For the first time in 34 years, the legendary Neofolk act Death In June came to Canada on their extensive world tour. On the nights of November 27th and 28th I was lucky to see them at the nightclub Nocturne.
Despite the sub-par venue, the first night was packed to the brim with fans eager to hear the front man of Death In June, Douglas Pearce, sing his morose songs. The anticipation in the air was palpable, and once Douglas Pearce was on stage, with 12-string guitar in hand, the crowd was… Silent. It wasn’t only me who noticed it, Douglas Pearce himself remarked “a quiet bunch, aren’t you?”. Maybe the crowd didn’t like the stripped down performance of a sole Douglas Pearce performing, since percussionist John Murphy passed away mere weeks before the performance. Perhaps it was hearing renditions of the Martial Industrial songs like Smashed To Bits that originally featured layered synths and horn melodies played only on acoustic guitar? I assume the crowd was silent for the same reason I was. We were silent in reverence of actually seeing Death In June perform, though after a handful of songs, the crowd loosened up.
The second night was different all on it’s own. There were far less people. They provided chairs for some to sit. I was early enough to get a seat in the very front, and got to take the picture featured above (in all it’s cellphone-quality!). I also got to see a candid version of Douglas Pearce I didn’t expect. Douglas Pearce has been a a man who was purposefully nebulous, enigmatic, and distant throughout his career. Perhaps it was the thin veneer fading after all these years, or maybe after 37 years of music he’s ready to let down the mask, if only a little.
All in all, the experience was fantastic, and I feel lucky to see Death In June play a show on what for all intents and purposes seems to be their last tour ever.