Melody Maker : 17 November 1984



SPK
Camden Palace, London

"Only playing where fire regulations permit" - the controversy approaching this event suggested that it would be more manic than last year's horrific onslaught on The Venue's masses. But, as the single, "Junk Funk", suggested, it seems SPK have taken the obvious route of their industrial holdings. Unfortunately, the obvious route isn't as enticing as their pre-Fairlight struggle.
The visuals projected onto the huge screen are perfect - multiple exposures and special effects, combined with vivid industrial imagery, play havoc with reality. The faces are perfect - the beauty and the beast; Sinan and Graham, Sampson and Delilah. And the music is perfect, but that's where the fault lies - with all their complex, expensive technology they've lost the raw excitement that aroused the audience into frenzy. With practically the whole set reeling from a tape, any spontaneity is lost. Graham misses his grip on the crossbar he's hammering into a rusted barrel, it takes an edge off the tone, but if you didn't see it you'd never know.
They rattle through "Machine Age Voodoo", filling the Palace with danceable, disposable pop. "Metal Dance", the single that once shone out from the cacophony of rebellion, now congeals with the concise programmed patter. The girls leave the stage, and return dressed in black, oriental, Bond-esque battledress; the mesh mask, the batons, all set for combat. The grinder appear and sends sparks into the ceiling, Graham grabs the microphone and begins bellowing. At last they're looking promising, but they can't pull it off.
the girls haven't a clue about combat and as someone from the crowd grabs one of the batons the whole concept becomes a shambles. Sinan's pounding the cowering spectator, Grham's getting entangled in the chain that's swinging above his head, and as a finale, they lose time with the tape, turning what could have been rhythmic, shambolic bliss into a cock-up of failed ideas.
They try, but they need a lot of practice to live up to the propaganda preceding them.

Mark Balmer



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