2002 – 3rd Tsunami

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At 3rd Tsunami / Amager Kulturpunkt

16th October 2002 – 3rd Tsunami / Amager Kulturpunkt – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DK

Set List

  1. I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves)
  2. The Last Rites of Spring
  3. Are you Shivering?
  4. Amethyst Deceivers (Version 3)
  5. A Warning from the Sun
  6. Lake View
  7. Ostia
  8. I Don’t Want to Be the One
  9. Bang Bang (Sonny Bono Cover)
  10. An Unearthly Red

Background

Feeling: Reflective

Supporting act(s): Hansen Hansen

Live Four” phase. Final live performance of “Lake View.”

In general from this point on unless otherwise noted for individual gigs, Massimo and Pierce would come onstage wearing their black costumes. After “The Last Rites of Spring,” Ossian and Thighpaulsandra would strip the pair of the lower half of their costume, and then after the third song, the pair would crouch as Ossian and Thighpaulsandra came back to them to remove their heads. This of course led to variance in the intros of the songs, in that Ossian and Thighpaulsandra would not play until a minute or so into the songs. Due to the addition of the costume and what visual records there are of these shows, their choreography slowly became more and more rehearsed and interesting as the gigs went on. Generally, Massimo and Pierce would pretend to shiver during “Are You Shivering?” don expressionless faces and slowly spin in circles during “Amethyst Deceivers,” raise their hands up in the air during “A Warning from the Sun,” cradle their heads in their hands during “Lake View” and “Drip Drop,” swoon to the music during “Windowpane” (when it was played), crouch on their hands and knees and slowly turn their heads across the audience during “Ostia,” stand up and slowly bleed out of their mouths during “I Don’t Want to Be the One,” either stand and look forlorn or approach each other and drink each other’s fake blood during “Bang Bang,” and finally maniacally dance like animals during “An Unearthly Red.”

In his original release of the concert, Thighpaulsandra recalls: “[T]here are a few interesting aspects to the performance, the most notable being the amount of alcohol John Balance had consumed before we took to the stage. There is also a fairly major equipment failure during Bang Bang which resulted in John finishing the song acappella which, under the circumstances, was no mean feat.” John indeed sounds very intoxicated, here, as especially in the earlier songs of the set, he slurs his words frequently.

However, there seems to be some debate over John’s mental state and general demeanor at this show. While there’s further detail in the “Attendee Recollection(s)” section of this page, some recall him in high spirits and quite in control of himself, while others recall him frustrated and tense. Hansen Hansen mentions that before the show, he overheard John on the phone talking to his then-boyfriend, whom apparently had just tested positive for H.I.V. Perhaps this unfortunate revelation led him to turning to the bottle before going onstage, as he dedicates “The Last Rites of Spring” to all HIV+ patients.

I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves)

Atypically, Coil launch into an improvised jam before Peter starts the backing audio track.

John: Hello.
Audience: Hello. Hi, John!
John: Hello! I am Angie Bowie. I am Angie Bowie.

Blublublubluah
Ah [repeated in various pitches]

No, I am Angie Bowie, no
(Don’t touch me, it’s okay!)
But I am Angie Bowie, no
I am Angie Bowie, nooo…agh!

These are sine waves, sine waves, sine waves, sine waves, sine waves…
Sine waves
And I am Angie Bowie
The wife of David Bowie
Before he became what he became
Before he became what he became

And I am Angie Bowie (Bowie, Bowie, Bowie…)
Echo me, echo me, echo me, echo me, echo me…
I am Angie Bowie
Echo me, echo me, echo me, echo me, echo me…
Otherwise, I’ll become Ian McCulloch, and that’s a fucking evil thing to be

Ian McCulloch is the lead singer of the band Echo and the Bunnymen. John’s onomatopoeia plays throughout the first half of the song.

John (after the song): “First song, end. Oh, come on, please try harder. Just a little, please. Thank you for me, just for me, personally, selfishly for me. Thank you. So we will go on.”

