Can one go to a Clan of Xymox show and not wear black?
Star Theater, Portland, OR
Can one go to a Clan of Xymox show and not wear black? Portland’s Goth community was out in full force this week to support the darkwave legends. Just think about the combined hours spent putting on make-up, affixing skulls in hair and choosing the best suit or dress to match the occasion. Frequent these types of shows here and you will usually see the same people, be it the lead singer in a local Cure cover band or the scary-looking (but actually really nice) dude with the facial tattoos or that other guy who can actually throat-sing. They all may be two years older, and with a different partner, since the last time Xymox came around, but like vampires in search for blood, they will turn up nonetheless.
After leading in with the instrumental “Days of Black,” Xymox got down to business with crowd-favorite “Stranger.” With bassist Mario Usai away dealing with a family tragedy, lead singer/guitarist Ronny Moorings handled all the heavy lifting during the 17-song, nearly two-hour set, flanked by two musicians on synths. It took some adjustment to get used to hearing so much sound come from such a naked stage. For a few songs, a guest bassist stepped in.
Moorings seemed to be in a good mood, cracking jokes and introducing songs during his interstitial banter. Though Moorings pushed a limited-edition vinyl reissue of Twist of Shadows, the only song from that album to make the setlist was“ Obsession”—and not until the second encore—leaving a good portion of songs to come from the band’s self-titled debut and Days of Black. Still, songs like “A Day” carry a lot of weight, ushering the audience to dance and sing along.
The crowd was a little rowdier than often seen at a Portland show. A fight between two women broke out right before the stage and security needed to intervene as one combatant dragged the other about by her hair. People pushed to the front and one intoxicated woman collapsed towards the end of the set. Though Moorings could see the chaos taking place right under his nose, he didn’t allow it the affect his performance.
It may be strange to say, but without Usai’s live bass, the sound was somewhat clearer this time around. Melancholy songs such as “Louise” felt especially sorrowful while the punchy “Muscovite Mosquito” reinvigorated the crowd as the hour crept closer to 1am.
For many, the chance to see a 4AD legend such as Moorings up close proved to be super exciting. Enrique Ulgade, who opened under stage name Soriah, had an opportunity to sing with Moorings during “Obsession” and could barely suppress his enthusiasm, begging someone in the audience to film the moment. After finishing the show with “Farewell,” Moorings invited everyone to stay for the Goth/industrial dance night that took over the Star Theater thereafter. Though the room did clear out some, many people remained to buy merch and dance until closing time. Just like any good creature of the night should do.