Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Throbbing Gristle, Tramway, Glasgow, Wednesday 17th June 2009

When a band waits 30 years before playing their first ever Scottish show, they run the risk that they're time will have already passed and that the Scots will have forgotten them. Thankfully, there's no such worry for undeniably ageing industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle, as the buzzing crowds filling the cavernous converted space of Glasgow's Tramway venue prove that the band's pulling power has only increased over the years that they've ascended to iconic counter-cultural heights.
Beginning with an improvised instrumental soundtrack to a grainy black and white film by artist Cerith Wyn Evans, Throbbing Gristle's first set is a darkly ambient accompaniment of slowly pulsing heartbeat bass thud and tortured electronics, sadly let down by the band's seeming disinterest in proceedings and the overblown obliqueness of Evans' creeping images.
When, after a short DJ break, Throbbing Gristle return to the stage for a celebratory greatest hits set, the die-hards' years of waiting are finally proved worth it. With the stage swathed in light and the crowd craning over Genesis P-Orridge's every move, Throbbing Gristle power through a rapturously received set of classics and hits, obviously enjoying highlights such as the aggressive stomp of 'Discipline' or 'Persuasion's eerie dirge, while 'Almost A Kiss' avoids mawkishness to become heartbreakingly poignant.
While they've lost none of their individualism, and can still tap into their original punk power, when Throbbing Gristle bow out, sans encore even after all this time, it is their emotional honesty and intensity, and, in particular, Genesis' amazing connection with the fans and audience that sticks most searingly in the mind. Here's hoping that the wait is never quite so long again.

Photos of this gig available here.

Throbbing Gristle

Hermann Nitsch, Instal 2009, Glasgow University Chapel, Friday 20th March 2009

Long sustained tones, blocks of wood across the keys, tones and overtones, elegiac, long, slow, gradual, a bass note and overtones that sound then fade, add, subtract, harmonies, disharmonies, discordant notes, slow waves, foghorns sounding on a misty sea, the imagined sounds of space, the cosmic drone, layers build, rise and fall, reverberating, hearing pulses, nothing pure, sound of radiation, "if the stars had a sound it would sound like this", fades to a single beautiful mournful note then just as the bells chime quarter to (eleven) in the distance a low basso profundo solid tone with higher layers on top, like the air slowly reverberating, the background hum of the universe.

Photos of Instal 2009 and this performance available here.

Hermann Nitsch

Instal 2009

Rolo Tomassi, Captains Rest, Glasgow, Wednesday 22nd April 2009

With a last-minute downscale to the tiny basement of the Captains Rest attributable just as much to the presence in town of fellow Sheffield mathrock youngsters 65daysofstatic splitting the crowds as to Rolo Tomassi's arguably over-frequent visits to Glasgow wearing their pulling power thin, confusion and chaos were rearing their heads before the gig even began tonight. Perhaps befitting the added sweaty intimacy afforded by the last-minute change of venue, Rolo Tomassi largely jettison their more proggy aspects this time round in favour of a frenetic show of youthful hardcore exuberance. From the moment they make it on stage, Rolo Tomassi race, with barely a pause, through a breakneck set, all flailing limbs and ungodly screams, their mathy technicalities distilled into ferocious synth-driven spazzcore blasts (political correctness be damned!). With the band's slightly unhinged energy just about matched by that of the party-hungry crowd, it's not long before the P.A. begins to topple, shirts are removed and circle pits, stage-diving and crowd-surfing ensue, on a night that proves just how essential and exciting live music will always be.

Photos of this gig available here.

Rolo Tomassi