The Last Rites of Spring

John: “Oh, this is a weird one. This is ‘The Last Rites of Spring,’ and this is for all the people who are HIV+ and are living with it, and we have many friends who do. I’m sure you do too. It’s not a definite end, is it, Sleaz? It’s fine. Just love them as much as you can while you can, now.” I might be wrong about the “is it, Sleaz?” transcription – John mumbles a bit, right there.

Don’t do me like your Daddy did (repeated)
I didn’t wanna do it, I really didn’t want to do it, I REALLY didn’t want to do it
Don’t try it, don’t try it, don’t try it, don’t try it
You’ll never lose to the symphony of death
Unless you’re with someone you really, really love
That you’re with someone you really, really love
If you’re with days spent in millennium (?)
Be with someone you love

These animals are hallucinating in space
And these animals are hallucinating in space
And we’re moving William Burroughs into space
“Art” is the word written between time and space
And Williams Burroughs ha-lives hallucinating in space

And William Burroughs is so alone
And the [?] are so alone
And William Burroughs is hallucinating in space
And he’s gonna, lalala…

William Burroughs
Brion Gysin, who let the mice in
He let everything in
He cut the “O” word open
Cut the cows open
We cut the horse open
He made everything open
Made everything open
He’s been destroyed
He should destroy every little piece of language
Every little piece of language
Eat it and destroy it
Every little piece of language
LALALALA…
Eat it and destroy it

Are You Shivering?

John: “‘Ollo! Are you, uh, shivering? Are you cold? Are you bathed in silver? Yes? Are you drowned in gold? Not yet.”

Are you shivering?
Are you cold?
Are you drowned in silver?
Or are you soaked in gold?
Are you loathsome tonight?
Does your madness shine bright?
Are you loathsome tonight?

Are you shivering tonight?
Does your madness shine bright?
Are you loathsome tonight?

In the mountains of the moon
Swimming squid-like and squalid
This bright earth is a liquid
This dark earth is a solid

Are you loathsome tonight?
Does your madness shine bright?

In the mountains of the moon
Swimming squid-like and squalid
The bright moon is a liquid
The dyke earth is a solid
This is moon musick by the light of the moon

Are you loathsome tonight?
Does your madness shine bright?
Are you loathsome tonight?

*sigh
Ah…
Ah…
Ah…

John (after the song): “We thank you. We’re very dazed. We’ve been traveling for two days to come here, and it’s a little difficult, but it’s okay, ‘cuz you’re here. Thank you.”

Amethyst Deceivers

John: “The next song is about a mushroom. Has anyone got any mushrooms?”
Audience member: “Yeah!”
John: “Yes?”
Audience member: “You don’t need any.”
John: “I don’t need any. I want some, but I don’t need any. Ha! There’s a lots of, lots of things I need, but I don’t want. You just have to ask, for fuck’s sake.”

This version has the percussion intro. The closing verse harkens back to “Broccoli”:

Really, pay your respects to your parents and your ancestors
You may not like them, you may hate them
But they are why you are here now
So pay your respects to the vultures

A Warning from the Sun

John: “Oh, you’re too kind. This one hurts my throat, next. I have a bad throat, so if I can’t scream loud enough, please forgive me. Will, won’t you? It does hurt. This is not a Nazi salute, it’s the sun salute. Never mistake them.”

Lake View

At the previous gig, the Megalithomania festival, Coil debuted “Drip Drop” in a 40-minute long, significantly permuted form. This final performance of “Lake View” has elements of “Drip Drop,” but the song wouldn’t properly replace it with a new truncated version until the following gig in Oslo.

John: “William Blake. Oh, please don’t encourage us. Oh, now I have an improvisation. ‘The Universe is a Haunted House.’ Agh, I have to make things up for this! I’m coming in. I need some improvisation from people. I’m coming in, I’m coming in.”

