by David Powers
Lestat has everything a serious band needs: Real instruments; tight, well-rehearsed songs; and a frontman not afraid to take the spotlight. One of the most unique bands that has ever come out of Cleveland, Lestat has a sound like none other, forged on the unlikely streets of Parma in the late '80s and tested in the early '90s Goth playground that was the Phantasy in Lakewood. They earned attention, but never acclaim, and a lack of will or the incursion of real life put a stake through the band’s heart. But like the vampire they named themselves after, Lestat came back to life, resurrected in April of this year with their fourth studio album, Arisen. On Saturday at Peabody's the band capped off a busy year that included headlining at the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club Coven’s Ball over Halloween in New Orleans and completing a tour down the west coast before that.
Playing for a little over an hour, Lestat brought to life old favorites like “Endparty” and soon-to-be staples like “Sent From Hell” and “Little Girl Lost.” They even threw in a stunning Siouxsie and the Banshees cover with
“Red Light.” All the studio trickery of drum machines and B-movie loops was laid bare, and the five-piece band took the stage with only the slimmest reliance on electronic chicanery. Relative newcomers War (bass) and Scott (drums) held down the show with a relentless rhythm section that added a depth and dimension to the songs that illustrated the visceral need for live music. Scott beat the drums with feeling, evading the flatness of drum machines by pounding emotion from the skins like cannon fire on a foggy night. The requisite swells and swirls that make the band so memorable were artfully crafted live by Timothy (keyboards) and Susan (guitar), who stared blankly as if mesmerized by her own delicate twinings along the strings. Meanwhile, emerging from the fog-enshrouded depths, Evan Nave (vocals) was a perfect—if thankfully understated—Gothic frontman, growling at the crowd in his signature melodic monotone as he twirled with the eddies of fog.
This could all have gone very wrong. There could have been too much makeup, too many loops on computers, or the kind of amateur antics that often plague bands who have yet to break, but Lestat avoided it all and presented themselves as seasoned veterans who have their shit together. It’s not often that Cleveland gets a real stage show like that, not on this scale. Peabody’s is an intimate setting, perhaps better suited to loud guitars and angry vocals that can easily cover up mistakes, but Lestat didn’t need the cover. They played as if it were a crowd of thousands, and those lucky enough to attend may not even be fully aware of what they experienced. Let’s hope time is better to them now, and the vampire can feed and strengthen, because this felt like one of those shows people will remember—or wish they’d been at—later, as the otherwise quiet end to the year the vampire came back.