So, last Thursday I was at the Academy in Manchester to see Emilie Autumn. I must admit I was less excited about this concert than the two previous ones; Emilie has been touring the same music for nearly three years now. But, unlike most, she can get away with it. An Emilie Autumn concert is really unlike any other. Of course her music is prominent, but the stage show transcends the music and it is that show which has developed and transmuted over the three years. It blends burlesque, cabaret and circus into an incredible entertainment and the interchanges between Emilie and her group The Bloody Crumpets is central to the performance. The Crumpets are a group of alternative models/ fashion designers/ circus artistes dressed in corsets, bloomers and striped stockings who sing, act and perform during and between what are effectively musical interludes to the show. The nature of the change over time hits home when you watch her sing a song like Misery Loves Company, once a bitter gloomy song, to a background of the Crumpets dancing with open white umbrellas with red spirals, and patting out large red and white balloons into the audience. Misery was never so happy. Any apprehension about going back vanished as soon as it began.
These shows have a wider meaning to me. It was Emilie’s show in Sheffield two years ago that really marked my return to gigging after a long break – that break that many people face as they raise a family, and gigs quickly seem to become a distant memory. Then you reach the stage of wondering whether you’re too old to go back, will you look ridiculous – a parent in a sea of kids.
It was this show two years ago that taught me that I could go back, and in a way I found a spiritual home in going back. It’s a key point in Emilie’s shows that many of the audience are dressed as well as or better than the performers. The audience there in those days were predominantly Goths, and the range of outfits on display were fascinating and entrancing. I realised then that I’ve always been a Goth although individually rather than part of any scene. I think I was one before they’d ever been invented. I was one long back then, when it was summer in the city – everyone drove out to the country for the day, but I’d be the one to walk down to my favourite place in the city, a deserted church with an overgrown graveyard and spend the day reading Ann Radcliffe. I’m the one who seeks out deserted churches on holiday while the rest are on the beach, stands on the wind blown ramparts of ruined castles, luxuriating in wind and rain at one with the elements. So finding Emilie was like finding a community I had always belonged to but had never tried to seek out.
So Emilie Autumn for me was an introduction, an introduction back into live music, and in the last two years I’ve become a regular again, and an introduction to a wider culture that I had always known was out there somewhere but now I know where.
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls – Emilie Autumn
Religious To Damn