2002 – Only Connect

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At The Barbican

27th April 2002 – Game On Only Connect: Play, The Barbican, London, UK

Set List

  1. Anarcadia: All Horned Animals
  2. Amethyst Deceivers (Version 2)
  3. Slur
  4. A Cold Cell
  5. Sick Mirrors
  6. An Unearthly Red

Soundcheck:

  1. Sick Mirrors
  2. Anarcadia: All Horned Animals

Event Organization

On January 11, 2002, the Barbican announced this concert on their website, advertising it as follows: “Computer games have long held a fascination for synth mavericks, from the Yellow Magic Orchestra’s celebration of Space Invaders to the chemical Brothers’ PlayStation soundtracks. This commission invites three exploratory electronica duos – oddball, highly English Gothic techno veterans Coil; warp-signed electro abstracters Plaid; and Cologne’s digital funk pairing Mouse on Mars to come and play. The event sees all three acts reworking original scores and composing new work as they accompany large screen edited graphics of computer games.”

According to Robin Rimbaud: “In 2002, I produced a show at the Barbican Theatre in London, to accompany the Game On exhibition in the gallery that focused on the rise and influence of computer games. I commissioned Mouse on Mars, SND, Plaid and Coil to perform and compose new works that resonated with this theme. I especially remember how nervous Geff was, since his dad was attending the show and they’d been estranged for many years. It was, as you might expect, an extremely emotional encounter and event. I was honoured to meet his dad and to share in this intimate moment…Coil didn’t play a full set…Mouse on Mars and Plaid [played] in the main theatre, whilst SND and others performed afterwards outside in the foyer. I’m still working my way through the archive for this recording as I know for certain it’s there on video!…It frustrates me as I have SO much stuff in my archive and it’s a massive task to digitise it all…Footage of this Barbican event recently reappeared on MiniDV tape but at the time of writing I’m still struggling to make a good transfer of this film, which includes much live footage, as well as rehearsals and backstage talk too.”

I asked him if he recalls Coil being upset by the short set time, to which he responded: “Not at all, as it wasn’t a Coil show, they were part of a trio of artists. The order was chosen almost randomly. There was no headliner as such. As the publicity clearly denotes the evening was originally intended to be creating and reworking material focusing on the theme of computer games, not traditional artist shows as such. In the end it felt like rather a missed opportunity as few of the artists actually embraced this opportunity as widely as hoped. Sleazy and I had had many conversations about this flight simulation software he had bought, so I was happy to see this make an appearance within the performance towards the close though.”

Concert Background

Feeling: Reflective

“Backwards / The Remote Viewer” phase. Final “Anarcadia” tour show. Final live performances of “Slur,” “A Cold Cell,” and “Sick Mirrors.” Debut performance of “An Unearthly Red,” which replaces “Backwards” as the loud, abrasive closer to the set. At this point, John calls it “Captain Clark Welcomes You Aboard Flight 23,” which is a lyric from the Throbbing Gristle song “The Old Man Smiled,” which in turn was a reference to the William S. Burroughs poem “Captain Clark Welcomes You Aboard.” The nascent lyrics do not reference George W. Bush as they later would, but Peter did play the same flight simulator backing video projection.  This is also the only version of the song that has an intro clocking in at almost 3 and a half minutes (as heard on the backing audio track later released on the Coil Reconstruction Kit in 2010) and which incorporates elements from “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil.”

Other act(s): Plaid, Mouse On Mars; DJs: Scanner, SND, Mark Fell & Mat Steel

According to Robin, John’s father attended the show, which made him nervous, as they hadn’t spoken in years. The reunion backstage was emotional.

Anarcadia: All Horned Animals

John groans into the mic for the last minute of the song and an audience member chuckles before applause. This was the first time he’d done this since the 2002-04-04 Zürich gig.

Amethyst Deceivers

John: “All horned animals, all horned animals, all hold animals, all horned animals, all hold animals. We worship at the shrine of the thylacine, we worship at the shrine of the thylacine.”

