At Royal Festival Hall, London, England
19th September 2000 – “Persistence is All” – Royal Festival Hall, London, England
- Higher Beings Command (Instrumental)
- Amethyst Deceivers (Version 1)
- Titan Arch
- Blood from the Air
- I Am the Green Child
- Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil
“Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” phase, named after the then most recent Coil release up to that point and the album the setlist is mostly based around, Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil, released in September 12, 2000 to coincide specifically with this first show. “Lowest Common Abominator,” “Beige,” and “Freebase Chakra,” and “Tunnel of Goats” all became sort of combined into the epic suite “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil,” while “Higher Beings Command” and “I Am the Green Child” were also taken straight off the album. “Something” comes from Musick to Play in the Dark, Vol. 2, released in September 2000, while “Titan Arch” and “Blood from the Air” are revivals of classic Coil songs, off of Love’s Secret Domain, released in 1991, and Horse Rotorvator, released in 1987 respectively. Audiences seemed particularly responsive to “Blood from the Air,” often erupting into applause every time they would play the song. Tom Edwards played on every song except “Something,” “Higher Beings Command,” “Blood from the Air,” and “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.”
Coil discarded the fluffy suits in favor of semi-glow-in-the-dark boiler outfits. The band also painted their heads and faces to make it look they suffered from injuries – possibly in reference to John’s self-harming episodes, one of which inspired the “Trauma Edition” of Musick to Play in the Dark Vol. 2. Part of the choreography involved John darting around the stage during “What Kind of Animal Are You?” slowly tramping around the stage during “I Am the Green Child” and banging his head and hands into a big metal sheet during “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.” Peter often remained stationary at his computer and synths, while Ossian and Thighpaulsandra would sometimes walk around the stage; Ossian often wore a dazed expression on his face, while Thighpaulsandra remained stoic. Most of the gigs also had naked light bulbs as props hanging from the ceiling, which the band members would often bump into as they moved about the stage; sometimes, they would even intentionally bat at them, occasionally breaking them upon impact with one another.
Debut performances of all songs except “Amethyst Deceivers (Version 1)”
In virtually every gig during this phase, “Something” and “Higher Beings” smoothly transition into each other, making them sound like one continuous song. For this particular performance, John only sings the “I know why the bird cage sings” lyric once during “Something,” then does not sing on “Higher Beings Command” at all.
John does not employ his voice modulator during “Amethyst Deceivers” and his vocal delivery resembles the first live version.
The backing track to “Titan Arch” starts and plays for a few measures before John announces the song’s title.
Before “Blood from the Air,” John says, “Thank you. This next track’s, uh, from Horse Rotorvator, which is a piece of stolen property, along with Scatology. We want the stolen property returned by the man who stole it, Stevo Pearce. Until he returns it, it’s cursed.” Stevo Pearce ran Some Bizarre Records, which issued unauthorized reissues of the two albums John mentioned earlier that year. Coil made their own reissues in 2001 with new covers that held the written message “Stevo, pay us what you owe us!”
Before “I Am the Green Child,” John says something which sounds like “You can put our stuff if you want over there.” If that is indeed what he says, perhaps he is referring to the metal sheet the band would use during this phase for the song “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.” He pauses, then continues, “This is strange; I haven’t been, uh, playing live for 17 years, and to suddenly start singing these songs is truly bizarre.” The song starts, and he says, “I am the green child. This should be fun; let’s go.” He says something I can’t make out after the song.
As “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” begins, John says, “This next track is dedicated to, uh, my friend Fritz, who went down and never came back, and it’s dedicated to my friend Russell, who went there, and he came back, and it’s dedicated to my friend David Tibet, who very recently, he went there. ‘Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.’ Are you ready?” Coil dedicated “A Warning from the Sun” off of the Summer Solstice EP to Fritz as well, who committed suicide shortly before the song’s release. David Tibet is the founder of the band Current 93 and was a friend of Coil’s.