Decadent
Sixteen-second delay
I need to be far, far away
We are angels and mathematical
Decadent and symmetrical
Don’t look at me, I’m not here
It’s where you are, that’s the important thing
Believe in yourself
Thank you for pulling my cord

We are angels
We are mathematical

We are angels and we are mathematical
A new loop, a new loop, a new loop, a new loop…
Yoo-lip-ooh!

We’re angels, we’re angels, we’re angels
We arrange your angels
Rearrange your angels (repeated)
Rearrange your angel
Range your angels
Re-derange your angels

Angels are anger and mathematical and de-spatical [sic]

We’re not angel thing (?)
A three-dimensional thing
Well, that’s finished, now
Rearrange your angels (repeated)
You can’t say goodbye to something that hasn’t already happened, yet

Arrange your angels
Rearrange your angels (repeated)
Otherwise, you’ll get them backwards up the ass
The angels up your anus
I guarantee your angels
I guarantee your angels up your ass
I guarantee you’ve angels up the ass
I guarantee you angels
I guarantee you angels up the ass
I will guarantee you angels till you ask

Some of the lines resemble those from the Backwards-era song “Fire of the Mind.”

Ostia

John: “From Horse Rotorvator.”

There’s honey in the hollows
And the contours of the body
A sickly golden trickle
A sluggish golden river
You can hear his bones humming
You can hear his bones humming

And the car reverses over
The body in the basin
The shallow sea-plane basin

Lion lies down
Lion lies down
Out of the strong, there came forth sweetness
Out of the strong, there came forth sweetness

Throw my bones over the white cliffs of Dover
And murder me, and murder me
Leon lies down, sleeping like a lion
Lion lies down
Lion lies down
Throw my bones over, throw my bones over
Oh, throw my bones over the white cliffs of Dover
And murder me, and murder me in Ostia
And murder me in Ostia
And murder me in Ostia

Leon like a lion sleeping in the sunshine
Lion lies down, lion lies down

Out of the strong came forth sweetness, out of the strong
Out of the strong came forth sweetness, out of the strong
Out of the strong
Out of the strong, lion lies down
The lion lies down
The lion lies down…
The lion lies down, the lion lies down, the lion lies down

John (after the song): “Mira! Give me back phenomenon. What would you like me to say?”

I Don’t Want to Be the One

Because there’s certain things that people reflect at me, and I don’t want them to, and they look at me and they think they know who exactly I am, and I am not that person at all, ever. To me, I’m not who I am anyway, so don’t project onto me, because you’ll find out that I don’t want to be the one, and it hurts when people try and be me vs. myself. And un-un-alchemical things happen, and it’s not to do with chemistry, it’s to do with fuck-ology. Psychology, mirrors, shit, mirrors shit, sick mirrors sick, sick mirrors sick, sick mirrors sick, sick mirrors sick, and I don’t want to be the one. I’m on fire, here, for fuck’s sake!

I don’t want to be the one
I don’t want to be the one
When everyone has gone
I don’t want to be the one
When everyone has gone

I don’t wanna spend my life looking back
To see the skies turn black
I don’t wanna be the one
To spend my life looking back
I don’t want to be the one
To s-find out why they find this dangerous game
To find out why they came

I don’t want to be the one
I don’t want to be the one
I don’t want to be the one
To find out why they came
To play their dangerous game

I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE
TO PLAY THEIR DANGEROUS GAME
TO FIND OUT WHY THEY CAME
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE, WAHHHHHHH, AH!
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE

I don’t want to be the one
To find out why they came
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE, AHHH!

There appears to be sound problems during the middle of the song, as Thighpaulsandra synthesizer cuts out just as the song is building its climax.

Bang Bang

John: Get ready, in a minute!
Audience member: Yeah!

There’s a false start, as John fails to come in at the right time. Thighpaulsandra’s piano cuts out after the first two lines of the final verse, leaving John to finish the song by himself.