John (after the song): “That one was for all the mushroom boys, here.”
(Audience cheers)
John: “Fungal strategies, fungal strategies.”

Slur

John: “This one’s for Nicola Bowery, and also Marc Almond.” Nicola Bowery was the wife of artist Leigh Bowery.

John flubs singing on the right beat during the second verse, leading him to rush a little bit.

Roman lands of Roman sands and Roman sons
Roman lands of Roman sands and Roman sons

As I watch the sun sink down on the blood red edge of the blood red town
There are shadows for sale
On the edge of town
On the edge of the night is a darkness seen
From the side of the light

And the winds blow ’round this sleeping town,
This sleeping town
Of Roman lands and Roman sands and Roman sons

Roman lands of Roman sands and Roman sons
And the winds blow ’round this sleeping town,
This sleeping town, this sleeping town

And it seems to me that when I close my eyes
All the lights in the world go out
And the night passes by and you whisper to me a thousand lies
I stare in surprise towards the desert’s warm black
And the desert stares, and the desert stares back
With a thousand eyes
Piercing eyes
Ancient eyes

And I ask my lovers, “Do you know where the desert roses bloom and grow?”
I ask my lovers, “Do you know where the desert roses bloom and grow?”
I ask my lovers, “Do you know where the desert roses bloom and grow?”
Bloom and grow
Bloom and grow
Bloom and grow
Bloom and grow
Bloom and grow

And I ask my lovers,
And I ask my lovers, “Do you know where the desert roses bloom and grow?”
For I ask my lovers, “Do you know where the desert roses bloom and grow?”

John (after the song): “Thank you, thank you very much.”

A Cold Cell

John: “This next song is, uh, dedicated to all the prisoners in the world, and the video which dying is, uh, from what was the former USSR. Uh, Tajikistan, I think.”

One night in my cold cell, I’m dreaming of my mother
As I’m taking a train away, taking a train away
And the eye in the sky, the moon
The full moon, the full moon
It has shown it’s as bright and it’s cold
As the metal in my heart in this cell
In this cold cell

And I’m dreaming of train tracks taking my dreams away
Taking me away from this place where the metal is cold
Where the metal is all, and the metal is cold
And I’m dreaming, and I’m dreaming
And I’m dreaming, and I’m dreaming of the train track taking me away
And the moon reflects in the puddles of ice
And I smash the ice to make slivers of mirrors
To cut my wrists
To cut my wrists so I bleed and the warmth of my blood pours down

With a bit of luck, I’ll get to stay in the hospital
Won’t have to wait for days to warm my soul, which is cold as the iron
Which is cold as the soul, which is cold as the moon
Which is cold as my soul taken away on the trains in my dreams
And there is no place I can go
And there is no place I can go
And there is no place in the mirrors, no place without guards, no place
In a cold cell

And on the darkest days, we inject our legs with paraffin
‘Cuz that causes ulcers, and the ulcers get us to save our souls
…A cold cell, so I forget to spend in prisons, pay for most devil’s soul [?]
The regime is hard, ice, and cold, and snow
And it seems that nobody wants to know
And it seems that nobody wants to know
In this cold cell
In this cold cell
In my cold cell

Sick Mirrors

John delivers his famous extended Cher speech before the song, which earns him numerous laughs from the audience: “Beware, beware the black shadow of Cher. Beware, beware the black shadow of Cher. She walks this land, she stalks this land. Cher made of antimatter, with real hair.”

Mike and Cliff slowly come in, then John says, “Can I please have these two lights at my feet turned off for this one? Thank you. If possible, otherwise I’ll break them.” The lights turn off. “Thank you.”

As far as I know, this was the first (and last) performance of the song to implement the backing video projection. Up to this point, Coil merely implemented purple stage lights and spot lights to cast their shadows on the blank projection screen behind them. Peter later recycled this video for various songs and performances, such as on “Anarcadia + The Gimp/Sometimes” at Den Haag 2002, “Drip Drop” at Birmingham 2003, and at the beginning and end of all the “Even an Evil Fatigue” shows in 2004, making it the most versatile of the projections he ever used for live Coil performances.

