Marc Almond is captured in a performance at the Lokerse Festival in Belgium on August 7, 2000, in this video. Accompanied only by guitarist Neal X and keyboard player John Green, the singer begins with four consecutive songs from his most recent album at the time, Open All Night, before turning to his back catalog for such solo hits as "Tears Run Rings," "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart," "A Lover Spurned," "Jacky," "My Hand over My Heart," "The Days of Pearly Spencer," "The Idol," and "Child Star," then filling his encores with his early Soft Cell hits "Tainted Love," "Bedsitter," and "Say Hello Wave Goodbye." The unadorned stage with only modest lighting and special effects (a small fan blows dry ice around), plus the small ensemble require Almond to exert himself before an audience that seems (from the few glimpses of it), attentive but not particularly enthusiastic, at least until the end. Beginning in a leather coat, the bleach-blond singer is soon down to a sparkly black shirt, unbuttoned to display his tattoos, as he gesticulates grandly and, gradually, the music takes on more of a hard disco sound that gets his listeners dancing more. The real turning point is the dance arrangement of "Jacky," a song written by Belgium's own Jacques Brel; from then on, Almond is home free. Interestingly, in a half-hour interview included with the 71-minute show on the DVD, a brunette Almond is dispassionate about his performance. Looking back four years in the talk, recorded in 2004, he notes that the Belgium show was unusual for the tour, which mostly played more intimate venues appropriate for the Open All Night material, and that he always feels uncertain playing festivals, at which he isn't really certain he's playing for fans and feels required to fall back on his hits. He says the video is an "interesting document" for fans, but makes no great claims for it, and that's fair enough. The rest of the interview is devoted to events in his career after 2000, including discussions of the 2002 Soft Cell reunion and his 2003 "Russian" album Heart on Snow. The DVD also contains a brief biography and an extensive discography running through 2003.
Live at Lokerse Feesten Review
by William Ruhlmann