'Big' is a key word with Faust. They have had a big effect on the development of music, inspiring many famous artists. They are 'big' in other senses too. The percussionist is big, the sound is big, the stage set is big.
As well as various guitars, keyboards and percussion instruments, there was an oil drum, a concrete mixer, a circular blade from a chain- saw, and hanging up on the rectangular frame in the middle, a jagged piece of sheet metal with the word 'Faust' scrawled on it. A bulldog clip and wire appeared to 'earth' the metal, I wasn't sure if this was just for show.
The huge percussionist could have been the inspiration for Shrek, and is the rhythmic powerhouse of the band. The hirsute lead singer, with his beard, long hair and glasses, dressed in overalls, is straight from the early 70s. The other band member on keyboards and guitars, younger and with long hair, looks relatively 'normal', a word not usually associated with the band Faust.
Faust also have a smell: a timbre of oil and metal shavings coming from the stage area. There was the sense of a large industial complex in the Ruhr, maybe a steel works, or the main hall of a power station.
I arrived during a pause in the music, when the lead singer was attempting to quieten down the large and restless audience. Contrasting with the industrial setting, a young woman, both vocally and facially very beautiful, read a poem.
Then band got back into gear, the percussionist squatting on his stool beating a primeval rhythm on the tom toms with his outsize limbs, the stage lights blazing, the singer mouthing incomprehensible vocals in English, German and French.
The music conjured up the image of an enormous juggernaut made out of bits of discarded metal, all riveted, bolted or welded together. As it moved slowly forward we were drawn deeper and deeper into the world of Faust.
The band radiated power - enough, I'm sure, to supply a small to medium-sized town - highlighted by the blazing spotlights and deafening volume.
The performance reached a climax when the band members lit flames on stage. Flaring up and pouring out copious amount of smoke - actually most of it was stage smoke with a characteristic smell - the post- industrial power hall was transformed into a medieval castle.
Smoke filled the entire stage and auditorium, the lights shining multcolour beams and making ghostly shadows, eerily reminiscent of phonecam images from the Tube bombings.
Finally, silhouetted in the light, the band members threw their instruments aside, came to the front, bowed,, and made their way off stage. After many minutes of chanting and cheering, they were persuaded to returned for one more number.
Faust was an unforgettable, though deafening experience. I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to see the modern incarnation of one of the most seminal acts in rock history.
Many thanks to Futuresonic festival for the opportunity to cover this event. Visit www.futuresonic.com.
The official Faust website www.faust-pages.com with tour information, discography, photos, reviews.
Find out more about Faust on Wikipedia.
Review of Manchester-based Rare as a Green Dog evening at Futuresonic.
This is the first draft of the article. More detail will be added later. Any comments, suggestions, corrections or further information? Please contactWritten by Aidan O'Rourke