…I wonder when
Ooh, ooh [repeated]
I wonder when they’ll come again, I wonder when

I wonder when they’ll come again, I wonder when
I wonder when they’ll come again, I wonder when
I wonder when they’ll come again, I wonder when
I wonder when they’ll come again, I wonder when

Something black broke another thing’s back
And something red killed another thing dead
Oh, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick
Something red broke another thing’s head
And something black killed the other thing back
Oh, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick

Something black broke another thing’s back
And something red killed another thing dead
Oh, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick
Sick

We worship at the church of the hairy mother of God
We worship at the church of the hairy mother of God
We worship at the church of the hairy mother of God
We worship at the church of the hairy mother of God
Mother of God
With the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick, the sick
The mirrors sick, sick, sick, sss
The sick, sick, sick mirrors, uh

And something black broke another thing’s back
And something red killed the other thing dead
Oh, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sick mirrors, the sick mirrors, the sea mirrors, the sick mirrors
The sea, the sea, the sea, the sea mirrors me
Mirrors me, mirrors me, mirrors me, mirrors me
Mirrors me, mirrors me, mirrors me, mirrors me
Mirrors me, mirrors me, mirrors me, it does me

Death knows, death blows, death grows like a river
Death knows, death grows, death flows like a river
Death knows, death grows, death flows like a river
Death knows, death grows, death flows like a river

The final verse is from “Broccoli.”

John (after the song): “Thank you. I’ve neglected to mention [someone’s name I can’t make out] before I came on. I’m very thirsty tonight, sorry.”
Audience member: “I wish I did.”
John: “The miraculous image of sound washed ashore.”
Stage-hand: “Mister, sorry. Right this way. For you, press (?).” Perhaps someone had run onstage, or was going where he wasn’t supposed to?
John (scoffing): “Thank you. Heh. The miraculous image of sound washed ashore.”

An Unearthly Red

Audience member: (indecipherable)
John: “Wait, wait, wait, wait. Can we have the stage almost completely dark for this one, please, so the video can be seen? This is ‘Captain Clark Welcomes You Aboard Flight 23.’ If it is good enough for Williams Burroughs to fly, then I’m gonna go in it as well.”

Oh, ching, ah! [repeated]
Oh, ching
Oh, whuh, whuh?

Poet boys, poet boys [?]
Space boys, space boys
Oh, poetry boys, poetry boys [?]
Young boys, golden boy
Golden boys, golden boys

Passion boys, sterner boys [?]
The younger boys, golden boys
Golchi boys, boring boys
Poetry boys, golden boys

Ahhh!

Golchi boys, forever boys
Golden boys, mushroom boys
Mushrooms boys, mushroom boys
Mushrooms boys, sucking boys [?]
Mushroom boys, space boys
Poetry boys, game boys [?]
Golden boys, golden boy
Golden boys, golchi boys
Timing boys, space boys [?]
Eat your boys, broken boys [?]
Poetry boys, poetry boys
Young boys, where the boys? [?]
Mirrored boys, poetry boys [?]
Poetry boys, space boys

My younger boys [?]
Trust me, boys [?]
Faster, boys
Poetry boys, broken boys
Mushroom boys, mushroom boys
Space boys, golden boys
Golden boys, golden boys
Gold boys, bold boys [?]
Golden boys, golden boys
Broken boys, golden boys [?]

Peter mixes in the ending “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” at the end of the performance, but John sings no lyrics from the song.

John’s closing words: “Thank you very much. That’s it for us this evening. They wouldn’t let us play as we asked, what you wanted, but next time, maybe. Thanks for coming to see us.”

Regardless of Robin’s testimony, it seems Coil were upset they couldn’t play their full set after all.

Soundcheck Notes

Only about a minute and a half of the soundcheck was recorded, in four small clips.

Sick Mirrors

Something black
Something red
Something black broke another thing-

Anarcadia: All Horned Animals

John rings the horse bells into his microphone and listens to the echo effect.

