The Sheffield old hands are 25 years old and to celebrate, they played a big old gig at the Roundhouse with Lacuna Coil and Katatonia. Not bad, eh? David Keevill popped up to Camden to see the whole shebang unfold.
6 things we learnt at Paradise Lost’s silver jubilee
1) Paradise Lost may be playing this tour in their 25th year of existence, but Katatonia have something to celebrate too. This show, on the tenth anniversary of their release of the seminal Viva Emptiness, is an understated but nonetheless astonishing demonstration of Katatonia’s overflowing discography. Viva Emptiness may have been a moment in time for these hardy Swedes, but it remains the best example of their accomplished interplay between sprawling darkness and measured, thunderous delivery.
2) Jonas Renkse’s voice ties it all together. Tonight, the staggering vocal delivery of ‘Evidence’s magnificent ode to twisted obsession – “If you die, I will die too” – punches above the song’s throbbing backline, sending wave after wave of shivers down my spine. Katatonia’s vocals are indebted to Jonas’s versatility and compulsive need to push the aside any necessities that his band’s music might ask of him, so on songs like ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Wait Outside’, Jonas scales to the top of his range in an emulation of Viva’s unfortunates and destitutes.
3) Lacuna Coil couldn’t be more different. Yes, I understand this slot obviously means a lot to Scabbia et al., as the co-lead vocalist reminds us that “without Paradise Lost we wouldn’t be here”, but in the years since their inception they’ve deviated heavily from this ‘influence’. After the conviction of Katatonia and a rendition of an album drenched in tangible sadism, ‘Swamped’ and ‘Heaven’s A Lie’ sound millimetres deep and fail to register beyond any facile level.
4) Paradise Lost meet somewhere between these two bands, obviously heavily indebted to the sellable miasma of Type O Negative and their doom roots, but so utterly capable of writing gargantuan musical hooks that in recent years they’ve remained at the absolute peak of what they do.
5) Backstage, the band admitted to me that this 25 year anniversary date was more a concoction of the commercial types around them than anything they came up with. Who cares though? This is Paradise Lost in a fucking great venue, getting to play everything and anything from their back catalogue; there’s something really old (‘Gothic’), something new (‘Tragic Idol’), something bold (‘Isolate’ – by “bold”, read “whyyy?”) and blue (‘Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us’ did a pretty good job of painting the inside of my boxers). It’s a greatest hits showing, with a couple of obscurities thrown in to justify the existence of recently released b-sides compilation Tragic Illusion.
6) So even bands like Paradise Lost, who always seem to remain so absolutely above the commercial pigsty, sometimes give concessions to the musical Tristrams. This obviously isn’t dwelled upon for a second tonight though; Nick Holmes won’t speak to me before the show in order to preserve his voice, and it suddenly makes sense. Throughout this huge set, he belts, growls and gurns his way through some of the best songs ever written. Paradise Lost, as little as they’re willing to claim this show as an accolade of their remarkable career, have both support acts as proof of their continuing and exceptional influence over a generation of bands who seek the shadowed pleasures found in darkness.