2001 – Le Lieu Unique

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At Oblique LU Nights Festival – Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France

25th March 2001 – “Oblique LU Nights Festival” – Le Lieu Unique, France

Set List

  1. Something
  2. Higher Beings Command
  3. Amethyst Deceivers (Version 1)
  4. Titan Arch
  5. Blood from the Air
  6. I Am the Green Child
  7. Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil

Background

Feeling: Glowing

In March 2001, Coil announced this show and the next three. Said John, “These dates will be followed by art & sound installations and performances at the Whitechapel Gallery in London [to take place June 19-23] at the Summer Solstice, and hopefully a North American tour later in 2001.” These performances were cancelled, unfortunately, in May 2001.

“Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” phase. Final live performance of “Titan Arch”.

Current 93 also performed. Some sources mislabel this gig as taking place on May 25, but the correct date is March 25.

John thanks the audience after “Something.”

Again, John does not utilize any vocalizer on “Amethyst Deceivers.” This is one of the few shows where the marimba is quite prominent in the mix.

As “Titan Arch” begins, John says, “‘Titan Arch’ from Love’s Secret Domain.” He frequently sings the lyrics “What kind of animal are you?” on this version and at the end claims, “I’m a dog.”

John says, “This is ‘Blood from the Air,’ from I think, uh, Horse Rotorvator. So long ago, I can hardly remember. It’s about a man buried in the ice who wakes up and becomes a murderer.” After the song I am pretty sure an audience member screams “Fuck you!”

Before and as “I Am the Green Child” begins, John says, “For this song, I am going to become the Green Child. It’s the son of the green man, and I’m gonna need a harmonizer on this. So I become a different personality and I can explore differ areas of my vocal sound.” Once his voice changes, I can’t quite make out what he says from there. After the song ends, an audience members shouts, “Residence!” to which John chuckles and replies, “Low residence, yes.”

Before and as “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” begins, John says, “Now, I’ve been asked to announce that the next song is going to have intense strobe-lighting effects, and if you are of a [sic] epileptic disposition or nervous disposition you may perhaps want to, uh, cover your eyes, or cover your friend’s eyes, or bury your head in the sand, or, or, or whatever you wanna do, but I’m warning you. I’ve been asked to warn you. I wouldn’t have warned you myself; I would’ve just sprung it on you.” I believe it’s during this song that John wrestles Thighpaulsandra and playfully pulls him to the ground. After the song, John repeats the song’s title twice and then finishes with “Thank you very much.”

Attendee Recollections

Bruno Henlé attended this show. The following is his testimony regarding a 2-hour radio interview special on Coil:

Hi !

As several people have been asking precisions about it, and since I was finally able to download it and closely listen to it, here are a few more infos about the 2 hours from the french radio Canal B.

First, I’d like to mention this is a local radio station that focusses on many genres of music that are not heard on most radios. It broadcasts around the city of Rennes (in Bretagne, on 94.00 MHz), which I am glad to mention as it is where I was living before, and for years it has been the only radio station I was willing to listen to.

Now for the date/content :
The interview was conducted during the Oblique LU Nights festival in Nantes from last March, where Coil were playing (this is mentionned at the beginning of the radioshow). As I guess, they did it on saturday the 24th in the afternoon, because at the festival I walked by Coil while they were being led to a sort of press conference (in which unfortunately I didn’t manage to follow them). That’s why you hear various people asking the questions, as there were people from various french magazines, and guys from the Canal B radio. I think it was also the base for the article in the D-Side magazine.

I can’t say when it was broadcasted, but the name of the radio show is “L’asile le plus sûr”, which happens on wednesday nights. But this was a special one, only dedicated to Coil, where other people/DJs from the station joined the usual guys for that show.

