Front 242 Live

The Riviera, Chicago, IL - September 15, 1991

This was the first concert of this type I had ever attended. The Riviera isn't the nicest venue in the world, but it has character, and there's lots of room. No chairs; all tickets were general admission. I didn't have the guts to get down on the floor by the stage, so I hung out on the second level. From where I was, I could see fairly well, since most of the people in front of me were short. =-)

The show, scheduled for 7:30, started around 7:55. The stage set-up was spartan but functional. There was a mike in the center, a couple (too small) video screens to one side, a digital percussion rig to another side, and a scaffold with a keyboard on it in a back corner. Three guys came out, one on the scaffold doing keyboard things, the other two on the main stage level. The backing music was at least sequenced, although I could tell that the guy on the scaffold was playing as much as he could manage. One guy was the vocalist, the other a combination percussionist/yeller.

I didn't recognize all the tunes, but I did recognize these: "Til Death Us Do Part", "Im Rhythmus Bleiben", "Headhunter", "Tragedy >for you<", "Never Stop". Overall, the keyboardist did a good job of keeping up, the vocalist did fairly well, and the percussionist was working awfully hard to not look completely useless. At times I had a hard time telling what percussion was his playing and what was part of the sequencing.

The crowd, mostly of the black-clothes variety, was friendly but didn't seem really into it. The venue was nowhere near a sellout, and there wasn't much electricity in the air. Nonetheless, most everyone seemed to be having fun.

The concert was really really really short by my standards. When I pay $25 for a ticket, I expect the band to pretty much put out, especially in that kind of venue. They only played for 75 minutes, so I felt more than a little cheated. I guess there weren't enough injuries in the pit for their taste. They did manage a short encore, doing a interesting version of "Welcome to Paradise", but it didn't salvage my opinion of the whole thing.

I realize that bands of this type aren't the best in a live setting, but I would have been more than satisfied had the show been longer or the tickets been cheaper. I really hope they were having a bad night, 'cause if this is the best they can do, I won't bother to see them again.

David L. Vessell (