After the band’s hiatus of 16 years and the rescheduling of the Vive Le Rock Awards over three consecutive years, Lords of The New Church finally reformed for a short set with founding members Brian James (guitar) and Dave Tregunna (bass), with the addition of Mark Taylor (keyboards), Terry Chimes (drums) and Hanoi Rocks’ Michael Monroe (vocals) stepping in for the spirit of Stiv Bators to complete the line-up. Original drummer Nick Turner (The Barracudas) joined them on percussion.

Taylor’s gothic keys introduction awoke the darkened stage, joined in by James’ turbulent guitar which announced ‘New Church’, the band’s 1982 debut single. They then went straight into ‘Livin’ On Livin” from the same album, with Chimes’ ride cymbal drumming and James’ choking, car crashing guitar, but Monroe, who lit up his face with coloured light bulbs, sang too forcefully. 1983 single, ‘Dance With Me’, whilst containing its keyboard compositions, gothic fairytale backing vocals and Monroe’s saxophone solo, was lacking the correct rhythm on the drums that meant it wasn’t able to attain the magnitude of the original song.

The chrome guitar of third single ‘Russian Roulette’ followed, which wasn’t quite on point and the drumming too slow, but 1984 single, ‘Method To My Madness’, saw some relief in Taylor’s flamboyant keyboard waves. Rat Scabies, who like Chimes briefly toured with the band back in the day, then arrived on stage to present James with an award, relating a story of how he had first met him in 1975 in a chip shop in Paddington and rightfully tributed his great influence on musicians. When Scabies then took over on drums, the set suddenly energised as the band finished on a cover of The Damned’s first single ‘New Rose’. A disappointing anti-climax to a long wait for a sacrilegious, memory destroying, short 30-minute set.

06/04/23: Vive Le Rock Awards: Lords of The New Church @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London.

Photo © 2019 Per-Åke Wärn.

© Ayisha Khan.