As for the last two tracks, not much excitement there…
The first one is a bricolage of sorts by one of the DJs of that radioshow. As he explains, the tradition in his show is to finish with a weird silly song. As it was too hard to chose such one in the Coil discography, and there were many parts he had had to cut from the interview (many silences, lots of extra sounds coming from the huge hall they were in to conduct the interview, like doors shutting, sounds of bar glasses…), he took all those cut sounds to make a track from them, à la musique concrète.
The second one (the very last one), is announced like being a John Zorn track,
although they didn’t give its name. It seems to be the usual closing music for their show.

Here we go, hope it helps. Now be aware that all the english parts don’t flow all together, as the question was often cut before we can hear Jhon Balance answer it, the french parts often announcing them before. Or when the question remains, it is often almost unhearable for some distortion which I suppose is due to compression.

If you need further help about all of that, I’ll be glad to. I’d like to thank whoever cared to post all this timing table for the different parts, it helped for nicely splicing the whole thing in precise tracks.

Now a bit of self-indulgence : this Nantes show I had attended, and reviewd on
my website at <http://nodapoc.free.fr/coil>

Good night to you all.

Gig Review(s)

That link mentioned above has since gone under, but you can still find his review here:

DENSELY COILED LAYERS OF ILLUSION
– a COIL concert review –

On march, the 25th of 2001, at 7.15 pm began the most powerful show I ever attended. Coil was playing at the Lieu Unique in Nantes, France. About 600 persons had gathered in a very special place. Le Lieu Unique (LU, meaning Unique Place) opened two years ago, to replace the famous “LU” biscuits factory. The whole building has kept a particular flavour with its old metallic structures on very high ceilings, and a unique blend of industrial and wooden modern feeling. The different halls feel both cozy and impressive at the same time, with a bar, a library, and surprising exhibitions. It was a three days music festival, with 15 bands or artists playing from the early afternoon to late night. After a very pleasant Saturday (where I was lucky enough to walk right next to John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson who were about to give a press conference I wasn’t allowed to attend), my friends and I arrived right on time on Sunday afternoon to see Anne Laplantine’s spontaneous, refreshing and delighting play.
We remained sat right in the middle of the room under the mixing board for the following performance of Charles Hayward. This incredible drummer surprised everyone when he fell onto stage in a big clash and slowly started creeping towards his drums. I had never heard this Coil and Bill Laswell collaborator, but his impressive and very personal drumming on backing tapes will remain in all memories.

We were sorry when we were asked to move out of the room while they were preparing it for Coil, so I remained right at the entrance and waited the little 30 minutes needed. More and more people were slowly approaching behind, making it impossible to come as close to the entrance as where I was standing. In the meantime two guys put a Coil card on every seat, bearing the inscription PAY YOUR RESPECTS TO THE VULTURES, FOR THEY ARE YOUR FUTURE, as well as the drawing of a vulture.

On stage, technicians were setting up the gear, and dispensing a row of lights, each one hanging from a long rope coming from the ceilings. A big screen was floating high on the wall behind the stage. Someone brought a white chalice and lit the incense inside it. It smelled like the kind used in churches, and it slowly started filling the concert hall.

There was a second of rush when we were allowed to enter but people remained cool and the room was quickly but quietly filled. I had the enormous luck to get the same seat as before, right in the center at equal distance from the speakers, one row beneath the mixing desk. Most of my friends could sit with me as well, which was adding to the excitement. The silence that was floating above the crowd was impressive, most people waiting without speaking, giving an impression of a religious gathering : we were sitting in the dark and the line of lights had been put to their minimum. The incense was smelling good. John told me that they burned two mixed together, for PAN and the MOON.

Right at the time announced, the four members of Coil entered the stage, all dressed in the same minimal clothes. Big applauses and greetings welcomed them. John Balance said ” bonjour “, and immediately the mantra from Music To Play In The Dark 2 started : something… something… something…. something…

John Balance was on vocals, Thighpaulsandra on synthesizers, Peter Sleazy Christopherson manipulations, and Ossian Sex/Shop keyboards. They had two Fenix modular systems made by experts in Amsterdam (Coil has three of them but left one at home, and normally have about a third more gear with them), an EMS vintage Synthi A analogue synth, and a digital Kurzweil keyboard with all sounds programmed during the day of the concert (fresh each time they play).

