Welcome to the iconic London Palladium in the heart of London’s Soho, not for a Sunday night variety show, but for a night of music and macabre mayhem. Black metal legends Cradle of Filth are here. not just playing one set but two. There was also a master of ceremonies for the night on this auspicious occasion dressed like Uncle Fester from the Addams family.
The support was another legend, DJ Amazonica, otherwise known as Victoria ‘Harry’ Harrison aka Dirty Harry. This lady has appeared everywhere: the Oscars, Venice Film Festival, the Baftas, and has also released two albums, getting in the Top 40 with her own music. She has opened for Marilyn Manson in America and tonight was working again with C.O.F. She is one of the most respected DJ’s in the world.
Spinning a mix of hardcore metal, hip hop, and old school rock, her official photographer followed her around with his flash going non-stop but he did get a bit annoying. However, she got the crowd moving; downstairs at least, upstairs where I was there was a less warm reception.
Having done a bit of deejaying in the past I appreciated her skill, but much of the audience with me thought this was a good time to go to the bar and get some drinks. Speaking to some they would have preferred a live band rather than someone playing music to them.
Tonight, for all Cradle of Filth fans was very special indeed as their first set was going to be their third album marking its 21st anniversary Cruelty and the Beast played in its entirety. This was a concept album based around the legend of the Hungarian “blood countess” Elizabeth Bathory.
The curtains pulled back and you could tell right from the start this was a huge production: a massive staircase leading up to a balcony with a real gothic feel to it. The band standing all with their backs to the audience came onto the intro Once Upon Atrocity with chanting monks and haunting organ sounds it created a fantastic atmosphere.
The whole set piece was incredible: spotlights coming out of every angle hitting the ceiling and spinning. On either side at the top of the staircase were two platforms; one with Drummer Martin ´Marthus´
Skaroupka, the other with the vampish and excellent Lindsay Schoolcraft – Narrative vocals and Keyboards. In front of the stage were three platforms, each with two smoke machines under them for the rest of the band Richard Shaw Guitarist, Marek ‘Ashok’ Smerda – Guitars and Daniel Firth Bass to stand above the crowd when they wanted to. Not forgetting the charismatic man with the growl and Meister of Mayhem Danni Filth on lead vocals.
This satanic six piece changed the whole feel of Black/Extreme metal by mixing gothic and symphonic together to create a much fuller cleaner sound. I won’t go into the first set to much as anyone reading this should know the album, if not go and buy it! suffice to say no expense was spared, there were pyrotechnics; loads of eerie, smoke terrific use of spots and lighting and a sexy vamp throwing roses into the crowd to end the first half.
During the interval the MC came back on to do his schtick, he was obviously there to get the crowd worked up which he did a really good job of, with chants of get off (or words to that effect). He handled the boos and jeers brilliantly before it was time again for the band to play their second set, this was going to be a mix of fans favourites.
Upping the atmosphere with the thunder clap and orchestral ghostly intro A Bruise Upon a Silent Moon from their 2003 album Damnation and a Day, Danni returns with a new costume change resplendent in his cape. This is followed by some of the best speed drumming I’ve heard in a long time kicking off The Promise of Fever from the same album, then one that had the crowd surfing, moshing you name it, Malice Through the Looking Glass from their second album the 1996 Dusk and Her Embrace.
This set was less pyro and more lighting, but what effects they had illuminating the stage for all to see, the spots and strobes moving all over the whole of the Palladium. I loved the power chord guitar duo work and they did like to pose for the photographers in the pit, combine this with the almost operatic voice of Lindsay and the death growls from Danni and that’s Cradle of Filth in a nutshell.
A big mention to Mr Whippy as I’ve nicknamed him, their wonderful bassist Daniel never standing still and spinning around like a top and whipping his long mane of hair around all night. They played one song from Heartbreak and Séance, their 2017 album Cryptoriana The Seductiveness of Decay, but tonight was mainly about the old songs and they really treated the fans.
What next for the hungry audience? how about topless nuns licking blood off each other, the whole night was full of dramatic effects but this topped it all. Two sexy nuns come to the stage to wolf whistles, one setting a bible alight, they then begin to strip off and get down to it.
Danni by the end of the night must have been exhausted not only singing two sets but making use of the staircase climbing it every other song, punching his arms out like some heavyweight vampire.
The fans were promised something special tonight and the band certainly provided it by the bucketful, ending the night with From the Cradle to Enslave from the ep of the same name, with an explosion of ticker tape and the final instrumental Blooding the Hounds of Hell. You can see why this band are legendary.
Cruelty and the Beast Remixed and Remastered is released on 1st November.
Review by Dave Martin masterofmetal58 on Twitter and all photos by Carol Henson aka Lady Gigger.
For Metal Planet Music