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Watch Tones on Tail’s First Performance in 40 Years at Cruel World Fest 2024

This past weekend’s aurora borealis flares might have lit up the skies, but at the 2024 edition of Pasadena’s Cruel World Fest, one of the most anticipated reunions charged the stage with a haunting glow, with Bauhaus sister band Tones on Tail, playing their first show since their first and only world tour nearly 40 years ago. (Okay, it was 39 years and seven months since the last date on the band’s US leg, but a mere six days shy of the 40th anniversary of their first gig on May 17th, 1984).

With Bauhaus playing the inaugural Cruel World Fest back in 2022 and Love and Rockets playing at the fest in 2023, Tones on Tail completed the hat trick of booking bands featuring Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash and established a growing legacy for the annual Goldenvoice event with it seemingly showcasing g one-night-only and once-in-a-lifetime performances. Cruel-to-the-rest-of-the-World, perhaps?

As the final band on the schedule was set to perform that evening in Pasadena, black-clad crowds rushed across the Brookside golf course over to the Sad Girls stage to witness the official return of Tones on Tail for the first time since 1984. Sure, it’s true that previously, members of the band toured as POPTONE in 2017 and 2018, where they played Tones on Tail songs mixed with some of Ash’s Love & Rockets and Bauhaus songs. But this felt more magical than POPTONE. This honed-down set was razor sharp yet packed solely with Tones on Tail’s avant-garde and experimental post-punk classics…

Save for one, as the set kicked off with the band’s cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” setting the tone for a nostalgic, dreamy, and energetic performance that shimmered through the evening with glittering darkness. Fans were treated to perfect live renditions of the band’s beloved tracks, showcasing why Tones on Tail remains a cult favorite.

The Tones on Tail lineup featured Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, with Haskins’ daughter, Diva Dompe, rounding up the lineup on bass. Diva took the stage with an uncanny suaveness and swagger that now surpasses that of her uncle David J, resembling an even more androgynous incarnation of Mick Karn from Japan. Unfortunately, founding member Glenn Campling could not rejoin the band for the reunion, but he had previously given his bandmates his blessing:

“After a lengthy chat with Danny Ash on Sunday about the pros and cons and possibilities of my involvement at Cruel World Festival, we agreed that there were too many obstacles to overcome and that a substitute with more capable hands than mine was the only realistic option. So, I’ve given my support and blessing to use the name as they’ll only be performing TOT material. I wish them well and maybe meet up at the aftershow for tea and biscuits.”

A highlight of the gig was when both father and daughter, Diva and Kevin of the Haskins / Dompe clan, donned sailor’s hats during the rendition of Go!, but if I could file one complaint about this flawless performance, it would be that Daniel Ash didn’t understand the assignment. Instead of smartly sporting a white suit like he had done back in 84, he wore the most Gothic outfit he could find—threads almost too goth for Bauhaus, if we’re being honest. But that is but a minor quibble put immediately to rest by the bleeding of his sax during a chill-inducing rendition of Movement of Fear and razor-sharp rendition of Performance, a single that to this day features one of the best interplays of marching drums, rhythmic synths, and swerving guitars of all time.

Watch each song from Tones on Tail’s Cruel World 2024 set below:

OK, This Is The Pops came next.

Movement of Fear

Happiness

Lions

Burning Skies

For the first known time, Tones on Tail performed Twist

Performance came next

Then goth club staple Go!

Finally, they closed out their set with There’s Only One

Okay, one more quibble — they did not play Christian Says. Hopefully, Daniel Ash will heed his OWN suggestion: “We should play a few more of these, don’t you think?”

SETLIST:

  1. Heartbreak Hotel
  2. OK This is the Pops
  3. Burning Skies
  4. Happiness
  5. Lions
  6. Movement of Fear
  7. Twist
  8. Performance
  9. Go!
  10. There’s Only One
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
Photo by Vivian Villa
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From the Editor at Post-Punk.com

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