Sunday, October 08, 2006

PTV3 / Pram / The Courtesy Group Birmingham Barfly Friday 6th October 2006

No new update for two weeks...aaaagghhh...naughty Baron, where does the time go? Well I have man flu, the ongoing demolition of Baron Towers and other nonesense to blame. So there. Anway, I am going to take you on a journey. A journey that goes back to the mid 80's. A time before t'net. A time when exploring the vast musical landscape meant getting off your arse and trapsing round record shops or fairs and punting your hard earned cash on stuff you'd never heard before. It was a simpler time (cue violins and sepia tinted film) when you'd use one band's influences and collaborations to give you a new band to explore. Thus, via a thing for all things Marc Almond, I entered the world of a certain Mr Genesis P.Orridge. The more I got to know about him the more splendid he became. I won't attempt to try to do him justice here, but there's a good write up on him on Wikipedia. Suffice to say that, amongst many other highlights, he has been a respected artist, invented Industrial music, studied undr William Burroughs, played a leading role in Acid House music, started a cult (of sorts) and been hounded out of the UK by a media witchhunt lead by Channel 4. As I say, a splendid character. Back in my dim and distant student days I nearly saw him (and Psychic TV) live, but as none of my fellow students felt like going to see someone who decided to name himself after a type of breakfast cereal, I didn't go. Then he fled the country and has remained an infrequent visitor to the UK ever since (even though the accusations of satanism that forced him to leave in the '90's were long since dropped).

His latest art project is himself and his good lady wife, Lady Jaye. The idea is that he wants to look like her...and vice versa. It's a pandrogeny thing. He already has the boobs, lips, hair and eyes. Now this may freak most people out. Big time. Personally I think it's utterly fantastic. As indeed was this whole evening.

Openers The Courtesy Group (from dear old Brum) have the whole shouty man thing that make The Fall so charming down to a fine art. They also have a wonderful Chinese guitarist, Hidehiko, who's musical ability acts as a wonderful counterpoint to the often slightly shambolic vocal delivery - this is all good. Lead singerAl Hutchins is also a poet and the whole set was interspersed with ramblings about the number 11 bus and the like. Brilliant, unique and set to get even better.

Pram were up next. According to Mike from Swordfish (Birmingham's number one record emporium) they've been around for about 20 years. And he knows his music. They reminded me a little of Stereolab and Broadcast, but with a bit more wibbliness...and a theramin. As I've said before, every band needs a...yes you know because you've been paying attention haven't you? Cool. With a capital C. And L.

Okay, as you can imagine from the start of this review I was sort of looking forward to the next band. In fact I had waited 20 years for this. They were due to play last year at the Summersonic festival in Birmingham but there was a bomb scare...a bomb scare I tell you...I was not a happy puppy. As with anything that you look forward to, I was also a little apprehensive. Would it be any good? Would Mrs Baron run out screaming in terror? Would the rest of the audience turn out to be devil worshipping nut jobs? Stay tuned when the review that time forget returns after a short break...

...that's better. It builds the tension doesn't it? PTV 3 came on like a band with business to do. That's always a good sign. Then Mr P.Orridge entered, stage left. A vision in camo tights, black bra and nice little jacket. Opener Black Cat featured much meeowing and was, dare I say it catchy. As was 90% of the rest of the 1 hour 30 minutes set. Genesis was using a kind of theramin ring sort of thing, with which he 'played' the audience. The closer it gets to you or any 'hard' object the higher the pitch. The acid test? Even Mrs B jigged about a bit. Now that's praise indeed. Granted the music and lyrics aren't likely to get your average James Blunt fan moist, but then that's the point. This is music and performance for people who like to be challenged a little as well as entertained. The gig finished and Mrs B went off to powder her nose. I, harbouring a secret desire to meet Mr P. O, loitered around the dressing room door looking shifty. I'd met the bass player Alice and stood next to the lovely Mrs P.O, but had kind of given up when Markus, the keyboard player spotted me, had a quick chat and invited me into the inner sanctum. So, in we went, opening the door to come face to face with Gen him/herself. Surreal. They say you should never meet your heroes / heroines, but it's never been anything but a pleasure for me. Gen was charming. Despite being pestered by a sweet but slightly drunk character who had met Gen the night before, got him/her to sign his chest and had the signature tattooed on the following day - I kid you not dear reader - he was a delight and chatted to us for a good 10 minutes or so. Highlights? Admitting that his/her gold teeth had cost $30,000, confiding that, since the boob job, more women had hit on him than ever before because he was 'exotic' and bashing his boobs against Mrs B's (they're quite bouncy she says). He came across like a dear old Aunt, or a mixture of Quentin Crisp, John Lydon and Kenneth Williams...just super company.

He is a national treasure and should be Knighted / Damed as soon as possible. Arise Sir / Dame Genesis Breyer P. Orridge that's what I say. Thanks to Gen and the crew for making us feel so welcome and giving us a damn fine evening. There, that's a review and a half. I'm going for a lie down now.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping this blog alive. I was just reminiscing about this very gig, unable to remember quite what year it had been and you came to the rescue. From the past. I'd been a fan for a long time, travelled down to that london for the comeback/final gig at the festival hall and slept in a doorway before getting the coach home. Nearly saw them at supersonic the year of the bomb scare, and then saw them right here in my home town. They were fucking awesome. There - that's what I call a review :) AWJ

The Baron said...

Cheers AWJ,I love it when I get a comment on stuff from ages ago, the power of the internet eh? It was, it has to be said, "fucking awesome"! I couldn't agree more.