Speakers Push Air

April’s Narc Content #1: Live Reviews

Wishful Thinking: A Tribute To Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson: Chris & Cosey / Attila Csihar – Tyneside Cinema, March 17th

This tribute to Sleazy was in part an attempt to hint at what his commissioned AV piece would have been if he hadn’t passed away in 2010.

Bells, Tibetan singing bowls and chimes emanated from the balcony, focussing us, calming us as a precursor to former Mayhem singer Attila Csihar’s performance. Augmenting his phenomenal, apocalyptic voice with overtone (throat) singing and multitracking, he mixed in tracks of ‘silence’ recorded in Durham Cathedral – muffled voices, bells ringing, doors shutting, a distant telephone. Projected images (the beauty of youth, the inevitably of death), more astonishing vocals from Csihar and a spectral figure moving sombrely round the cinema drew the piece to a close. It was the sort of performance you could either mock for its portentous or lose yourself in – I recommend the latter: it was powerful stuff.

Chris & Cosey – so unassuming behind their laptops and effects – performed a handful of live remixes of tracks from the final Throbbing Gristle album, Desertshore (a cover of the Nico album). Initially a rather unremarkable electro chug (albeit with some really pummelling drums), things soon improved with Cosey adding gorgeous vocals, cornet and treated slide guitar, and an amazing recorded contribution from Anthony Hegarty. The short set concluded with an entirely new track, featuring the processed and overlaid voices of Sleazy’s friends and collaborators repeating the phrase “Meet me on the desert shore” to fairly heartbreaking effect.


Killing Joke / The Icarus Line – Newcastle Academy March 13th

The Icarus Line started life as a fairly straightforward west coast punk band and you can’t help thinking that would have gone down better with a largely indifferent but occasionally outright hostile Killing Joke crowd than the Birthday Party / Stooges retreads they offered tonight. Frontman Joe Cardamone worked hard but was never going to win over the Joke faithful who knew exactly what they wanted and were about to get it.

The last time I saw Killing Joke was in the mid-80s and this gig, with the reunited ‘’classic’ line, wasn’t much different. The sound is still impressive verging on bombastic, and Geordie really is one of the very best guitarists of the whole post punk era. It’s hard to keep up with what apocalyptic predictions are possessing Jaz Colman these days but he still comes on like a cross between a maniacal shaman and a panto dame, all puppet moves and grandiose gestures.

To be honest, the first half of the set – mostly new stuff – dragged a little. But once they dug into the archives for Wardance, Psyche and an especially epic Love Like Blood you realized that for all the sturm und drang, Killing Joke can still be an amazing live band.


Future Islands / Warm Digits – Cluny 2, March 8th

I haven’t seen a bill this upside down since The Flaming Lips decimated Teenage Fanclub years ago.

Let’s start with the losers, then. Future Islands came with a whole heap of Pitchfork-based love and I’m at a loss to understand why. Take away an unremarkable bassist and some very predictable electronics (with none of the magic of New Order, a frequent reference point) and you’re left with a pompous buffoon of a singer – equal parts Vic Reeves’ club singer, Russell Crowe and Lee Evans – who’s idea of stage craft is to repeatedly slap himself round the face and prance about like a boxer.  Their success is mystifying.

Thank god, then, for Warm Digits – a revelation to me even if they’re old news to everyone else on Tyneside. On a stage crammed with so much kit it looked like a hacker’s bedroom, the duo faultlessly set about reworking a near- perfect set of influences (motorik Neu grooves, Kraftwerk synths, DFA cowbells, a dash of Tortoise and Errors) into something genuinely warm and new and exciting. They made me grin all over my stupid face for the entirety of their too short, non-stop set and nothing Future Islands did after could take that grin away.


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