The song title Higher Beings Command appeared on the screen, followed by abstract grey designs. Each light was given specific impulsions by John, Thighpaulsandra or Ossian Sex/Shop so that they were all moving and dancing. The lights in line were smoothly lit one after the other, making a tranquil visual rhythm. The tension that had filled me while waiting to see this mythical group then quickly faded away and I was plunged into the music and visuals. I didn’t know the following songs, which reminded me of their earlier works. The third song was Amethyst Deceivers (from Automn Equinox I think). When John announced one from Love’s Secret Domain (the song was Titan Arch), a thrill passed through the fans, some murmuring their approval, and one even cooing nicely ! It was funny when John announced the following one (Blood From the Air), saying he thought it was from Horse Rotorvator but wasn’t sure about it… I Am The Green Child was also an impressive song, John telling before he started that he was going to put on another personality. Indeed, his voice was strongly altered towards lower tunes, for him to become the Green Child.

An interesting point was earlier in the show, when he asked us : “What kind of animal are you ?”. This made a strong impression on me, and I still haven’t figured out. Anyway, John told us at the end of the song that he was personally a dog!
The videos were very interesting, perfectly matching the music all along. Even if the group members were disappointed with the quality of it, due to the lack of a professional beta machine at the venue, the graphics evolved in very interesting paths. I think it was during Higher Beings Command that we were shown photos of a sloth, which were very cute and funny, this monkey bearing many human features.

Surprisingly enough, another musician joined them to play percussions and marimba. This was Tom Edwards, who will also be touring in Europe with Coil later this year. It was strange that he wasn’t wearing the same clothes as the others, but just ordinary ones and sportswear shoes, so it seemed he wasn’t a real member of the band. He eclipsed out of stage when he wasn’t playing. Anyway this classical musician added very good percussions to the music.

All the time, John Balance, Thighpaulsandra or Ossian Sex/Shop were coming to the row of lights to make them go on dancing. Thighpaulsandra regularly came to the chalice between songs to light the incense again, and finally a very special atmosphere was created. When he wasn’t singing, John was either kind of dancing, taking prayer poses, moving his hands around his body, or playing with the lights (I feared he would end up burning himself at some point, as their movements were quite unpredictable).

After I Am The Green Child, John said that he had been asked to warn us. He explained people with epileptic problems or other visual troubles should leave the room, as the next part would involve lots of stroboscope lights. He said we could put our hands in front of our eyes, or our friends’ ones. He finally added that he had been asked to make this warning announcement, which he would have rather not done otherwise. Then started the most impressive thing I ever saw ! I was enthralled when the phrase CONSTANT SHALOWNESS LEADS TO EVIL flashed on the screen. Noise started coming, the row of lights getting more intense and making new visual rhythms, while Coil started flashing us with big stroboscopes that were disposed all around the back of the stage, standing a bit higher than the previous row of lights. Everything slowly became bigger and bigger. Balance shouted a couple times that he needed it louder, louder, louder… All the lights became more and more intense, the music evolved to an enormous wall of white noise and things only Coil have the secrets for. The whole thing lasted quite a long amount of time. It’s hard to say how long, as time seemed altered for us, but it felt it lasted as long as the first part of the show. Anyway, I did feel inside another universe, for we were becoming half blind and half deaf. Words were pulsating one after the other on the screen, such as GOD PLEASE FUCK MY MIND FOR GOOD, a looped repetition of SOUND, COLOR, OBLIVION, and various other ones which were sometimes difficult to catch, especially as there was no possible way to focus the attention on single particular elements of the stage. PERSISTENCE IS ALL, and RESIST THE THINGS YOU CAN NOT FIGHT also appeared, and I wonder if subliminal words or pictures weren’t also projected for the accentuation of the maelstrom of sensations that reached us. I thought that each phrase was perfectly suited as a support to how we should behave or what to do during this assault. For instance, we could try to resist all the impressive signals created, which couldn’t be fought. If you tried to close your eyes to lower the sensations, a brand new world emerged where lights behind your lids and sounds beyond your ears were taking life, creating surreal shapes and patterns never seen before.