John (to Mike): “Listen, listen, yes. So when you, when you come in, come in a little bit later. Give it time to get to the second verse, and then-”
Mike: “Okay.”
John: “Yeah.”

Line-up

John Balance – vocals, sleigh bells on “Anarcadia: All Horned Animals”
Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson – Ableton sequence, video projections, Clavia Nord Modular Synthesizer
Simon Norris (Ossian Brown) – Clavia Nord Modular Lead Synthesizer, sleigh bells on “Anarcadia: All Horned Animals”
Cliff Stapleton – hurdy-gurdy
Mike York – Breton bagpipes, bombarde on “Anarcadia: All Horned Animals”

Danny Hyde – credited on the bill for “electronics” (live engineering)

Advertisements, Backstage or Related Promo Material

Accompanying Concert Booklet

Ticket Stubs

Venue

Game On Only Connect: Play
Barbican Centre
Silk St
London
EC2Y 8DS
UK

Gallery

AMT #1b

Robin Rimbaud on how he digitally transferred AMT #1b: “[T]his was a mighty challenge as the tapes are encoded such that every movement of the camera is recognised as a new scene so impossible to use. Once imported into Final Cut Pro every scene then jumps from one to the next. I worked with a professional video artist at first in London to help out but he also couldn’t do it. In the end I had to use a piece of outdated software that just let me recording everything recording into an old version of iTunes. This took over 3-4 weeks, multiple cable purchases, cameras off eBay, to finally get this to work…Just imported it all as one large file and then topped and tailed the video. I used a Panasonic camera with USB too and it worked great but what a challenge. Hours spent on forums and exploring downloads of software that are no longer supported for example!”

AMT #2 – Soundcheck

Gig Review(s)

The following is a review of the concert (originally published here):

Coil – Barbican, London

As part of the Barbican’s Only Connect series of shows Coil were invited to take part in the final show devoted to computer games and electronic music.

Tonight represented Coil’s third major London appearance, and marked the final date of their European tour. Tonight Coil were missing Thighpaulsandra who was absent due to Spiritualized commitments. The nucleus of John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson were as ever aided by Cyclobe’s Simon Norris on keyboards.

Coil arrived on stage in white druidic costumes shaking horse bells and carrying incense. It appeared like a purification ritual as Balance and Norris treaded the stage hooded, lead by the black clad, bearded and pipe playing Mike York in some form of pagan procession. Cliff Stapleton, the hurdy gurdy man, remained seated at the back.

The set opened with ‘Amethyst Deceivers’, backed by tapes, Balance invited the audience to pay respect to the vultures for they are your future. Coil’s slabs of electronic sound were augmented by Breton Pipes and hurdy gurdy.

Their stage set was sparse tonight. Christopherson stood behind a laptop, controlling the DVD visuals while Simon Norris concentrated on keyboards. If it wasn’t for John Balance’s spirited performance the show may have seemed somewhat limp and static compared to their previous London shows. ‘Slur’ was dedicated to Marc Almond and Nicola Bowery, wife of the late performance artist Leigh Bowery. The wailing bagpipes and constant drone of the hurdy gurdy blended surprisingly well with the Coil’s dark electronica of Horse Rotorvator.

What I believe to have been ‘Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window’ followed. This as-of-yet unreleased track is inspired by a quote lifted from their friend William S. Burroughs. Balance continued to bounce, and clap outstretching his arms to the flanks of the stage and skyward. His animated performance at times appeared to resemble some twisted industrial fitness regime was fuelled by “too much amphetamines.” With the stark visuals of ‘A Cold Cell’ Balance’s restlessness proved something of a distraction. The brutal scenes of a youth prison in the former Soviet Union effectively reflected the lyrics. The sight of skinny white kids, abused and dejected, caused a wave of silence throughout the auditorium. Were Coil trying to make a political point? The scenes could have been lifted from an Amnesty International video, although I do feel there was definitely an air of Larry Clark about these visuals. A Cold Cell definitely rated as the highpoint of the night.

