Lydia Lunch Dust & Shadows Tour @ The Curtin, Melbourne, Saturday July 6, 2019.

There appear to be a few old goths rolling solo in tonight’s audience and we’re all for it.

First up, we experience the experimental electronics of Hextape and what a captivating sonic space she inhabits! Building loops using beats from a laptop, live cello and singing, at first some of the rhythms don’t quite seem to gel, but then suddenly everything clicks and we’re totally in the zone, swaying and nodding our heads. When Hextape plays cello accompanied by tolling bell samples, impressed cheers go up. So glad to have made this classically trained sonic artist’s acquaintance.

The house lights dim. An eerie soundscape is triggered. “FREEDOM!” We hear Lydia Lunch’s voice before we see her. Lunch makes her way to the stage through the crowd, singing as she goes. Once up on stage, Lunch refers to notes on a music stand and delivers confrontational poetic material, alternating between two mics: “Freedom is just a hallucination… The question isn’t whether you’re paranoid, it’s whether you’re paranoid… enough.”

French visual artist Elise Passavant’s videography enhances the soundscapes, although it’s impossible to drag your eyes away from Lunch; her eyes penetrate the audience, almost daring you to look away. All cheer when Lunch hollers, “Kiss my ass, Kim f—ing Kardashian! You overblown f—ing tool!” Her vocal delivery swings from singsongy to whispering secrets in trademark raspy, deep tones and everything in between.

There’s a heckler, but as IF Lunch could ever be intimidated! Punters sometimes laugh uncomfortably as Lunch’s words are used as deadly weapons. Lunch’s “You Could Be Next” bit hits home, especially when she acknowledges: “I hear that five women have been killed around here in the past few years.” Once she’s done with each sheet of paper, Lunch licks her pointer finger in exaggerated fashion to collect it from the music stand and then quickly piffs it away. “Watch the feedback, Kevin!” Lunch screeches, in instructions for the sound engineer.

“I’m lonely as one left shoe with a busted ankle strap tossed out the window of the Starlight Motel” – Lunch paints vivid masterpieces with her words and we’re mass-hypnotised. A neighbour in the crowd exclaims, “WOW!” as one section finishes. During Lunch’s spoken-word anti-war/America piece, backed by military drums and squealing saxophone, she instructs us to look up Madalyn Murray O’Hair if we haven’t heard of her. (“She was the most hated woman in America until I f—ing came along.”)

Lunch promises her ghost will be as loud in death as she’s been in life and we sure as hell hope so! After she sings some Cat Stevens (“Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world”) Lunch supplies a hilarious aside: “his last good song”. She smashes her wine glass onto the stage “to honour the dead”, dedicating the “eulogy” that follows to Stephen “The Ghost” Walker and Rowland S. Howard. “We’re all just dust and shadows.” Super powerful stuff. Then one of Lunch’s Howard collabs, Some Velvet Morning, soundtracks her exit back through the crowd from whence she came.

Finally, a two-piece incantation of Black Cab play Suicide’s 1977 self-titled album and those who remain dance along to tracks such as Cheree and Frankie Teardrop. These renditions may sound more LCD Soundsystem than Suicide, but it’s still an uplifting way to conclude this evening’s proceedings.