I was five, and he was six
We rode on horses made of sticks
He wore black and I wore white
And he would always win the fight

Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down

Seasons came and changed the times
When I grew up, I called him mine
And he would laugh and he would say,
“Remember when we used to play”

Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, you hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, I used to shoot you down

Music sang and people played
Just for me, the church bell played
And now he’s gone, I don’t know why
Until this day, some day, I cry
Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, he used to shoot me down

John (after the song): “Thank you. I’ve got hot coals on my feet. I’ve been burned on my feet. You hallucinogenic people, you.”

An Unearthly Red

Audience member: “Hello!”
John: “No ‘hello.’ Goodbye, this one is. Sayonara. Truly. If you let George Bush do any more in this world, you’ll fucking get it, so stop him, now.”
(Audience cheers and applause)
John: “Yes! George Bush, fucking stop him, now! Assassinate him! Whatever it takes, just do it!”

The song launches into the percussion before the normal introductory synth backing track comes in. John has an exclusive effect applied to his microphone for this version.

Your mother, she said, “God told me to do it”
She’s gotta pour
She said, “God told me to do it”
She said, “Mother is a whore”
She is the mother
My father is God
Oh yes, oh yes, my father is God

My father is God, my father is God
Father is God-ah, ask him
Ask him, ask him, ask him… [repeated]
You must ask him, ask him, ask him, ask him…
I wanna ask him
My father is God
ASK HIM, ASK HIM, ASK HIM, ASK HIM!
And God told me to do it
And God told me to DO IT
Then God told me to DO IT

God told me to do it
Oh yes he did, God told me to do it
“GOD TOLD ME TO DO IT!”
I SAID, “GOD TOLD ME TO DO IT!”

I SAID GOD TOLD ME TO DO IT

John’s closing words: “I’m not feeling very well, but thank you very much for coming. Thank you on behalf of us all. Thank you.” The audience applauds and calls for an encore. One overzealous fan seems to take John’s mic from the stage and shouts, “More!”

Line-up

John Balance – vocals
Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson – Ableton sequence, video projections, Clavia Nord Modular Synthesizer
Thighpaulsandra – Clavia Nord Modular Synthesizer, Kurzweil Synthesizer, Electro-Harmonix on John’s vocals (with 16-second delay, modified by Kanwal Dulay)
Simon Norris (Ossian Brown) – Clavia Nord Modular Lead Synthesizer, Kurzweil Synthesizer on “Are You Shivering?”
Massimo Villani – Pasolini poem reading on “Ostia,” Black Sun Productions’ “Ghost Boy” performance art
Pierce Wyss – Black Sun Productions’ “Ghost Boy” performance art

Advertisements, Backstage or Related Promo Material

Ticket Stubs

Venue

Amager Bio
Øresundsvej 6
2300 København S
Denmark

Gallery

Attendee Recollection(s)

Mads Peder Lau Pedersen attended this gig and remembers: “I was there, and it was brilliant, though I was probably too young to get a grasp of just HOW brilliant. Sadly the only time I saw Coil live. I believe I have two posters from that gig. A lot of people whom one would expect to be there didn’t show up, as the ticket was a bit pricey for the time. A “grail” filled with incense was passed around among the first few rows; I was the one who handed it back to Balance, and I still like to believe we had some kind of eye contact, even though we probably didn’t…”

Alexander Bruheim attended this show and remembers: “Attended Coil-gig in Copenhagen back in 2002. The gig was in an old cinema converted to live venue I live not too far from Oslo, and I know the venue pretty well Amager bio in copenhagen still in use as a concert venue probably fits 1000 audio was absolutely superb it is well known for its good acoustics setlist identical to Oslo intro to I Don’t Want To Be The One is probably the most spine-chilling moment I’ve ever witnessed. I was completely paralyzed by the pristine beauty of Are You Shivering? Jhon seemed to be in a good mood – jokin, humouristic and – yes – actually quite in balance Support act was an artist called Unveiled, a danish one-man act, who also happened to run one of the record stores downtown Copenhagen (called Baden-Baden). One of the only stores where you could get Coil records Wanted to talk tom him about his encounter with Jhon and Peter, but never got the chance The store closed long time ago, and I’m not sure what he’s up to today I’m quite sure he has a lot of material from Copenhagen concert.”

