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Psychic TVPsychic TV
Astoria, London
Saturday October 7 2006

 

 

Sometime wrecker of civilization, enthusiastic noise generator, walking art project and unlikely pop star, Genesis P-Orridge is back.

This time round, he's dressed up like the long-lost sister of Courtney Love, and he's intent on tweaking our psychedelic synapses with some far-out sounds from this latest, and perhaps most accessible, incarnation of Psychic TV. How can we resist? Our psyches are yours to manipulate, Gen. Go for it, mate.

Video images flicker, sounds shudder. Psychic TV might be a pop group these days, but they still enjoy a good old gambol in the left field. You want multimedia weirdness? They got it.

The big screen shows us excerpts from the P-Orridge home movie collection. Footage from Genesis and his partner Lady Jaye's medical procedures, as they move ever closer to their holy state of pandrogeny, collides with disarmingly knockabout sequences of the band larking around backstage. We even get interludes of Genesis travelling on the New York subway, which might not seem particularly fascinating in itself: after all, anyone can travel on the New York subway. Ah, but when Genesis P-Orridge does it, it's art.

And, of course, we get the music. Psychic TV's current sound is far from the in-yer-face challenge of the earlier, wilfully experimental versions of the band. It's more distant still from the proto-industrial bash and blare of Throbbing Gristle, which was, of course, Genesis P-Orridge's previous incarnation.

The TG connection neatly explains why a good chunk of tonight's crowd comprises extravagantly pierced industrialists, all ready to get down to the psychedelic groove. It's odd, in a way, to find Psychic TV so revered by the diehard industrial heads - I'm sure, if it was anyone else but Genesis making Psychic TV's kind of music, they wouldn't be half so interested. Because, somewhat incongruously, these days Psychic TV sound like the Beach Boys crossed with the Jesus And Mary Chain. That, by the way, is a good thing - at least, the way Psychic TV do it is good. But it must be said we're a long way from the grunt 'n' thud industrial zone.

The performance itself is a good-humoured collection of mutant-surf singalongs and excursions into psychedelic pop, all implacably nailed to a noir-ish post-punk rock sound which, occasionally, takes off into extended bouts of tight and thunderous rhythmic workouts. The band is a well-drilled unit, at ease in each other's company, instinctively sparking off each other, exchanging grins and quips as they play.

Genesis, an amiable glam auntie, all gold-plated smiles and slightly unsettling bonhomie, picks up a bass and a beer bottle, and gives us some of his Psychic TVcelebrated 'noise bass' playing. But even here, backed to the hilt by the band, things don't get out of control. The noise is just one element in the psychedelic razzle-dazzle, not an end in itself. Bizarre though it may seem, Psychic TV's transformation into a nifty alternopop outfit works rather well.

Although the set is somewhat light on the old favourites ('Black Cat' and 'Roman P' crop up; 'Godstar' is conspicuous by its absence) and more heavily biased towards songs from the as-yet unrealeased new album, every number is received with raptures from the extravagantly pierced industrialists.

It's all a bit surreal: a three-way collision between the reputation and past history of Psychic TV's main protagonist, the heavy-duty industrial crowd, and the nimble psyche-punk of the band. But somehow it all hangs together, and I suspect Genesis himself thrives on exactly this kind of strange-bedfellows propinquity.

It's an odd thought that, as we galumph into the 21st century, Psychic TV have reinvented themselves as probably our greatest garage band.

 

Essential links:

Psychic TV: Website | MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find Psychic TV by name here.

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