Friday, 8 March 2019

Throbbing Gristle - Scala Cinema, London 29th February 1980

Red hot funksters Throbbing Gristle at the Scala Cinema, from left to right, Chris Carter (just visible at the edge of the frame), Cosey Fanni Tutti, Genesis P-Orridge, and sitting behind him, Sleazy... 

The Scala Cinema was the subject of Monday's post, and this afternoon, I've been revisiting Industrial Records' leap day all-nighter at the Scala's old home at 25 Tottenham Street on February 29th 1980. Accompanying TG on the night were Monte Cazazza, and Sweden's Leather Nun, and between sets there were screenings of the films of Kenneth Anger, Antony Balch/William Burroughs and Austrian experimental film maker Kurt Kren. Looking at the official event program it looks like Towers Open Fire was a last minute substitution, perhaps for After Cease To Exist which was conspicuously absent on the night.

February had been a busy month for the group. On the 16th, a small cadre of friends and associates were invited to Industrial Records studio to hear the group perform a new set which adapted and mutated sounds and rhythms heard on the 20 Jazz Funk Greats album. Just over a week later, TG took the freshly minted Heathen Earth session on the road (so to speak) with the first public unveiling at The Fan Club in Leeds. The same set was essentially replicated just five days later at the Scala, but where the Fan Club show can sound tentative and unfocused, the Scala performance in comparison is far more cohesive and refined. Heathen Earth's spoken-word experiment which sounded so inert at the Leeds show was wisely dropped for Scala, and there's a greater emphasis on mood and atmosphere. Another highlight of the show are Chris' rhythm tracks, in particular the robot beat that propels an extraordinary, hypnotic and dubby rendition of Don't Do What You're Told, Do What You Think.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night was when TG's negative ion generation malfunctioned during their set, unleashing a huge flash of lightning to stunned fans in the front-row, and scrubbing 4mins of the recording with a blizzard of impenetrable static. As was their preference, TG performed first on the night, and in between films and bathroom breaks, Monte Cazazza delivered an abrasive set of violent, squally electronics, while The Leather Nun laid down some primitive garage punk for bleary eyed punters.

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