The first taste of live music in 2024 is a trip across the border and into the Exchange for a night of Cider and black and guyliner n Goth for Swedens Agent Side Grinder are opening tonight’s show in support of the most excellent Then Comes Silence.

With a healthy turnout Agent Side Grinder takes to the stage bathed in a sea of Fog (as you’d expect) and turn up the electronic goth tones for a forty-five-minute take on some very impressive Soft Cell meets Depeche Mode whilst absorbing the Gary Numan back catalogue synth Goth (if you looking for a yardstick to measure their sound then these seem like the perfect touching point) This three piece (Two Keyboards and one vocalist) deliver a modern twist on ‘Speak and Spell’ meets ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret’ hailing from Stockholm and already having delivered six studio albums in their almost twenty year existence I’m almost ashamed to say this was my first time seeing the band.

Supporting their 2023 album ‘Jack Vegas’ the band got on with business and aided by the most excellent PA in the Exchange they were able to turn it up and dive in. Songs like ‘Waiting Room’, ‘Madeleine’ and ‘Wolf Hour’ sounded excellent and bringing Alex from Then Comes Silence up for a few tracks added another level to their sound that came to life with the additional bass guitar, giving the songs more depth and a big bottom end. Emanuel led this synth trio through an impressive set and I’m glad I was there early enough to catch the perfect opener to ease you back into the live arena after a few weeks off from live shows.

Then Comes Silence are back to a three-piece and take to the stage and proceed to spend the next hour or so delivering the perfect guitar-based Goth Rock currently doing the rounds anywhere. The three-piece kicks off with ‘Ticket To Funerals’ and roll straight into ‘Flashing Pangs Of Love’. Hugo is whirling in circles as he throws out the Brian James Lords-inspired riffs drenched in delay and chorus that evoked memories of a young Daniel Ash at his prime so much so that I commented he played the riff of ‘Fashing Pangs’ at about two o’clock that afternoon such was the delay on the overdrive. However, the sound as per usual in the Exchange is second to none, and Then Comes Silence are playing a blinder. A well-oiled machine that they are they throw out banger after banger touching on Goth greats Such as the aforementioned Lords Of The New Church as well as a host of other post-punk bands who dabbled in Goth. It’s no surprise that Wayne Hussey holds them in such high regard with songs like ‘We Lose The Night’ and ‘Warm Like Blood’ dripping with sheer class and a hint of The Mish in their DNA.

A frenzied pit of Gothness broke out mid-set and a more polite and gentile mosh pit you won’t find anywhere this side of Hades. The fuzz of ‘Strangers’ gave me goosebumps and the relentless attack on my senses was further heightened as the fantastic ‘Strange Kicks’ played out. There wasn’t much in the way of banter between songs more preferring to let the music do their talking and to be fair they sounded fantastic as we headed for the final Hurrah as ‘The Rest Will Follow’ made way for the inspired ‘Animals’ and without fanfare, we were done.

That was nothing short of awesome. How this band are playing small clubs is a mystery, they should be rolling through towns with trucks hauling their gear and large concert venues being laid waste with plumes of dry ice and the sound of distorted decaying riffs ringing through your ears.

This old Goth can go out into the cold winter air happy in the knowledge that 2024 got off to the best possible start gig-wise. I only hope 2024 sees a new album and more live shows from my favourite Swedish Goth Rock band. That set my friends will take some beating and its only just January.

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Author: Dom ‘Nosferatu’ Daley

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