Matthew Collings interviewed John, Peter, and Thighpaulsandra for his 2001 documentary series Hello Culture, which took place shortly after this gig (snippets of the PRO video of the gig are shown in the documentary – full segment here, with related section beginning at 7.52min).
Balance said of the show, “Thanks to everyone who turned up for the Royal festival hall concert. A few facts. David Sefton and Liz McCudden asked us back after Time Machines as they liked us so much. Atari Teenage Riot were supposed to be on the same bill which I would have love but they couldn’t commit. It was great to see Jim Thirwell as I hadn’t seen him for 15 or so years.He is a very wonderful and intelligent man who has been extremely influential for many bands.As for all the comments about Foetus as boring rock. I caught a few moments of him doing panther like movements as I was out front in the foyer.Rock is Dead. period. For me and what my hearing brain accepts via my thinking ear anyway.even Marilyn Mansons flirtation with this concept makes it even more laughably dead. I felt more akin to LaMonte Young than to anything else. Our line-up was Tom Edwards on Marimba, a 21 year old 6ft 3″ classical percussionist who is also works with Spiritualised, Thighpaulsandra, Sleazy, Mice-Elph and Simon Herne aka Norris. Peter and I designed the video piece especially for the Persistence Is All concert. I designed the stage set and lighting and it was realised by Paddy Farr who is a genius. Tim Sunderland did the sound.Hes worked with Spiritualised and Hawkwind in the past as has Paddy.Gavin Wall was our roadie….COIL have a roadie.He often works for Julian Cope.I designed the costumes along with the fabulous and very hard working David Cabaret. I think all the items from the concert ie the 2 new T-shirts and the CD and two different button badges/ decals and stuff are available from World Serpent up until Christmas. We MAY be playing in Berlin as ELpH in late December. The whole RFH concert was an invocation to Pan. IO PAN!!!!!!!!!!” The eLpH concert never came to be, unfortunately.
Pete Greening attended this gig and remembers: “One of the times i saw Coil live at the Royal Festival Hall i had gone with a friend. We partook of our favourite poison beforehand and being slightly befuddled we went to the Queen Elizabeth Hall instead (only next door, in case you’re not familiar with London’s South Bank). We showed our tickets to an usher and asked where the seats were – they indicated up a level and through a particular door. When we got to that door we checked with another usher who showed us where our seats were but there were already people sitting in them – after asking them to move, the usher suddenly realised our tickets were for the RFH – we dashed out, went to the right venue and took our rightful seats just as Coil came on with this track… phew.”
The following is a review of the concert published on Compulsion Online:
Coil and Foetus
Royal Festival Hall, London
As incense smoke wafted over the crowd from a pot centre stage, Coil, to the taped strains of ‘Something’, took to the Royal Festival Hall stage for the second time this year. In complete contrast to their earlier performance as Time Machines where they transformed the huge auditorium into a giant pulsating and throbbing mass. “Persistence Is All“, the name given to this performance, was no less awe-inspiring but was more concerned with displaying Coil in a more song-based format. It was conversely more musickal but perhaps more extreme.
Coil consisted of the nucleus of John Balance, Peter Christopherson, new recruits Thighpaulsandra and Simon Norris together with a mysterious marimba player who stood set apart from the others. Dressed in black, he remained in the wings distant from the others. With their shaven heads, bruised make-up, and white boiler suits they looked like apocalyptic rent boys; refugees fashioned by Vivienne Westwood. Hung from the ceilings and draped across the stage were seven light bulbs which Balance and others would regularly toy with. At the rear of stage a neon red sign proclaimed Persistence Is All. Also on the ceiling, and directly above a sheet of metal, was a huge screen where visuals, including Elph symbols, and sleeve designs, appeared warped and transformed – often into mandala like shapes. Phrases were projected at the audience, in almost subliminal fashion. Balance, on the night, appeared almost reticent, staying close to the huddle of musicians centre stage, rarely straying to the stage flanks, and, if so, only to spin the light bulbs. The stage set, itself, seemed less cluttered and more intimate in design than their Time Machines show. With the stage cast in fluctuating shades of red, green, blue, and clear light, the electronics blasted as Balance, poised in front of his music stand, sung ‘Amethyst Deceivers’, from the Equinox series of CDs. A demonic elemental painting by Austin Osman Spare followed by the words “Zos Kia Cultus” appeared on the screen as they launched into ‘Titan Arch’ to which Thighpaulsandra managed to add some guitar based feedback. I’ve no idea if Marc Almond was in attendance but it was especially exciting to hear Balance sing this song. It’s funny, he commented later, to be singing some songs that are as old as 17 years.
