Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wishful Thinking: In Remembrance of Peter Christopherson - Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle: 17th March 2012

Sticking with the north east of England, myself and a friend were up in Newcastle a couple of weekends ago for an event at The Tyneside Cinema - "Wishful Thinking: In Remembrance of Peter Christopherson" - which was an evening of music, performance and film centred around aspects of the work of  he who was ex-Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Coil, SoiSong etc. etc. who passed on in November 2010.

The evening began a little confusingly with three pieces called "Evocatio (Air & Metal, Muscle & Spit)", "Re-Man Unkind" and "Wishful Thinking Redux" which, I believe, consisted partly of sketches from an unfinished work commissioned of Christopherson and producer Paul Smith by The AV International Festival of Art, Technology and Music and Film and which was based on and intended to be staged at Durham Cathedral to mark the Spring 2012 Equinox, his father having been Vice-Chancellor and Warden at the city's university throughout the sixties and seventies and the environment, therefore, having had quite a significant effect upon shaping the young "Sleazy". Interwoven with this was recordings made at the cathedral by Chris Watson, as well as a live vocal contribution by Attila Csihar who was seated at a table strewn with candles, as well as the obligatory laptop, and who provided something rather like a more abstract and electronically treated Gregorian chant from somewhere deep down inside his rather sizeable torso. Behind him, projected onto the screen, was a stream of mesmerising imagery by Alex Rose and, at one point, a creature with features covered by a head-dress and draped in fairy lights shuffled around the room delivering a repeated recorded message, stopping rather sinisterly every few steps along the periphery of the audience. It was all very atmospheric and evocative, I must say, especially the bells which opened and closed the procedings and which hopefully evoked the spirit of the man in whose honour we were all assembled.

Chris & Cosey followed, performing some mixes from the final Throbbing Gristle album, a cover of Nico's "Desertshore", which Christopherson was working on when he died and the completion of which, I believe, has now passed into their hands, and a real thrill this turned out to be, the original album being one of my very favourites, anyway, but now being given a new life by this lot. Again, seated at a pair of laptops - miming were they? - who knows or cares? - and backed by an image projected behind them - this time a film made with a static camera of a beach near their home where, Cosey told us, they used to take Sleazy on his visits and where he would eat a bag of seaside chips which he so missed, living out in Thailand - they began by playing a version of "Abschied" on which the vocals were provided by none other than  Blixa Bargeld in the absence of Ms. Breyer-Orridge, this grinding along eerily and in a very stately fashion, retaining some of the tone of Nico's original whilst having the TG stamp all over it. Next was a superbly elongated version of "Le Petit Chevalier" which I felt was verging on the disco, although sounding as though refracted through a factory floor, and which had a number a people visibly twitching in their seats. Here, little Ari's vocals were replaced by the rather trollish rasp of Argentinian filmmaker Gaspar Noe which worked wonderfully. I should add, however, that none of these vocalists were actually present, performing live - that would have been really something! - but were emanating out of the aforementioned duo's laptops. Cosey did, though, provide live vocals next on "All That Is My Own" which was superb and perfectly suited to her unique echoing timbre which here was almost choirboy-like. She also provided live cornet, which is always a treat, on the fourth extract "Janitor of Lunacy" where the voice was this time provided by Antony Hegarty, suggesting that this album will contain all of the promise of Vince Clarke's, unfortunately, never fully realised The Assembly project of 1983 with its host of guest vocalists, several of whom must be still to be revealed. They then finished with a non-cover where a collage of the voices of those Christopherson held dear to him drift in and out repeating the words "meet me on a desert shore" over a simple, echoey piano riff. It all promises to be extremely good when it gets completed and released later this year.

The evening then moved into its second half, beginning with a very rare showing of "La Cicatrice Interieure" in which Nico appeared wandering around with assorted men in various states of undress, whilst screaming, wailing and moaning a  great deal, also throwing herself on the ground on several occasions in childish exasperation. It's all very poetically shot, though, in an almost lunar, desert landscape so was worth every second spent watching it. It also features a number of songs from the original "Desertshore" album and a still from it graced the record's sleeve, as anyone who knows anything about Nico could readily tell you. Events then finished with two Derek Jarman films, each with a soundtrack provided wholly or partly by Coil, "A Journey to Avebury" and "The Angelic Conversation", neither of which I'd previously seen on a big screen and which were, again, well worth the trip up north for alone. When it all finished at midnight, there weren't many people left in the cinema, as it did take rather a lot of staying power I imagine if you're not a fully committed fan, especially for a Saturday night. The whole event was completely amazing, in my view, and also that of my travelling companion.

Here are some photographs I took of Chris & Cosey which aren't brilliant but give a flavour of what it was like.

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