Hansen Hansen opened for Coil and remembers: “I did indeed play support for Coil, who has always been my absolute favorite band…I remember most of the night, and especially how Balance was even more unbalanced than usual. A few hours before the show, he had been on the phone with his boyfriend, who confirmed that he had tested positive for H.I.V. . Frustration and anger was thick in the air.”

Known Recordings

Tapes owners/taper:
Unknown

Concert Recording Downloads

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Kiefer’s Concert Review

2020-03-29 DISCLAIMER: New information has been uncovered which renders much information in this review inaccurate, including the nature of John and Peter’s relationship before this and how John made it home from Greece. I have chosen to keep this review as is for the sake of historical preservation (much like this website), but just note that because it was written in 2019, it is now outdated.

Coil
Copenhagen 2002 Review

It’s well-known by this point that Coil exhibited a “feed the demons” policy in their 90s-early 2000s work. During one psychotic episode at home involving John punching out a glass door and cutting his arms up with the chunks, Peter famously grabbed some blank record sleeves and collected some of his blood to make the special edition of Musick to Play in the Dark Vol. 2. Alcohol had been his recovery tool from ecstasy starting in the early 90s, but even after the clubbing craze died out, John stuck to the bottle. Fortunately, Coil knew when to rein the demons in, and based on a handful of fan reports, interviews, and fellow band member recollections, throughout most of 2001 and 2002, John did just that, staying completely sober. His prohibition gave him a new lease on life, and he came out of his hermitic shell to connect better with friends and fans through that year and a half. A suspected heart attack in October 2001 further steered John clear away from the drink (though it sadly compromised a proposed North American tour). Unfortunately, by October 6, 2002, the demons had returned, much stronger than before.

The morning after their show in Greece, John left the hotel Coil were staying at without telling anyone where he was going or what he was doing. Peter, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian could not find him anywhere, leading to a tough decision to stick to their schedule and board the plane back home without him. Peter was nothing if not a professional, after all, but this call left him worried sick for days. Miraculously, John hitch-hiked his way back to Weston Super-Mare, returning quite out-of-it but still alive. The two had a tremendous argument that completely killed their romantic relationship, leading to their sour remoteness at Megalithomania (“Why are YOU here?!!”). With barely any time to sort out their personal and professional issues, Coil set out on their Northern European/Scandanavian tour, to last the rest of the month. Their first stop was at the Amager Bio in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 3rd Tsunami festival.

Up until July 28, 2019, this was one of the few Coil concerts we had no recordings of, making it a personal wish from me to some day see/hear. We only had one picture taken during “Ostia,” one during “Bang Bang,” a few posters, and a ticket scan. (Black Sun Productions once had pictures of the concert on their website, but tragically, these weren’t backed up on the Wayback Machine.) Incredibly, my prayers were answered, when out of nowhere, Thighpaulsandra very kindly released his 2019 mix of the multitracks recorded at the show for free on his website! What a wonderful, kind gesture to the Coil fanbase! In honor of the fact he posted it as a companion piece to “Live Five,” I publish this overview/review of the performance as a companion piece to my review of “Live Five.”

In his original post, Thighpaulsandra mentions that the most notable thing about the concert is the fact John consumed a substantial amount of alcohol right before they took to the stage. Having listened to it, that certainly isn’t the only interesting factor to the show, but you can tell it very much colors the proceedings – he really is absolutely trashed, here. In the liner notes to Colour Sound Oblivion, Peter remembers how difficult it could be to coax John onto the stage when he was drinking. Once he started performing, he was fine, but it’s depressing to imagine the rest of the group literally pushing their stumbling, slurring frontman onto the stage, here. Listening to this recording, you have to wonder just how close he was to teetering off the edge, both of the stage and himself. Simply put…this performance is genuinely terrifying and depressing. There are lighter moments, which I’ll get into, but it’s quite sad hearing John so completely fucked up.