Balance appeared in good spirits and even delivered some humorous poetry concerning Cher’s hair. With typical perversity Coil’s prelude to their final track paraphrased William Burrough’s Captain Clark would like to welcome you aboard. The lights dimmed and immediately flight simulator visuals appeared on the screen. Game Boy, Space Boy, Mushroom Boys went the lyrics as above on the screen a passenger aircraft flew. And crashed. Over countryside over sea and over cities with skyscrapers. Planes took-off and crashed. The obvious was never made explicit. There was no need.

Thankfully this was Coil’s only concession to the theme of the evening. On reflection this was an infuriating and confused affair cut short by the Barbican. Balance himself apologised and claimed they would have played far longer.

Over the past two years I’ve witnessed Coil live three times and although the Barbican show failed to reach the dizzying heights of previous London shows Coil’s ability to fuse the mystical past with current technology ensures all Coil performances are remarkable events.

The following is a review of the concert written by “Gyrus” (originally published here):

Mouse on Mars/Coil/Plaid (live)
Plaid’s video show
The Barbican, London
27 April 2002

Part of the Only Connect series of live events, tonight was self-described thus: “The history of computer games has also been a parallel history of the development of electronic music… This evening’s performances are less illustrations of these sounds and more works informed by this history.”

Plaid (bottom right, tiny….)Well, Plaid set the scene well. They lived up to the computer games connection by serving up music that didn’t seem substantial enough to survive as anything worthwhile without their wonderful visuals. The video projection pulses as it tracks around a space filled with cubes stretching off into the distance, some pulsing yellow in time with the zap-gun beeps and beats; iron girders touch across a shimmering backdrop to create spinning clusters of spokes whose rotations smoothly contrast with the chaos about them; a huge human eye looks around as it gets pixelated, mosaiced and otherwise digitally fragmented; a spinning mandala is revealed to be a circle of arcade consoles flicking through classics such as Defender and Donkey Kong; a simple robot arm videos the two Plaid guys as they twiddle knobs, erratically panning about their mixing board and wobbling with the vibrations.

Coil quickly burst the bleeping digital bubble. Entering to warped Gyoto-style guttural chants, with bowls of incense, white gowns, circular mirrors fringed with fluff on their chests, a couple of them with white coverings over their heads, brandishing leather straps lined with bells, they seemed even more intensely pagan than usual in contrast to the preceding incessant Electronica. Naturally, squeaks and bass rumbles were in evidence. And their luscious visuals of fungi emphasised the crystalline, almost digital quality of tryptamine hallucinations. But they weren’t about to perform some commentary on arcade game effects and the abstractions of machinic audio.

So most of their set was recent material, performed by Coil, computer games be damned. Which I had no complaints about. A hurdy-gurdy and various pipes – on top of the incense and saturated colours of the light show and visuals – gave them a very organic, often ethnic feel. Thinking back to their minimalist performance of Time Machines, it was obvious that they could do ‘digital abstraction’, of sorts – they just didn’t want to.

But as Balance asked for the stage lights to go down so the visuals could be clearly seen for the last track, and we were confronted with a flight simulator screen, it was obvious they were going to make some concession to the night’s professed theme. A deep, ominous whumph pulses away. The plane takes off. The cockpit view switches to a view of the plane. It’s a big passenger jet, soaring into digitised clouds. Balance starts wailing over the entrancing noises. It sounds very Arabic to me – maybe the ethnic strains of the bulk of their show adding emphasis. Are Coil trying to say something here? The plane plunges, and just as its nose hit the ground, it freezes, and then it’s back in the sky. A mantric lyric creeps in: “Boys will be boys / Boys will be boys / Mushroom boys / Mushroom boys / Game boys”. Soon the ground the jet’s crashing into has tall blocks of skyscrapers scattered around. The obvious isn’t depicted; it’s never obvious. The obvious lurks. There’s a creative commentary here on hi-tech games and simulation, and lo-tech terrorism and paranoia, that is unstated, oblique, profound and shocking.

