London WC2 Astoria

Twenty years of scrap metal.

Twenty years of scrap metal. Twenty years of oil-drum experimentation. Twenty years of dissecting the human worm. Their reputation as The Industrial Lathes Of The Apocalypse might precede them, but tonight, Einst|rzende Neubauten are in celebratory anniversary mood. There are even jokes – although naturally they concern Isaac Newton, architecture and nuclear explosions.

“Now you must call for songs that are 20 years old,” instructs Blixa Bargeld, with lofty Germanic charm, “So I can go…” He smiles, holds the nozzle of some crazy suction machine up to the microphone, unleashes a noise like a wolverine in a wind tunnel. Thing is, that’s exactly what we wanted to hear.

In a world where people treat music like it’s a small town that welcomes careful drivers, tonight’s show is a testimony to the pleasures of chance, invention, sheer avant-garde lunacy. If they’re looking good on it – the black-suited Blixa could join Suede if they replaced Neil Codling with some sheet metal – they’re sounding even better.

They emerge among the jagged hardware to open with ‘Silence Is Sexy’, basement cabaret replete with hilariously epic pauses and Blixa archness, gradually moving from the splendid rhythmic doom of ‘Die Interimsliebenden’ and ‘Der Schacht Von Babel’ into the white-light thrills and drills of ‘Headcleaner’.

Old dogs, old tricks – but still there’s a thousand magic lessons in those moves. Many happy returns.