Because Copenhagen has never surfaced before, I feel the need to go song-by-song with it. Having listened to all the other concerts ad infinitum (and at times, ad nauseum), I’m looking to see how these performances stack up compared to others – the more nuanced, the better. Thankfully, one doesn’t have to look very far, because this performance is much, MUCH different than almost all other “Live Four” shows.

1. “I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves)” – surprisingly unique and well-performed. I can only think of one rather mediocre performance of this song – Helsinki – but most of the later versions were hampered by the fact Thighpaulsandra and Ossian had to guide Massimo and Pierce to their places onstage because of their new costumes (introduced at Megalithomania and used at every “Live Four” show thereafter, likely including this one), thus couldn’t provide instrumentation for the first minute or two and we’d just be hearing the backing audio track. Here, however, the show begins with John talking to the audience and the other members jamming on their synths for about a minute before Peter commences the backing audio track, meaning they play through the whole song. John’s initial vocal loops overstay their welcome, but the synths make up for it, and his lyrical improvisations make the second half stellar (“Echo me…otherwise I’ll become Ian McCulloch, and that’s a fucking evil thing to be.”) One of the best performances of the song, on par with Greece, Lodz, and Prague.

2. “The Last Rites of Spring – really, really scary. This performance literally gave me chills on my first listen! In an incredible display of self-awareness, John introduces it by saying, “Oh, this is a WEIRD one…” which, to be fair, it totally is. I adore the improvised lyrics and the instrumentation is just incredible. Shortly before the ending of the song, the low synths start to build up and the intensity really begins to overwhelm the listener. On par with Gdansk and Lodz; with some further listening and contemplation, it might even be the best performance of the song ever, and I can’t believe I am saying that.

3. “Are You Shivering?” – sadly, probably John’s worst ever vocal for the song. The rest of the band do a fabulous job, but John doesn’t begin singing until the first choir section and frequently messes up the lyrics, bringing the whole quality of the song down. However, he almost saves it at the end, when he intones over the choir, creating a very beautiful close to the track which I desperately wish he replicated in other performances. A perfect version of the song would probably be mixed from the instrumentals of Greece, the vocals from either Royal Festival Hall or Vienna, and the ending moans from here.

4. “Amethyst Deceivers” – excellent version, not at all superfluous, like you might be inclined to assume, given the abundance of performances of this song. Thighpaulsandra’s piano is unparalleled, here – it makes the song feel regal, princely, and whimsical. I also like Ossian’s synthesizer, which has a different timbre here than usual. The mix is fairly unique as well, with little emphasis on the hurdy-gurdy audio track for a change. I will say this version fails to build much of a climax at the end, but I love the piano too much to really care. I think Gdansk is still the best “Live Four” performance, but this one is up there.

5. “A Warning from the Sun” – also excellent. Again, Coil rarely did a lame playthrough of this track, but you do notice after a while that they all start to sound same-y, largely because of Thighpaulsandra’s guitar-esque synthesizer which he rarely remixed. Greece always stood out in this regard and Vienna had enough other good things about it to make up for the relatively low-energy guitar synth, but I digress. This version, however, has a masterful synth riff. It sounds more like Thighpaulsandra is playing a real electric guitar with a slider! I’m sold on this uniqueness alone. John’s vocals are just average, though, which to his credit, he admits the song is a strain on him before it begins. On par with Greece, Gdansk, and Vienna.

