Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Throbbing Gristle Heaven

Pictured below, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge at Heaven, December 23rd 1980. Photo courtesy of Akiko Hada... My thanks to the TG FB group for sharing a link to artist and videographer Akiko Hada’s website showcasing 20 years of music photography – well worth a visit. And with that in mind I’m listening to the Heaven show this afternoon, one of the finest of the late-era concerts. Rough Trade issued the show on cassette as Beyond Jazz Funk, and the title is not as wry as one might expect, with Cosey and her trumpet trying to get away with as much jazz as possible on this particular night. But mostly, the Heaven show is TG at its most rhythmical, and abrasive - perhaps as a consequence of the lo-fi recording which lends Chris Carter’s beats a real crunch. Dossier put the show out on CD in 1993 with sleeve notes by Gen, stating that “…this is essentially the last, unified performance by TG. Internal Tensions and transitions took an irreparable toll shortly hereafter”.

As 1980 rolled over to 1981, the group’s days were numbered, the mission close to termination, and performances were increasingly patchy. The Lyceum show in February sounds particularly listless, and while Heaven lacks the white heat improvisation of earlier TG concerts (the set is similar to San Francisco 6 months later), it makes up for it with sheer energy, the psychic youth responding in kind, with enthusiastic cheers, whistles and calls for the hits – one audience members requests Hamburger Lady throughout, but to no avail. Derek Jarman filmed a portion of the concert for his abstract Super8 short T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven (with some cuts from the Second Annual Report for the soundtrack). Incidentally, a few lines of dialogue from Alan Clarke’s theatrical version of Scum can be heard at one point, I’m guessing it was a favourite of Sleazy’s…

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