Stevo from Coil’s former record label, Some Bizarre, was criticised (and cursed) by Balance for ‘stealing’ both Scatology and Horse Rotorvator before Coil launched into ‘Blood From the Air’. I can’t imagine there have been many occasions when the Festival Hall staff have been subjected to the accusations of God is a Sadist echoing round the vast expanse of the hall. It appeared the hex was still good as right on cue one of the lightbulbs exploded.
New tracks appeared with one being dedicated to friends (like David Tibet) who had either crossed over and came back, hadn’t come back or nearly went.
This was a show to be treasured which just got more intense as they seeped into tracks taken from their specially recorded CD, Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil. Smoke billowed from behind the stage set as the flash of the strobes began to flicker. At first, as the sounds built up, the flickers were random and intermittent. Then as the visuals started flashing, the strobes got rhythmic. And then it got intense and disorientating. This was Coil at their most visceral, most aggressive and most brutal. Balance crouched on the floor, while the other musicians arched over their keyboards. If they’re hadn’t have been seats maintaining one’s balance may have proved difficult for the audience. The sounds got more ferocious, the strobes now in rotation across the stage flickered faster, and the decibel level increased to an ear-splitting volume. And then it got more intense and more disorientating. “Colour Sound Oblivion”, “God Please Fuck My Mind For Good” flashed from the screen in quick succession. It was relentless.
And then it was over. The crowd was left reeling and completely disoriented. With the bombardment of sound and light it was as if the auditorium had been transformed into one huge Dream Machine. The five members bowed to rapturous applause leaving the Festival Hall crowd enthralled once again.
If it seemed everyone was here for Coil, its fair to say that the Festival Hall was even more rammed for Foetus. It was obvious from the moment Jim Thirlwell aka Foetus swaggered onto the stage that he is still in his anti-rock God persona. With his shock of orange hair, his skinny frame, psychedelic shirt and tight seventies slacks hiding his cowboy boots Jim Thirlwell is, as he once described himself, a white nigger. He’s a New York honky straight out of a seventies movie. But, oh boy, he rocked. And shook that pelvis. With his empty posturing, tonight this was dumb-ass rock’n’roll. And Foetus delivered the hits – ‘Throne of Agony’, ‘Take It Outside Godboy’, ‘Mighty Whitey’, ‘Clothes Hoist’, ‘Butterfly Potion’ – touching base with most of the Jim Thirlwell archive. He even gave a rare airing of the apt ‘English Faggot’ from Thaw. With a band, drawn from the likes of Cop Shoot Cop, Family of God, Swans and Morning Glories, dressed all in black they look like hired hands. The backbone of taut bass, powerhouse drumming and riffing guitars occasionally gets caught up in some sub-NIN industrial rock. If only they’d ditch this rock as parody thing and deliver some keyboard stuff, some orchestral washes, some Steroid Maximus, something more jazzy – everything that makes a Foetus record compelling. Let’s hear some of the other shades of Foetus and not just the noir rock. Still you can’t help smiling, when for an encore Jim Thirlwell appears in an Elvis styled gold lamé suit with the finest pair of platform boots to grace the Festival Hall stage since Julian Cope. Viva Foetus.