6. “Lake View” – rather comical, I have to say! To begin with, at Megalithomania, Coil debuted an extended permutation of “Drip Drop.” A truncated version would go on to replace “Lake View” and then be spliced with “Windowpane” at later shows. Given Copenhagen followed Megalithomania, I always assumed Coil immediately swapped “Lake View” for “Drip Drop,” but as it turns out, that’s not the case, and the band give “Lake View” one final playthrough. This version, sadly, is worse than Konigsberg and Greece, and I owe that largely to John’s late-start on the improvised lyrics. “Agh, I have to make things up for this!” He seemingly asks audience members to help him come up with some sort of lyrical theme, then he utters some nonsense before finally launching into some mutated lines from “Fire of the Mind,” which although are a delight to hear take some patience to get to. I don’t love the mix on this song either, as John’s vocal loops somewhat bury the relatively more interesting instrumentation. With all that said, after a few more listens, I think I’ll warm up to it a little more. Even as far as songs carrying the “The Universe is a Haunted House” moniker go, this song manages to be completely different from all others, so it deserves a lot of credit.

7. “Ostia” – not bad. This track was usually pretty difficult for the band to nail live. John does space his lines out pretty well, not rushing into them like he would at shows like Fano and Oslo, but he does stumble a bit in the middle of the song. There is some unique instrumentation, and I love the middle of the track when Ossian’s synth comes in loud, but otherwise, this performance is nothing special. Not as good as Konigsberg, Greece, or Vienna, but this is passable all the same, like Royal Festival Hall and Prague.

8. “I Don’t Want to Be the One” – not good. John’s opening monologues to the song ranged from effectively disturbing and provocative to utter nonsense, whether he was intoxicated or not. As drunk as he was, I do enjoy this particularly monologue, as it’s relatively easy to follow (not to mention the callback to “Sick Mirrors”). Unfortunately, this is where some sound problems start to creep up. Right at 3:27, just as the song is about to climax, Thighpaulsandra’s synth cuts out, and it takes a few lines for it come back, by which point the build-up has passed, so he just plays some low, menacing notes. John starts screaming and wailing, as he usually did by this point in the song, but because of the loss of instrumental climax, it doesn’t have nearly the same punch as it really should. It’s nobody’s fault that this happened – it’s just a real shame. This performance is ultimately an interesting listen, and some might say it has an impact of its own, but it’s still disappointing, to me. At the very least, John’s vocal effects sound particularly akin to the “Astral Disaster” original, with it echoing and flying away at the end as it did on the album. Prague remains the best performance, with Greece and Lodz being close runner-ups.

9. “Bang Bang” – sadly, the worst performance of the song ever. Definitely the most interesting, but still pretty awful. There’s a false start, John barely keeps up with the piano, and when the piano dies, John lurches the song to a close in acapella. I do like his raspy breathing between lines, which enhances the emotional depth of the track, but there’s no fragility, no tenderness, no pointed relation to what’s being sung. Curiously, Peter also doesn’t play any synthesizer, like he normally would – no real complaints from me, on that point. Vienna and Jesi are still the two best versions.

10. “An Unearthly Red” – awe-inspiring. Fucking hell, I LOVE this song! “If you let George Bush do any more in this world, you’ll fucking get it, so stop him, now! Yes! George Bush, fucking stop him now! Assassinate him! Whatever it takes, just do it!” I haven’t heard him put it any more bluntly anywhere else (not counting his elongated speech at Fano), and his words frame a stellar version. I could be wrong but I think this is the final performance where John implemented vocal loops on this song, making it even more of a treasure. John has a vocal effect on his mic that makes me think of an airplane pilot. How appropriate – imagine him flying that plane! Sums up Coil’s sheer contempt for one of America’s worst presidents ever quite nicely. The instrumentation is spectacular. That middle “Ask him!” section where John shouts reminds me so much of Genesis P-Orridge screaming into the mic in Throbbing Gristle’s glory days. I fucking love the ending, too. Wow. What a surprisingly fabulous version. I’d still take Lodz over it, for the emphasis on percussion and John’s even more unhinged vocals, but this is probably the second best version…unless a high quality audio recording of Vienna’s “An Unearthly Red” surfaces, in which case, it might be 3rd.

