Throbbing Gristle

Highbury Roundhouse, London, England, 29 September 1977

Throbbing Gristle - Highbury

THROBBING GRISTLE are hard to categorise or describe, and they probably won't like any of the comparisons that follow, but: If you were looking at them from a Seventies art-rock cum punk/New Wave viewpoint, the closest you could get would be to say they sounded like Suicide or Pere Ubu (although they're less orthodox/rhythmic than either of these two USA groups). If you wanted to convert a hippie, you'd have to throw in references to Hawkwind and maybe a bit of the weirder Gong. For the intellectual market, name drop John Cage and Eno (for young intellectuals). Disco fans could be amused by the electronic rhythmic pulses a la Donner Summer. Ultimately, they maybe sound like a straight band trying to play a song while taped sound checks of all the aforementioned people are played over the PA and someone fiddles with a radio in the background. All of which makes them sound very unsaleable, but they're not (maybe).
I like rock'n'roll, mainly, with overtones of intelligence thrown in. This ain't rock'n'roll by any means, but I kind of like it and there's no reason why it shouldn't sell on a large scale. I mean, no one ever thought Tangerine Dream or Can would make money. But for the moment, they only get the occasional funny gig like this one (check out the Rat Club gig soon), where they played to an audience of, I dunno, maybe 20 people?
They come on and blast the audience with blazing white light which persists throughout the set and makes it difficult to look in the direction of the stage. The numbers roll from one to the next. Strange songs about licking blood and stuff, and one which tells us there'll be no rock, no boogie, no . . . They play for one hour exactly (it's timed).
After they stop, a young black kid asks another, "Ain't there any reggae tonight?" The Throbbing Gristle album will be out soon.

Sandy Robertson, Sounds, 15 October 1977

Set included:

Hit By A Rock,
Blood On The Floor,
You Here Me Here

Return to index