“A Manifestation of the Will”
04th August 1983 – “A Manifestation of the Will” – Club Magenta – Ritzy Cinema, London, England
- Silence and Secrecy
Only performances of all songs.
John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson’s first live show as Coil. Peter had been playing live as early as 1976 with Throbbing Gristle, which he formed with fellow industrial pioneers Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, and Chris Carter. After TG’s dissolution in 1981, Peter and Genesis formed Psychic TV, which John joined soon after. John and Peter became increasingly disenfranchised with Genesis and his pushing of Thee Temple Ov Psychic Youth, which they left after a year or two. John had been recording his own demos under the former names of The Merderwreckers and Stabmental and releasing them on compilations since 1979 before adopting the Coil name in 1982. Coil became his official and dominant musical channel once Peter joined.
In an interview conducted by Peter, transcribed in the CD booklet to the Zos Kia / Coil split release Transparent, John Balance states that this gig took place at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. Either this claim is erroneous or there’s another gig unaccounted for in the gigography. He remembers: “The whole point wasn’t really to do a gig at all, but just to present atmospheric tension. Before that I burnt frank-incense, so there was a strong smell of that in the air, and we had two strobes going out of phase with each other, which made it really difficult to walk up onto the stage to play anything, because the whole room seemed to be tilting backwards and forwards…Through some strange quirk, Nick Cave was there again. I think Jim Thirlwell had brought him along, because Jim was involved with Coil at that point, recording and stuff. Derek Jarman was there, too, showing some Super 8 films. I remember he loved the frankincense.” According to official Coil documents, Coil did not collaborate with Zos Kia (John Gosling and Min) for this gig.
As heard on tape, the entire gig seems to be one long continuous take of music, with no applause or introductions in between. According to Jon Whitney, there is merely one full recording of the show, however I have found two distinct versions of said recording. AUD #1a is one track, while AUD #1b has four. The latter claims “Silence and Secrecy” ends after 13 minutes and leads into “Baptism of Fire,” while the other two tracks are untitled. The latter recording might just be a better quality version of the former. Based on what John said, one might assume that Jim Thirlwell made the recording.
From Phil Barrington’s essay On Balance: Tracing the History of the First Ever COIL Recordings: “The gig was an extended live art-music concept of “an exercise in extended tension” at a themed art event night called “Club Magenta” within the versatile Ritzy Cinema venue in Brixton London. Derek Jarman and most of the Camden Equinox Event performers also supplied films or gave performances for this event’s programme. Given the fact that Sleazy was fresh from his holophonic experiments at the time (which shaped the overall sound production of PTV’s ‘Dreams Less Sweet’ album by Spring 1983) the combination of the constant and increasingly oppressive amplified sounds of cicadas from ‘Silence and Secrecy’ filling and flowing around the large red room, the erratic strobe lighting, the screeching violin and the heady fog of Frankincense all promised both a troubling and memorable evening for the assembled audience – an evening that carried on, and on, late into the night (indeed, COIL’s master tape of the concert has handwriting on it stating “Actually 1am 5th”). Well, it may have been planned by Geoff and Peter to have been a troubling and memorable evening for the audience but, truth be told, the audience gave no reaction at all on the night. The band were basically looking out towards line upon line of blank, all-knowing art crowd faces in that cinema hall during their performance and, indeed, post-performance. Geoff despaired (again to Grok) at this lack of reaction and total absence of feedback at the important debut gig for his band: When we played at Brixton and the Air Gallery there was no challenge and I ended up very depressed as, for the most part we seemed to be doing it for a jaded, apathetic crowd of art groupies. That’s how it seemed. The whole thing was so incestuous and every move you made, everything you did or said was noted and compared to something previous. I feel Coil can move out of that area and I want it to.”
1983-06-21 Equinox Event – Camden, London, UK
Technically, this was not Coil’s first “official” live performance. Phil Barrington explains in his essay On Balance: Tracing the History of the First Ever COIL Recordings:
“…COIL’s very first planned live performance was cancelled by the organisers, the event itself becoming an important milestone gig for Current 93 instead. COIL were due to perform their debut set at the 21st June 1983 Equinox Event in Camden London (the very first mention of COIL on any publicity material being on this event poster). The organiser’s removal of COIL from the evening’s programme in the days leading up to the show provoked Geoff’s anger for many months to come afterwards – indeed, five months after the band was booted off the event, Geoff remarked to Grok magazine: Coil were due to play at the summer ‘Equinox Event’, at the London Musicians Collective [aka the Kensington Market Musicians Co-op] but [co-organiser and performer with Operation Muzak] Mary 7 Dowd fucked us around and blatantly lied and misled us over several things. This was due to be Jim Thirlwell and I doing something together.
Obviously livid at the rejection, Geoff still adamantly turned up at the Camden venue on the night and, according to Sean Dower (from Death Magazine 52 – the last band of the evening), did a nonmusical performance “on the steel staircase outside the venue”. I caught up with Sean recently and he kindly expanded upon his memories of Geoff’s performance outside the venue for this essay: There was a lot of activity and intrigue going on just outside the venue on these stairs, not least because things were quite fractious and chaotic inside. I have a picture in my mind of Jhonn crouching down doing something with a box/case on these stairs, though that could be a constructed memory! I had a conversation with Jhonn on the matter in question (around 2002) when we met at a friend’s wedding. This meeting was remarkable in many respects, but the short of it was that we discussed the Equinox Event that we were both involved with and he said that this was the first official performance/manifestation of COIL. That was how Jhonn described it, though I’m not sure if the performance was concrete or more symbolic.”
After some deliberation, LCA has opted not to give this “performance” its own listing on our website, but we document it here for historical and informational purposes.
John Balance – violin
Peter Christopherson – sound mixing
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Brixton SW2 1JG
AUD – Jim Thirwell (?)