with Apoptygma Berzerk
The Saint Nightclub, Ft. Lauderdale, FL • September 7, 2000
Jorge C. Galban
Being a devoted EBM (Electronic Body Music) fan for several years, I was thrilled to witness the opening performance of the VNV Nation/Apoptygma Berzerk US Tour at the Saint Nightclub in Ft. Lauderdale. Upon entering the venue, I soon realized that all of my expectations had been exceeded. The crowd was highly energetic and in good spirits for the electro assault that was to unfold on stage. A German DJ delivered a musical prelude consisting of the best electro, EBM, industrial, and trance music available. Once the audience had been engulfed by these captivating sounds, VNV Nation took command and delivered a high-energy performance unlike any I had ever seen. It was not long before total electro mayhem took over the already enthusiastic audience.
The opening track, “Kingdom,” pulsated through the crowd as a mass of rivetheads emerged, waving their hands through the air in sheer enjoyment. A large video screen behind the band delivered visually stunning digital images and computer graphics ideally suited for the bands live set. Ronan Harris’ passionate voice and endless bursts of enthusiasm emanated through the venue alongside relentless EBM soundscapes that could be felt down to the bones. “Rubicon” blasted through the speakers with Ronan shouting, “I have come so far and cannot return,” a statement that proves true for VNV Nation’s pioneering work. Other gems that brought the masses to their feet included “Standing,” “Legion,” and “Darkangel,” to name a few.
Laser lights and various digital effects were programmed into the show, giving each track its own unique personality. There were a few electrical problems during the band’s set, whereby the entire sound system would go out for several minutes. However, these minor technical difficulties did not sway the band or the audience in any way. During the last song, the power went out again and Ronan completed the last song in an a cappella version. During each brief power outage, Ronan would speak to the audience and keep everyone entertained while their systems were reset.
Having seen many other electronic bands in action, I can easily say that VNV Nation are true masters of their craft and do not disappoint at any level. I did not stay for the Apoptygma Berzerk show since the various electrical problems had delayed their performance significantly. However, if their live set was anything like that at the Swedish Alternative Music Awards in Gothenburg Sweden on April 1st, the show must have been outstanding.