The following is a review of the concert published on Freq.org.uk:
Coil/Nectarine No.9/Foetus (live)
Royal Festival Hall
South Bank Centre, London
19th September 2000
For their third live performance in a year after the seventeen of build-up, Coil arrive onstage dressed in unlaced grey strait-jackets, backed by a neon sign proclaimng the title of the night’s performance, Persistance Is All. The multiple possible meanings of this slogan soon becomes apparent, as the playback of Jhon Balance‘s spoken title beat which opens “Something” fills the “Royal” Festival Hall. The group are backed by a circling corona of fire on the projection screen which soon becomes the visual focus for the set, and this develops into a hypnagogic kaleidoscope show of the first water, trickling retinal patterns like the strongest hallucinogen to the trip-kicking music. Not that drugs are necessary; it’s far more a state of mind on offer through the combination of light and sonic textures – or Colour, Sound, Oblivion as the flashed-up message proclaims (as does the black-on-black T-shirt, the badge, etc. etc.).
Colour plays a key part in the whole; red for the demonic gyres made from swarms of seething computer imagery; green for the new track “I Am The Green Child”, when the previously monochrome op-art patterns become colourfully-edged all of a sudden, as the peak of the trip is implied – or impelled. Blue for the chill of “Amethyst Decivers”, and light and oblivion are to follow. Watching the members of Coil onstage is a once again a peculiar combination of technicians at work and hierophants enacting a ritual – which is not so far from how the best musical perfomances of any stripe should be at all. Least occupied when not singing and/or invoking is Balance, who wanders the stage, swinging the large lightbulbs dangling low from the roof in small circles, crouching below one as it describes a short arc for a time. Two bulbs break in flashes of lightning, and later one swings perilously close to the metal frames of the instruments. Balance performs some kind of calisthenics, takes a turn around the space between the sharly-angled racks of electronics, twirls the strap of the strait-jacket around his head. Peter Christopherson, Simon Norris and Thighpaulsandra perform their alloted tasks with more attantion to their boxes and keys, occasionally gathering to stand shoulder to shoulder admiring their projections when the music can safely look after itself for a while.
Unlike their presentation of Time Machines earlier in the year, tonight’s show brings forth songs from their far back catalogue – “Titan Arch”, enlivened by the excoriating guitar feedback ride Thighpaulsandra evokes, and “Blood From The Air”, one of Coil’s strongest pieces, a searing slow lament on the immanence of death in the world and the sickness of God. Higher beings might command, as another message goes, but Coil may not be obeying. All through the middle section, the group are joined onstage by a xylophonist of great skill, who helps bring these unexpected songs to rattling life, and Balance expresses his surprise to be singing them live after so long. He also takes time to drop a passing curse on Stevo for continuing unhelpfulness in regard to the Coil albums he still controls the rights to.
And the finale, introduced as “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” – Coil are having a lot of fun with this Situationist-Occultist opportunity to broadcast billboard-sized thoughts to a crowd, even if they be the readily-persuadable; one of the few traits they share with Psychic TV these days, apart from some of the most effectively mindbending light shows around – and brings things off in a welter of dial-stretching analogue synthesis, urgent rhythms (some crashed out on a sheet of metal suspended behind the electronic setup), and strobes. And more strobes. Plus more, repeated, phased until the room is virtually alight, drenched in brightness and unholy righteous noise. How to take the roof of the hall through thunderous bass tones and distending harsh white light. And their slogan for the end? “God Please Fuck My Mind For Good”. This is the kind of psychedelic dualism Coil unleash through this most enlivening of musics – the sublime and the horrific encased in an onrushing suspension of time through sound. Dramatic and effective, and far fucking IN.
-Antron S. Meister-
John Balance – harmonizer on “I Am the Green Child,” metal sheet percussion on “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil”.
Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson – synths, backing vocals on “Blood from the Air”.
Simon Norris (Ossian Brown).
Tom Edwards – marimba.
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Royal Festival Hall
London SE1 8XX
Clips of the live gig are shown in this 2001 documentary, “Hello Culture”
AMT #1 – Davide Gostoli
AMT #2 – Patrick Farr