The Belgian EBM industrialists played two rare 40th anniversary shows in England, their only live dates within the country for years. Formed of original frontman Jean-Luc De Meyer and additional vocalist Richard 23 as well as Patrick Codenys (keyboards, programming), they entered the stage shining torches and dancing to ‘First In/First Out’, before moving onto ‘Take One’ – a track from their first EP ‘Endless Riddance’ released following their 1983 debut album ‘Geography’, of which it retains similarities in sound with its sonar sounding scuttering synth keys. ‘Don’t Crash’ featured Richard playing additional drums and the whistling war siren synth interlude.

The band progressed to their 1987 ‘Official Version’ studio album with ‘Quite Unusual’; dark drumbeats excited by brass flashes, and 1984’s ‘No Comment’ with ‘No Shuffle’, which they had not played the previous night. They also performed a new song, ‘Deeply Asleep’; a relentless arachnoid treadmill with lazer sounds and crashing industrial effects. F242 went to their earliest work with the very first track on the band’s first album, ‘Operating Tracks’, and another track from the same album ‘U-men’ was hybridised with ‘W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G’, which was also put out last year as a live release from their ‘Ancienne Belgique’ ’89 tour.

As F242 neared the end of their set they played their influential single ‘Headhunter’ from ‘Front By Front’, to the delight of the audience, and then onto their ‘Tyranny (For You)’ album with ‘Moldovia’, before returning to the previous album to finish the set on ‘Welcome To Paradise’, complete with its well known samples.

17/07/22: Front 242 @ O2 Academy Islington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.