Faust Banana

I went to see Faust IV Live at the Union Chapel. When I bought my ticket for this event on 1st February 2020 it was scheduled for Friday 8th May 2020. On Tuesday 17th March 2020 I had an email saying the gig would be postponed. On Friday1st May 2020 I was told the new date would be Friday October 9th 2020. On Tuesday 1st September 2020 another email put the date back to June 9th 2021. Then on Friday 21st May 2021 another email stated the date would be 15th November 2021, and just before 7.30pm I took the picture of the sound-desk with a countdown showing 62.6 minutes remained until I would finally see the show.

Advance notice warned that entry was not just to ticket-holders, we would have to show proof of either a negative lateral flow test, or vaccination details/NHS pass. Just before 7pm I saw the huge line outside the Chapel, a stream of stereotypical Wire magazine readers (more than I imagined actually read that magazine), over 50% of whom probably heard this material on the 1975 tour. In the event the medical checking amounted to a security walking down the queue asking everyone to show their evidence, of which “blue cards” were acceptable – I have 2, one for the original 2 doses, and another for the booster, so that was all that was needed, other than showing my ticket. Once we got in most of the audience were unmasked.

Merchandise was available, including the fancy new box-set:

Since the Chapel is a functioning place of worship when it isn’t hosting concerts of guitar distortion, all attending had to sit in the rows of pews and up in the side galleries.

I went upstairs to the bar area, which was a very nice and spacious meeting place, and I saw a lot of leaflets advertising live entertainments at the time of the Great Disruption in Spring 2020. I wonder how long Robert Bathurst’s play ran on for.

Of course getting back down to the main area with just minutes before the start I discovered everyone else had got the seats in the middle and I had to go off to the side. That’s ok, because you can still see a lot from the side of the stage. The big stone unit near the back is the Pulpit.

The show commenced with a long introductory monologue by Jean-Hervé Péron, which mentioned that they recorded the album near Oxford in 1973. He also referenced the Pandemic and Brexit for disrupting tour plans. This is not in fact the original Faust line-up, since 2 of them have died along with their producer. A total of about 12 musicians were on stage, of varying ages (we were told later that one of the drummers is 18). It started with a long instrumental that was not on the album, we were told this was a new composition called “Run”, written by the organ player.

They played all of the album, but not in the original sequence. That makes sense since the original sequence starts with the ten-minute freakout of “Krautrock” which would always make more sense as a show-closer. Vocals on “Giggy Smile” and elsewhere were provided by Jean-Hervé’s daughter; this is not a group of anonymous session players since it includes members of Henry Cow/Slapp Happy and related bodies, doing it because they believed in it all. Jean-Hervé commented that “krauts rocking” was the sneer the group received on their first encounters with British audiences and music writers; they simply took the label and owned it for themselves. After the big number got played (and it sounds a bit more structured and layered as a live take with a big band, rather than the partition-wall-of-sound on the album) there was nothing more to do than introduce the line-up and bid farewell.

I saw Faust in a show with Nurse With Wound 6 years ago but although Jean-Hervé was definitely there I don’t know what the rest of that line-up was.

“Faust Banana” was the original session title of the track by The Fall that ended up called “Dktr. Faustus”. I don’t think it’s stated anywhere, but it’s a safe bet that it got that title because it was “inspired” (ie. ripped off) by taking a riff from a Faust song. It’s no secret that lots of early Stereolab tracks were just built around riffs taken off Faust or Neu! albums.

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