Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Throbbing Gristle - Nag's Head, High Wycombe, 11th February, 1977

Listening to Throbbing Gristle's concert at the Nag's Head, High Wycombe, 40 years ago this month...

1977 was Jubilee year for the United Kingdom so it's fitting that Throbbing Gristle's first concert of '77 opened with a little throwaway number for Her Majesty, ("Prince Phillip licked her cunt"). TG's show at the Nag's Head is noteworthy for being the group's first show outside of an art happening, the venue was a dyed in the wool rock club which had recently embraced punk, and between TG's noisy experimentation and the Nag's Head faithful (who gobbed and pogoed to the Sex Pistols and the Clash a few months earlier), the battle lines were well and truly drawn. TG's set remained largely the same as their previous concert but the focus and cohesion the group had at the ICA was replaced by disorder and frustration. According to one eye-witness at the show, TG were plagued with technical problems and glitches from the outset, the group were 20mins late going on which was enough to invoke the wrath of the crowd, their hostility was matched by 53mins of ugly, serrated soundscapes and the occasional provocation by Genesis P-Orridge, ("If you think you're escaping you are just stupid cock-sucking cunts anyway").

Still, there are some highlights – a wayward rendition of  Very Friendly with a fantastic spacey violin coda, a long instrumental passage of harsh electronics and a montage of sampled news reports (including an item about the execution of Gary Gilmour, a particular obsession of P-Orridge's at the time). Following an eerie take on Slug Bait, the mood of the show becomes increasingly combative, with P-Orridge ad-libbing some nonsense much to the annoyance of the crowd, while the group struggled with unruly equipment. When the band get going again, the punks' demands for some two-chord thrash is met with a particularly aggressive version of Zyklon B Zombie which climaxes with an audience member joining in the vocal. "I'll never have them back here," Nag's Head landlord Mick Fitzgibbon told one local newspaper.

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