Thighpaulsandra’s mix of Copenhagen initially reminded me a lot of his SBD mix of Greece, which he did back in 2010 for the release of Colour Sound Oblivion. I’m not sure if I should chalk that up more to his mixing, or more to how Copenhagen was recorded, but you can hear the similarities in how Peter’s backing audio tracks are mixed on songs like “Amethyst Deceivers” and “Lake View.” Of course, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention Thighpaulsandra’s clearly gotten better at mixing over the past 9 years, as both the SBDs for Copenhagen and Gdansk overall sound much deeper/fuller/clearer and have much greater stereo-mixing than the Greece SBD. For the most part, Copenhagen sounds just about perfect. I still have mixed feelings on what I suspect to be overdubbing (primarily John’s vocal loops), but without any other sources of this gig to reference, for all I know, this could be exactly how the gig sounded live. Furthermore, parts of John’s vocals are a little buried in the instrumentation, whereas he consistently sang at the forefront on the Gdansk SBD. I can imagine sometimes he didn’t sing directly into the mic, on account of his drunkenness, though, so this aspect gets a pass. In particular, “I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves),” “The Last Rites of Spring,” “Are You Shivering?” and “An Unearthly Red” are mixed exceptionally well.

The fact John was so drunk at this performance puts a lot of things into perspective. The following gig took place in Oslo the next day, one of the more forgettable from the “Live Four” era, in part because we now know John must have been terribly hungover. The rest of the band had a tendency to match John’s energy, thus they turned in a relatively low-energy show. While under the influence, John usually alternated between giving the performance of his life and stumbling terribly, sometimes from song to song at the same performance. Supposedly at Dour and Lodz, he was tripping on psylocybin mushrooms. Tripping out tended to make him much more aggressive and angry. Dour is an excellent performance throughout but Lodz is very much hit-and-miss because of this. At Prague, he was reportedly drunk on absinthe – another hit-and-miss show. At Vienna, he was apparently hungover with several new cuts on his arms, although thankfully, unlike at Oslo, he still managed to turn in one of the best Coil performances ever, there. We don’t currently have any such data on any other show from this tour, but I would be willing to guess he was also hungover at Helsinki, and I doubt he was under the influence at every show; for example, he seems pretty lucid at Gdansk.

My point is that it’s fascinating to track John’s progress throughout this tour because it almost consistently determines the quality of each performance…as well as explains why Coil almost broke up at the end of the month. Following Copenhagen, Coil finished out the rest of the month, and by all accounts from the band members, it was a rather miserable affair. Tales of John flying into psychotic rages, trashing hotel rooms and blowing through the band’s tour money on mini-bars, leading to some members never being paid their due, slowly dripped into the fanbase. Two gigs in Italy were supposed to follow Vienna, but they were unfortunately canceled because John became so uncontrollable. While the others were doing interviews and other PR, John usually snuck off to do what he would. It wasn’t fun for anyone, including the fans, to watch this enigmatic, shamanic, beloved musician spiral out of control. To his credit, though, in his more lucid moments, John very much acknowledged the harm his addiction caused to those he loved, especially to Peter, who looked on as over the next six months, John would become romantically involved with artist Ian Johnstone. This self-awareness unfortunately did little to get him to stop drinking, and he went on to spend most of the last two years of his life in a hermitic stupor.

Copenhagen was not the beginning of the end, as you can really point to Greece or Megalithomania over it, but it was the first stop on the long downward spiral. Incredibly, however, despite all the personal and professional problems plaguing the band, the music was left almost entirely uncompromised. Somehow, Coil turned in some impeccable, gutwrenching, and arresting concerts during 2002-2004 (this one, Gdansk, Vienna, ATP, Paris, Ocean, Dublin…). It’s unbelievable how they were able to channel all of the negativity and sadness into their art as they did, or at least create such wonderful art in spite of this negativity and sadness.

Thank you again to Thighpaulsandra for making this concert available to all. It’s a must-listen. Now all that’s left is Tochka and Stockholm (possibly also Gdansk October 24). 🙂