Mouse On Mars I have to admit I’ve never spent any time with Mouse on Mars, as it were. I was assured they’re worth staying for, so I did. They booted up with some laughably abstract, quiet squiggles and wibbles. Some of the audience applauded with ironic enthusiasm after about a minute of it, and one of the Mice jammed his arms in the air in a mock-rock appreciation posture, which was a small moment of comic genius. Unfortunately, the next 10 minutes did nothing to make me think they would elevate beyond their “specially commissioned” meditations on computer bleepery, and I left with that helpless animated passenger jet arcing across my mind.

The following is an unknown review of this concert (that I obtained via an unmarked Microsoft Word document):

Well, what a day yesterday was, starting with an afternoon at The Horse Hospital seeing Stapleton and Tibet’s brilliant works of art and hearing their music specially composed for the occasion – I also bought the double CD of it.

This was followed by an evening at the Barbican 6 rows from the front watching Mouse on Mars (superb rythmic electronics with a really good 3-d animated graphics backdrop) Coil, (about whom more later) and Plaid (pretty good when they got the rythm going, but a lot of, IMHO, pointless electronic noodling in between. Their backdrop of graphics just seemed to be random still images).

Incidental music between the acts was provided by Scanner, and was pretty amazing stuff as well.

Coil – well, what can I say – I haven’t got a set list and my state of mind was not conducive to good short-term memory ;-). The first few numbers were old ones, and I remember a very good version of Amethyst Deceivers and also a piece of music obviously from the fabled “Wounded Galaxies” non-release. Musically, the instrumental line-up was similar to the Remote Viewer CD, which was on sale still. (I was surprised that a limited edition of 500 for this tour hadn’t already sold out!). Unfortunately I only had enough money to buy a copy for myself. The graphics Coil played to were similar to when I saw them at the second RFH concert – swirly, psychedelic but I didn’t notice any slogans amongst them – perhaps they were all subliminal.

At one point, Jhon was about to start a new song when someone from the audience came up to the stage and left something on it, calling out to them that he had done so – I think this made Jhon lose his stride – he had to walk away from the mike and they never re-started that song.

Other than that, I thoughht Coil were on very good form.

I couldn’t hang about after the concert, so I don’t knoew if Coil “Meeted and Greeted” after the show.

If anyone recorded the concert, I’d love to arrange some sort of trade with them – contact me off list.

This wonderful day was only spoiled by the fact that there were major power problems with both Underground and Mainline train services which meant that what should have been at the most a one hour journey home took just over three hours.

Attendee Recollections

Danny Hyde, the live sound mixer, remembers: “[T]hat was the only Coil gig I ever did live sound for, a skill I was very inexperienced in for sure, but Nice of Peter to give me the chance to have a go, was fun. I will always remembr it well, for obvious reasons and also because I wanted to mute instruments that were not beginning, and bring them in when needed, but something told me to leave all faders open, thank god, as all the instruments came out on different channels than we marked in the soundcheck.. Would have been nasty, band on stage, no sound…I have no memories, I was a nervous deer in headlights, Praying nothing would go wrong. 🙂 Or rather that is my memory, and feeling great when it finished, and then thinking the ‘Mouse’ act were so much louder.”

Donny Lemur attended this gig. He remembers: “I remember this gig very well. A bunch of hipsters behind me laughing and saying that Coil were shit. I’m not a violent person but I told them ‘If you don’t be quiet and show some respect, I’m going to knock you all through the fucking wall’. All 8 of them walked out. I got to enjoy the wonderful set.”

Terv Terran attended this gig. He remembers: “Now a raving convert, I next saw Coil in 2002 at the Barbican Centre. It was one great synchronius headfuck [sic] of hurdy-gurdy brilliance. Me and my cohorts were fungal strategists that night, and the extended moment that was their performance felt like it was for us and us alone.”

RileyElFunk, who attended this gig, remembers: “…the one at the Barbican (where they ran the Cold Cell video to a stunned silence) sponsored by Sony(?).”

Known Recordings

Tapes owners/taper:

AMT #1 – Recorded by Jo Trotter, produced by Robin Rimbaud
AMT #2 – Ori Succary

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