, this is much less a concert than it is a theatrical performance.

There are no instruments on stage apart from a well disguised keyboard, so all music is provided by backing tracks. Emilie herself wears a microphone attached to her ear, as do her Bloody Crumpets Contessa, Captain Maggot and Veronica. They supply backing vocals, as well as act as backing dancers, performers, burlesque dancers, comediennes, and fellow asylum inmates.

Emilie herself is at first an intimidating presence. Opening with ‘4’O Clock’ she stalks the stage with a plague doctor-like mask, delivering her vocals akin to some sort of sinister lullaby. But by the time ‘God Help Me’ arrives and we have been thoroughly introduced to Emilie and her Bloody Crumpets, things become a bit more light hearted performance wise, though undoubtedly a lot more mad.

‘God Help Me’ shows Emilie taking to a piano, while the rest of her entourage takes to the front of the stage with biscuits, cookies, cakes and tea which end up showering the front few rows. Captain Maggot even does a little bit of crowd surfing.

A lot of this is fairly standard for an EA show, but no less impressive. Yes, it’s rehearsed down to the tiniest bit of banter (apart from when Veronica says the word “amen” and Emilie breaks character to say “I don’t think we’ve ever said that word before…”), but all theatre shows are. It’s very much an industrial rock show combined with carnival, burlesque, asylum and Mad Hatter tea party elements.

Most of Emilie’s shows since 2006 have been based on that year’s ‘Opheliac’ album so this is the first tour to offer us much in the way of new material. While she completely left the sound of ‘Enchant’ behind when creating ‘Opheliac’, it’s clear that ‘Fight Like a Girl’ will follow the personal and introspective lyrics of its predecessor.

Emilie Autumn - Glasgow‘Take The Pill’ is a psychotic, dominating and submissive list of demands taking place within the asylum, while ‘We Want Them Young’ is a vampyric plea for help. ‘Fight Like a Girl’ is a bit more assertive, with Emilie assuring us she’ll have her revenge, while ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ is perhaps the standout of the night due to its playful, vamp-like nature. It provides a bit of relief among the institutionalised themes, coming across more like a carnival sideshow than an insane asylum.

‘One Foot’ rounds off the main set, which is slightly dampened due to the song’s repetitive nature. Undoubtedly a good track, but we hear that chorus a few too many times. The encore provides a little playful routine before ending on ‘Thank God I’m Pretty’ with Emilie visibly moved by the volume of the crowd’s participation. As if to end the night with a little playful wink, the outro music to the show is Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’

It’s a captivating show, and Emilie’s fanbase (The Plague Rats) are a devoted bunch, showing up in corsets and victorian garbs. But there are others who are dressed in every day wear. And some dressed like goths. She notices this too, that no two people look alike, which makes us “very hard to market to…but you’re all here, so hey!” If you’re not already on board, it’s time to join The Asylum. They have cookies.

Rating – 9

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About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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