November 8, 2016 VNV Nation Bring 20th Anniversary Party To NYC 10-29-16
Evolving in the late ’90s, the genre of Futurepop was born, and one of the pioneers of the sub-genre was Germany’s VNV Nation. Overall two decades since their 1995 debut album, Advance and Follow, the unique styling of Vocalist Ronan Harris and rhythm by Mark Jackson has developed a devoted following. Thanks to their sharp Synthpop to EBM sounds created by Jackson, to the emotive and impactful lyrics sung by Harris, VNV Nation has reach an idolized level.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary, VNV Nation decided to give a special treat to their fans with their North American Compendium Tour. A tour that they promised a three-hour delivery for each city, along with a special and unique setlist, it kicked off on October 7th in Seattle, Washington and concluded fittingly on Saturday, October 29th, in New York City. Performing at the Playstation Theater, it has been well over two years since they appeared in The Big Apple, where many fans recall their 2014 visit to the Bowery Ballroom. This time, they packed out the larger Playstation Theater, a venue in the heart of Times Square, for a night full of twists and turns.
Halloween weekend, many dressed for this particular occasion in costume. Anxious to see the performance, some rushed in early that evening to look at the merchandise booth, buy a round of drinks, while others went straight to the front of the stage to claim their spot on the floor. Making friends, fans told others the city they drove up from, and then it was time for VNV Nation to begin this three-hour marathon. Then, without warning, the room went black, leaving a few flashes of back light where Harris lurked in the shadows during 2002’s “Foreward.” From there, they went into 2011’s “Space & Time” and 2009’s “Tomorrow Never Comes” while a tireless Harris continuously ran across the stage, hiding away from the spotlight as they moved into songs such as “Darkangel,” “Nemesis,” and “Carbon.” Regardless of where Harris was on the platform, everyone on the floor below danced around and sang along to songs including “Epicentre” and “Legion.”
As the set warmed up, the lights moved into a brighter blue as Harris playfully admitted, “Ok, you want to see me in the light?” and with that, they moved into 2009’s “The Great Divide.” Embracing Harris’ humor, momentum picked up as the music turned to the faster rhythm of “Control.” An acceleration that had many looking to catch their breath, it was time to slow things down with the beautiful track “Illusion.” A momentous rendition, the song holds a definite meaning to many, as quite a few fans in the room were seen with tears rolling down their face. A mix of sadness and hope, when “Sentinel” began, the tone was much lighter, flowing into “Gratitude.” Taking everyone to more present times, Harris went on to offer newer tunes to the mix, such as 2013’s “Off Screen,” before 2007’s “Testament,” 2000’s “Further,” and 1999’s “Standing.” With the first quarter of the set nearing a close, Harris informed all, “I’m not even going to say people of New York, going to say people of the North East as last night was for people of the South East,” as they moved into tunes “Homeward” and “Everything.” Provoking more cheers, they finished the main portion of the set with “The Farthest Star.” Knowing more lay ahead, the room was filled with loud chants of “VNV!”
After a short break, VNV Nation returned and went into the classic tune “Frika.” Blasting through their timeline at warp speed, Harris took to more recent era VNV nation with “Retaliate.” Despite being on stage for the extensive time, Harris did not even seem out of breath as he continued on, wanting everyone to sing during “Chrome.” A second set going by in the blink of an eye, it was time for another conclusion, one Harris called “the anthem of VNV Nation.” That track is the 1998 favorite “Solitary,” where Jackson managed to escape from his drums to walk closer to look at the crowd. It was shortly after the music stopped, when Harris shouted to the crowd, “I love you, thank you.”
While the previous encore was filled with their classic danceable hits, VNV opted to provide a more emotional roller coaster during the second encore. Returning to the stage, Harris announced, “Whenever we come back, all we see is one hundred screens of people updating their Facebook statuses. Where have we gone?” Chuckling, they moved into “Nova” as the light beamed brighter, mirroring the amplified emotions of the audience. After the stirring tune, Harris surprised everyone, inviting Apoptygma Berzerk’s Stephen Groth on the stage to join in for a duet of “Kathy’s Song (Come Lie Next To Me).” A wonderful bonus, Apoptygma Berzerk are also another beloved member of the modern Electronic music world.
Shifting the mood once more, it was time for another heartwarming piece with “Beloved,” where Harris’ delivery was immensely powerful. A chilling moment, the group played on with “Perpetual” to conclude the night. Explaining to the audience about tours over the years, Harris admitted witnessing fans who at first did not even know who they were and bought a ticket just to check out the show, and soon after become devoted followers. Alluding that the evening was over, no one moved, awaiting for the third encore to begin. Returning, Harris joked around with the audience some more before going into their true finale, 2011’s “Resolution.” One last chance for everyone to raised their hands in the air and dance around, Harris made sure to let it be known VNV played for exactly three hours.
Full of passion and color, VNV Nation kept their promise and delivered a full three hour set dressed with songs from throughout their catalog. The participation between Harris and the fans remained heartwarming and it was an experience like no other. Thank you for over twenty years to VNV Nation, may they give their listeners twenty more.