It was like GOD, HIGHER BEINGS, or SOMETHING was fucking your mind indeed, for the best ! And the continuous, intense flash of strobes, which were combining themselves with the other row of yellower lights, all quickly pulsing on self-evolving rhythms, suddenly created a persistence of vision phenomenon I had never experienced this way before. With the eyes wide open, green and blue etheral little flames started elevating from the stage-ground up to the screen (which wasn’t a screen anymore but blurred into the whole experience), dancing above John’s body. Other patterns were created, and when I turned my head up and down around me, they were all dancing above the audience’s heads. The public indeed sometimes took a particular importance, as it could give the impression of being part of a crowd who had the unique luck to experience something beyond self-limits. Still the sound was getting higher and higher, louder and louder, and sometimes unimaginable basses made the seats vibrate under our butts. In a flamboyant shattering moment, persistence made me see a rain of blue comets falling upon Coil, and I was filled with an outstanding feeling of Joy. My body was auto-moving on rhythms I wasn’t even sure to perceive among the power of their sound, and this went on and on and on….

Finally it seemed like the end was approaching, and when all the lights turned off, I wondered how my vision would come back to normality in the ordinary light of the room. Unexpectedly, when it was lit again, everything was absolutely clear, there was no need to try to refocus or make the persistence go ! The crowd was mad and waves of applauses and shouts burst out. The musicians came to the front of the stage (and that must have been the only time when Sleazy’s face was visible to us), and John took their hands. They briefly saluted us, and eclipsed soon after, visibly happy; and even though the audience went applauding for long and obviously needed more of the treatment, it was over. I remained sitting for a few minutes, with an incredible impression that something enormous had just happened. The sensation became even more present later in the evening, and I felt brand new, regenerated and filled with an outstanding energy that still lasts today. I would call it a catharsis, but words don’t seem appropriate to describe the consequences of an exposure to a Coil show. Be it due to their magics and rituals, to the music, the lights or images, whatever it was, something special happened for sure.

I forgot to mention a few unexpected things that happenned during the concert. There were two times when someone from the crowd shouted something : once a big “Thank you” at the end of a song, the other time “Residents”, to which John Balance answered “Yes, the Residents…” Around the end of Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil, John began going through a lot of agitation, smashing his microphone support to the ground, pulling it to different positions. At a moment, the white chalice was hit and fell, the incense getting out of it in a pretty line of powder on the stage floor. The chalice rolled towards the edge of the stage, and when it started approaching the border and it seemed like it was going to fall on the ground, people around got ready to go get it, when John Balance arrived and put his foot in front of it to stop his course. He stood there a little bit, which made him look very impressive. I still wonder if the chalice fell by pure accident or if it was done on purpose… At the very end of the show, Thighpaulsandra jumped on Balance’s back, they rolled onto the floor and started to fight on stage. It soon appeared it was a gentle fight, involving a lot of fun, as they were smiling, and looked like little dogs playing. But isn’t John Balance a dog by the way ?…

Bruno Henlé

avec mes chaleureux remerciements à John Balance et Jon Whitney pour leur aide précieuse,
ainsi qu’à Yannick Blay et le magasine D-Side pour m’avoir autorisé à utiliser leurs photos.

You’re reading the full version of this review, available at http://nodapoc.free.fr
A specially edited version was made for The Brainwashed Brain weekly digest.

Line-up

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”.
Thighpaulsandra.
Simon Norris (Ossian Brown).
Tom Edwards – marimba.

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Ticket Stubs

Venue

Le Lieu unique
2 Rue de la Biscuiterie,
44000 Nantes,
France

 

Gallery

Known Recordings

Tapes owners/taper:

SBD – Jet FM Radio