Emilie Autumn - The Electric Ballroom
I’m no lip reader but I know “Oh my God” when I see it. For tonight a thousand Plague Rats lined Camden’s busy market street while hundreds of onlookers stood with jaws agape or walked on by with confused frowns; curiously though their fingers itched for that shutter-button as if turning away was an altogether impossibility. Social acceptance still has a little way to go it seems but for those who fight against the system’s pressures, they would unite in flaunting their individualism and sharing a common bond. Tonight they would be very special guests indeed as The Asylum welcomed them through its doors.
Emilie Autumn’s ‘Fight Like a Girl’ tour (or F.L.A.G) is perhaps one of her biggest undertakings to date. Extending beyond the successful formula of her second studio album, Opheliac, F.L.A.G. takes on a narrative flow in line with that of her semi-autobiographical novel The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls and the upcoming album Fight Like a Girl. The classically burlesque performance oozes ambition in its cleverly crafted storytelling - its set list interspersed with wildly funny monologues offsets an otherwise ominous quality to proceedings, with its combination of social commentary and gothic aesthetics, which range from the erotic to at-times terrifying. And while playing with fire was off the cards tonight the vaudeville aspects were still a joy to behold. Meticulously choreographed numbers saw Emilie and The Bloody Crumpets (Captain Maggot, Veronica Varlow and The Blessed Contessa) partake in sword and spoon fights, while the much beloved tea and cake sessions were on full offering.
Part of the fun at Emilie’s gigs is the amount of audience participation. To get hit in the face with a teacake or doused in tea is a Plague Rat’s dream come true - well, that or getting dragged up on stage to smooch the divine Veronica. That would be “The Rat Game” by the way, whereby Veronica would “corrupt” another young female inexperienced in the art of kissing women. (Those not so lucky though were reassured that Veronica was indeed making out with every one of them in her mind.) Aspects like this are a testament to Ms. Autumn, in that she surrounds herself with such talent and utilizes them in a way that benefits the overall experience. Every one of the girls gave terrific solo performances to showcase their talents and wonderful personalities. It’s no wonder the fans came in droves.
By its end Emilie would bid us all farewell. Emotionally drained from a staggering set, she would look upon her adoring fans and praise them for their tenacity, followed by a very special announcement: 2014 will see Emilie Autumn and The Bloody Crumpets take on the West End with a full-scale production which promises to be something spectacular. What better way to finish off a truly memorable evening.
On a final note, it’s a shame that the evening had to be soured by an appallingly managed merch booth that had just one chap serving. Fans, with myself in tow, had been stood in line for thirty minutes or more, only to be turned away because they needed the floor by 22:30pm. All very well but it wasn’t difficult to gauge the level of demand for tonight’s performance. With ten minutes left more help was brought in but it was still too late; some justified arguing from fans to nonplussed or simply uncaring security guards ensued and it wasn’t very pleasant. Quite simply an insult, one that I hope isn’t repeated in future.
These photos are copyrighted. Please do not reprint without express permission.
The entire set of photos can be seen in my Emilie Autumn set.