“A stupid question, I know, but…how the fuck is everybody doing out there in TV land?” It’s good to hear that even in the face of concert shutdowns, Dani Filth hasn’t lost his sense of humor. For a band as live-oriented as Cradle of Filth, being unable to take their vampiric black metal to the masses must be frustrating to say the least And yet for their livestreamed Dracula Spectacular, Cradle show up in fine form, with a setlist and sound quality that delights fans in shadowy corridors across the globe.
The first thing noticeable about Cradle of Filth’s virtual show is how solid the mix and performances are. It might be easy to think that an outfit with this many moving parts will be fine with one piece out of sorts, but it’s quite the opposite–remove a single brick, and the whole haunted castle crumbles. And yet throughout their performance, Cradle sound awesome, the guitars blazing and keys tinkling in perfect balance.
To his credit, Dani sounds excellent, perhaps even better than he does midway through a huge tour (understandably); one wonders if quarantine has given him an opportunity to shore up his voice and make this night count, which he certainly does. Also impressive is the band’s newly-introduced keyboard player and female vocalist Annabelle Iratni, who not only lives up to predecessor Lindsey Schoolcraft but adds a level of relish and enthusiasm that fans in the comments feed immediately pick up on. Everyone wants to know, Who is this new woman, and where has she been all our lives?
The comments feed, it should be noted, is incredibly heartwarming. While Cradle play, their fans from around the world gush praise and repeatedly mention how excited they are to be seeing their favorite band again. Not only that, but many of them reply with surprise at the show’s quality — with livestreams becoming commonplace and some bands phoning them in, viewers are stoked to see that Cradle are giving this one their all. It’s good to hear from the coven once more.
Another treat for fans is the setlist. While a mixture of material from albums both old and new, Cradle bring plenty of classics to the mix that have devotees slavering — “Cthulhu Dawn,” “Mannequin,” and “Saffron’s Curse” elicit all-caps response from viewers, while big singles like “Her Ghost In The Fog,” “Nymphetamine Fix,” and “From The Cradle To Enslave” make sure that even casual fans get what they want. It’s a gauntlet of tracks that everyone wants to hear — what every live show really should be.
If there is one flaw to the stream, it’s the staging. Cradle’s livestream was originally set to take place at St. Mary’s Church, but had to be moved due to COVID restrictions, and as such this performance feels more like a traditional concert than a blasphemous heavy metal ritual. There’s still plenty of visual treats here — pyro, snow, a cool gothic mic stand, some NSFW psychedelic footage — but it’s undeniable that Cradle’s full vision isn’t realized.
That said, the fans don’t seem bothered in the slightest. As the performance comes to a cacophonous end, the comments are full of unanimous praise; people say they’re planning to immediately rewatch the stream and ask if it will be released on CD. Cradle of Filth may be supreme vampyrrhic overlords intent on taking over the world, but at the end of the day, they are a fan-oriented band, here to give lovers of the dark and grandiose a moment of sick pleasure, and during this stream they succeeded. If we can’t bathe in blood and shadow live, this is surely the next best thing.
Tickets to Cradle of Filth’s Dracula Spectacular livestream are still available for purchase.
Words by Chris Krovatin