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SunnO))) / Phurpa (live at Meltdown)

The Royal Festival Hall, London 18 August 2015

Throat-singing. It’s the new rock and roll. Or the OLD rock and roll, if you subscribe to the theory espoused by the likes of luminaries such as Patti Smith, Julian Cope and me that a rock concert is essentially the modern variant on religious worship. Phurpa bridge this gap across time and space by playing ancient devotional Bön music (from an incredibly early form of Buddhism) in a rock setting, sat cross-legged on the floor of the Royal Festival Hall in front of an audience of metalheads.

Phurpa (Picture: Meltdown) Phurpa (Picture: Meltdown)

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Coil (live at Mind Your Head)

Jhon Balance (Picture: Mink Pelican) The Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

Following an introduction which emphasizes the psychedelic nature of the selection of musicians and bands from Glenn Maxx, the South Bank Centre’s mastermind for the Mind Your Head season, Coil emerge on stage bathed in UV light, their white costumes stark as the sine waves of their opening number, traces of the music projected visually on the giant screen behind the band. They are joined by Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions, who stand to the front as nude statues in deliberately-paced motion, palms out and impassive as the chaos of noise and light builds behind almost as slowly. The strobes kick in at brain-bending frequencies to match the electronic whirlwind, subliminal texts flicker across the screen, and John Balance dusts his hands, declaring “Electricity has made angels of

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Sigur Rós (live)

Mind Your Head Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

After a blazing performance by Coil, (which was, incidentally, their best yet which I’ve seen: completely charged with the energy one craves from Coil) I was not optimistic about seeing Sigur Ros, despite being a devoted lover of Agaetis Byrjun. Another example of a headliner being shown up by their “special guests”? Just goes to show how wonderful it is when expectations are low and surprise is at hand, for Sigur Rós delivered one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen.

There were eight of them in total, none of them looking as if they could have breached the 25 year old mark. I could not tell you a thing about their set list, as I had never heard most of the songs they played and couldn’t understand them if I knew the titles. Singing in what

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Faust (live at The Royal Festival Hall)

An angle, grinding London 12 October 2001

ZappiGiven that this appearance by Faust marks both their 100th live performance since the group’s reformation in 1993 and possibly their final show, it’s somehow appropriate that the emergency services soon became involved once again.

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Faust Wakes Nosferatu

Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre, London 25th October 2000

Faust were originally asked to improvise a live score to F.W. Murnau‘s classic expressionist retelling of the Dracula story for an outdoor vampire film festival in Germany a few years back. For some reason the promotors asked them to perform to the silent film twice on the same bill; the generators failed, rain loomed, disaster threatened. Still, they survived the experience, recorded an album as Faust Wakes Nosferatu, and made a few more performances as time allowed. Now, as the last of the Outro series marking the departure of David Sefton from the artistic helm of the South Bank Centre, Faust open the first night of their gruelling UK tour of the show in the Royal Festival Hall.

Bringing up the introduction to the film itself, the band settle into a warming-up routing of metal percussion, organ swarms, plucked and

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Pere Ubu (live)

The Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre, London 27th September 2000

Performing for their 25th anniversary, Pere Ubu delivered such a marvelous performance as to bring me around to wondering why I don’t listen to this band everyday. And why are they not lauded as the one of the best of the last quarter century? Why is Pere Ubu not a household word? Just as well really, as they do inspire that very possessive cult underground sort of attitude among their fine stock of fans. Not many other bands since could dismiss their powerful influence, and most worth a shit have happily given credit where credit is due.

However up and down the reception of Pere Ubu has been over the last 25 years, the Royal Festival Hall definitely got a good dose of the up. Dave Thomas led the band through an alphabetical play list of all the best

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Coil/Nectarine No.9/Foetus (live)

Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre, London 19th September 2000

For their third live performance in a year after the seventeen of build-up, Coil arrive onstage dressed in unlaced grey strait-jackets, backed by a neon sign proclaimng the title of the night’s performance, Persistance Is All. The multiple possible meanings of this slogan soon becomes apparent, as the playback of Jhon Balance‘s spoken title beat which opens “Something” fills the “Royal” Festival Hall. The group are backed by a circling corona of fire on the projection screen which soon becomes the visual focus for the set, and this develops into a hypnagogic kaleidoscope show of the first water, trickling retinal patterns like the strongest hallucinogen to the trip-kicking music. Not that drugs are necessary; it’s far more a state of mind on offer through the combination of light and sonic textures – or Colour, Sound, Oblivion as the flashed-up message

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Cornucopea – Two South Bank Evenings With Julian Cope

Anal; Ash Ra Tempel; Brain Donor; Coil; Julian Cope; Groundhogs; Kid Strange; Queen Elizabeth The South Bank Centre, London 1st-2nd April 2000

Since this two-day festival in the South Bank Centre is essentially Julian Cope‘s entry in the venue’s largely excellent series of Mini-Meltdowns, it probably comes as no surprise that he is seemingly omnipresent, playing solo twice, and collaboratively in the guise of both Brain Donor and Queen Elizabeth. This could easily have been something of an ordeal for those not of the fanlike persuasion for this most eccentric and Rock of eccentric Rock stars, but thankfully there was much to be admired and enjoyed at Cornucopea – the brightly psychedelic esoteric symbolism on dispay in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the first night (all too appropriately run on All Fool’s Day); the marvellously Tardis-sized starry-print, fake-fur Disco booth of the Miniscule Of Sound, a superb

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