Rarely does a neofolk show stir up as much excitement in London as Rome have with their debut show tonight at the Electrowerkz. Given the talk about this Luxemburg act among, oddly enough, black metallers in the underground, it is unsurprising to see the number of attendees. With the substantial amount of praise Rome receives, the fans are expecting nothing short of a monumental show.
Support comes from Jo Quail, who strikes a rare image on the stage alone with her electric cello. With an album and an EP to her name, the English cellist takes to playing rich melancholy instrumental music on her cello. The mood is dirge-like, complimented by Quail bedecked in a black dress among the smoke machines. Unfortunately, given the delicate nature of her music, conversations among the crowd can distinctly be heard throughout the entire performance. The Electrowerkz feels like an inappropriate venue for her, given that beer-stained metalheads may not be the most ideal audience for instrumental cello music. Nonetheless, Quail talks pleasantly to the punters and is certainly appreciative for the opportunity to play her music to new ears.
Formed in 2005 and with a healthy number of studio releases to their name, Rome (or more accurately Jérôme Reuter) has managed to successfully pack the minute venue. The folk music draws influences from electronic pop, gothic and industrial, which produces an apocalyptic yet emotive sound. Reuter's voice is perfectly deep and crystal clear as it resonates through the venue. Similarly, to Quail before them, Rome's performance s harmed by the loud conversations but fortunately, due to the entrancing mood of the music, the voices are easy to ignore.
With a wealth of material to draw from and this being the debut UK show, the setlist is wholly unpredictable. Selections include 'The Spanish Drummer', 'Das Feurodal', 'Die Nelke', 'Seeds of Liberation', 'Sons of Aeeth' and 'In Cruel Fire', each played with remarkable musicianship and professionalism that attains particularly enthusiastic responses from the audience, an interesting contrast to the delicate nature of the music. Voices singing along with Reuter make the venue feels like it is in complete solidarity with the music. His stage presence is a reserved one, wielding his acoustic guitar with self-assurance.
During the encore, Rome return to the stage to play two songs that have not yet been recorded. Nonetheless given the consistency of quality throughout Rome's discography, the new material presented staunchly remains in a similar vein and the audience appear to relish it. As the show closes, there is a rapturous ovation and Reuter states that they will return to London again.
The only true draw back from this performance is various members of the political right wing involving themselves in fights (despite Rome having no affiliation to such groups) but the vast majority of the crowd disregard this stupidity. It feels safe to say that the attendees thoroughly enjoyed this night of one of the best modern folk acts out there. Undoubtedly, when they return, the support will remain the same if not greater.