Recoil, O2 Islington Academy, London, England, April 25, 2010

By: Johan Carlsson

I didn't really know what to expect from Recoil's first venture on to the stage. However, I thought I knew what it would sound like. I was wrong, but more on that later.

The evening started off with the British electropop duo Atomizer, who did a so-so job of firing up the crowd. The music sounded alright, but they were let down by some weak singing unfortunately. And they didn't play their biggest hit "Hooked on Radiation" (famously remixed by the Pet Shop Boys) for some weird reason.

Then Paul Kendall - also known as PK, sound engineer extraordinaire for Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, Recoil and many more - walked on stage, and I thought that it was time for the main act. It was Olivia Louvel however, with PK doing the live mixing. She played some nice triphoppy/dubstep sort of stuff, and I enjoyed it. She should make better use of the microphone though; lots of people on forums still don't know who she was, as it was not announced before the gig or clear enough from the stage.

Finally, Alan Wilder went on stage to rapturous applause. Overall, I quite like the direction Alan has taken with the stage show, although it really is more like a DJ set than anything else. You couldn't tell what Paul or Alan were doing up there, but they seemed to be very much into the music. There were no singer or live instruments whatsoever, which is a bit sad, but it wasn't really announced as a concert, rather a "Strange Hour", so who am I to complain? I never got bored.

Great looking projections were shown on the huge screen behind Alan and Paul, including some really cool footage from H.R. Geiger. The music however was the main focus, and boy, had Alan reworked his material. He has taken his Recoil sound into the present, with not so subtle hints of dubstep and breakbeat. It was dark, atmospheric, heavy, rhythmic and thanks to the sublime PA at the venue, fantastically detailed. Mostly the songs flowed in and out of each other, which together with the imagery created a hypnotic mood. And yes, he did play the "Aggro Mix" of "Never Let Me Down Again".

It makes you wonder what Depeche Mode would sound like if Alan came back now. Maybe we would have proper beats and some atmosphere again.