You can read 4 more articles this week
I'VE seen, and taken part in, some wonderful events in the last 12 months but for me there is only one Gig Of The Year.
It’s not just Gig of the Year, it’s Film of the Year and Surreal Cultural Event/Collision of the Year too and it happened in Pyongyang four months ago. Best of all, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer until January 6.
And, comrades, in the spirit of both Laibach and North Korea, I will go as far as to declare NOT watching it to be a counterrevolutionary act. Storyville: When Rock Arrived In North Korea (Storyville, BBC4) is absolutely wonderful.
Last August, the gloriously stentorian Slovenian rock-classical-art-satirical “totalitarian” collective Laibach were invited to play a concert in North Korea as part of that country’s Liberation Day cultural programme celebrating 70 years since Japanese imperialist rule was ended. It was billed as the first time that foreign rock performers had ever gigged there.
It wasn’t and I have to declare an interest here. In 1989, while at the Political Song Festival in East Berlin, I was invited to Pyongyang to participate in the World Festival of Youth and Students held later that year. I was touring Canada then so couldn’t go but I persuaded them to book my mate Steve Drewett, singer of Harlow punks Newtown Neurotics, instead.
He went and had a wonderful, if strange, time. So he was there first. Sorry, Laibach. But that’s another story.
Having been intensely familiar with their work for the 30 odd years since I met them in London in about 1984, it was immediately obvious to me that Laibach and North Korea were the most appropriate pairing in history. To paraphrase Crowded House, everywhere they go, they always take a bit of North Korea with them anyway.
A Laibach show is a multimedia onslaught, where classic mass control methods become entertainment. In their own words: “All art is subject to manipulation except that which uses the language of the same manipulation.” Heaven knows how film director Morten Traavik managed to wangle the invitation. “I am setting up maybe the blindest of blind dates,” he said.
And what a collision it was — North Korean censors trying to understand the double-bluff of having their own methods thrown back at them, Laibach struggling with the fact that they did understand it sometimes and banned bits of the show. Band members and roadies wrestling with the task of putting together a 2017 multimedia show using 1970s — sometimes 1950s — technology.
Part of the band’s programme involved sections of The Sound of Music — deconstructing innocent pop tunes and turning them into roaring mass rally epics is a Laibach speciality — and there’s a hilarious moment where a suspicious censor demands to be read the lyrics. And someone goes for a walk when they shouldn’t, obviously.
The best bit of all is the concert itself, where invited guests experience the full force of Laibach for the first time and the reactions are wonderful. If you’re fascinated by North Korea or love Laibach you may have watched this already. To the rest of you, I cannot recommend it enough. Satire distilled to its purest form. A brilliant film.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.