ON GOLDEN CLOUDS: ELIZIUM LIVE AT ADRENALINE STADIUM. – Generation P: Edward Crabtree’s blog.
NIZHNY NOVGOROD’S LOCAL HEROES HAVE BEEN BLASTING OUT THEIR UPBEAT SOUND FOR OVER TWO DECADES. BUT WHAT ARE THEY SO HAPPY ABOUT?
So it is up the Green line to the north-west of Moscow to the Adrenaline Sradium, one of the live music venues to have come out of the other end of the Big Stop.
The hype for this event had only been an on-screen one: I saw no posters
about it, but what hype it was! The event – billed as `Twenty Five Years in
Space` was to be an Anniversary bash and was evoked with nostalgic fanfare:
`It seems like yesterday we were putting on plaid shirts and mohawks and the walls of the Nizny Novgorod `Manhatten club thudded together with any musicians we could…`
And so on. Yet despite this generational framing, the assembled masses lining up outside the club on 17th September prove a nondescript bunch in terms of style and of all and every age. I catch sight of one man who seems to be accompanied by what might be his septugenerian mother. Conversely, another mother in her forties accompanies her daughter – who looks perhaps not yet sixteen – to as far as the entrance to the show.
Another incongruous aspect to the set up is the fact that a vaccine passport( in the form of a QR code) proving that you had had the Sputnik V jab is demanded for the privelege of them taking your money to see them. (The band, or their management are, I suppose, entitled to make such stipulations if they want but my ferverent wish is that such schemes do not become viral throughput Moscow).
Power Pop Dance.
ELIZIUM first took to the stage in 1995 in the tourist town of Nizhny Novgorod on the river Volga. The bass player Dmitry Kuznetsov, who took up music after having taken two degrees, is the kingpin and together with the singer Alexander Telekhov forms the mothership of a band that is characterised by a revolving door of contributors coming and going.
The band, somewhat lionised in their local city, boast some ten albums and, for all the line up changes, a distinct sound. `’`Space rock` (as they sometimes style it) it is not – or at any rate not if this term puts you in mind of Hawkwind and the like. (The only cosmic part of their performance lays in the numinous electronic ambient introductory soundtrack as the band enters the sage). Nor, nowadays at least, could the sound be pigeonholed as `punk` or even `ska punk`: it is too polished for that. If pressed I would call it `Power Pop Dance music`.
Heads up all the way, they deal out
big slabs of melodic sound held aloft by peppy rhythms and enthused vocals. They
are a slice of cherry pie swimming in cream and perhaps with some smarties
in it. Their very name, which they are
weary of being asked about, is the Greek word for `bliss`.
ELIZIUM comprise the usual string and drum set with two horns and a keyboardist, making them a seven piece plus backing girl singers and an occasional electric cello. With so much going on on the stage they do not add any dry ice or strobe lights or anything of that kind. They are of indeterminate age and favour skinny jeans, casual shirts and shades giving the proceedings a beach party ambience.
Doing some synchronised hopping from one foot to the other, they sustain an unstoppable dance machine for three hours or so. Some of the best performances are provided by the audience. In front of me a shapely peroxide blone bombshell girates about with her uber-chad boyfriend. It was what they had come for.
One of the band’s songs features a chorus which translated as `Golden Clouds` and this seems to pretty much encapsulate the carefree ethos which they are determined to put across.
This being a birthday do, there are guest stars too. Among those that I recognised are Lu Gevorkyan, the leade singer of LOUNA . She materialises, quite without preamble, looking chunkier than I had remembered, and her trademark roar seemed a little askew amidst all the froth. Likewise, isn’t that the dimunitive form of a pink haired version of SLOT’S Daria Stavrovich that I see before me?
ELIZIUM are self-conscious crowd pleasers and the devoted punters reward them for it. Even the brass section, it is refreshing to see, can bask in some of the kind of love more often given to guitar heroes. Searching my lexicon for a pithy word or two to pin them down I come up with `brassy` and `vaudevillian` and I think that about nails it as much as I can.
However, the brassy vaudevillianess is diluted a bit by the presence of several television camreras on and offstage. I sense that the quality of the musician’s playing has a detached feel about it, as though they are performing for on-screen posterity more than for us.
Without waitng fo the encore, I clamber out into the wide and dark boulevards outside feeling a bit out of sorts. The `golden clouds` may have been covid-free, but there was a kind of toxic positivity about them. I find myself sickening for some kind of confrontational bite – of the kind that a band like ICE3PEAK or, sometimes, PILOT can deliver. This seems vanishingly rare in the rock-pop world of Russian in the fourth term of Putin.