- Neil Cooper
- 11 June 2009
Tramway, Glasgow, Wed 17 Jun
When Throbbing Gristle issued a communiqué in 1981 announcing that ‘the mission is terminated’, it looked like the last self-destructive flourish by the UK’s premier avant-provocateurs. Sired from underground performance art troupe COUM Transmissions in a not so united kingdom whose crumbling grey cities teetered on the verge of collapse, Throbbing Gristle’s confrontationalist electronic extremes looked and sounded like a dress rehearsal for the civil unrest that would erupt that summer. The nascent TG had long been damned as ‘wreckers of civilisation’ by Tory MP Nicholas Fairburn following a tabloid-baiting turn at London’s ICA. It was a label that stuck.
When Chris Carter, Peter Christopherson, Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti reconvened 23 years later, then, for the Industrial music and Noise community TG had birthed by way of off-shoot projects, Psychic TV, Coil and Chris and Cosey, the succession of live dates and recording of the limited edition TG Now’ release and 2007 album, Part Two: The Endless Not was the biggest shock of all. Similar sensations followed the announcement of TG’s first ever Scottish date, which will see them perform a live score for a new film by artist Cerith Wyn Evans prior to a second half greatest none-hits set.
This is a major coup for Tramway, as last time any of TG appeared this side of the border was via a solo Edinburgh outing by P-Orridge playing to backing tapes at the old Café Royal function room almost a decade ago. Since then, death, body-modification and a prevailingly conscious sense of taboo-busting have made this revived TG look like elder states-people of a fecund noise scene still facing up to industry resistance. Yet, for a band whose entire lifespan has been one experiment, Throbbing Gristle still stand alone.