Throbbing Gristle - Manchester
When I was watching Throbbing Gristle where were you?
A barely half full Factory Club was all that the most interesting four people in the country could manage to draw. A strangely mixed audience ranging from bikers to Bryan Ferry lookalikes stared blankly at Throbbing Gristle for three quarters of an hour. A few did seem to be genuinely impressed although I fear that most of them gained nothing from the experience except boredom.
Gristle are, I hasten to add, my favourite group of people at the moment. I admit to being a great fan. I'm enticed and intrigued by Genesis P-Orridge's morbid, heartless and yet undistorted vision of life. The fearful fact is that he doesn't fantasise or distort. He merely reports and although he's looking in a completely different direction to the rest of us, the things he sees are very, very real.
But Throbbing Gristle are dogged by one huge problem. The trouble is that they are a band of the moment. They can only report the way they feel and the things they see at that exact moment. If they feel blank and empty then their set is going to be blank and empty. This is honesty taken to the extreme and although it is pretty self-destructive it can only be admired. This honesty also means that nobody can predict the groups next move. Throbbing Gristle's greatest failure is that they cannot see their future, nothing is planned, that makes T.G. so exciting and so free from the trappings of every rock band.
At this gig they did play one previously recorded song, 'Hamburger Lady', complete with its chilling and bleak atmospherics and quietly intense vocals. Orridge smiled with sadistic authority at the, er, song's finish. For he knew that the rest of the set wouldn't rely on past glories. Oh and everyone was just dying to hear them play 'United' or 'Dead On Arrival'.
Although T.G. couldn't manage to really affect me in any way on this night, they remain delicate, dangerous and definitely unique. An absurd alternative to rock 'n' roll. A shifting sound. Beware of imitations
Mick Middles, Sounds, 2 June 1979