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Psychic TV
By Erik Jansma
Going to Ikra last Thursday, I wasn’t sure about what I could expect. My friend, a dedicated fan of Psychic TV, assured me that things would be fine, but I had my doubts. After all, it was him who told me to go and see Current 93 two weeks ago, and I was thankful that I didn’t have to review it. For those who don’t know yet, Current 93 a.k.a. David Tibet was a member of Psychic TV in their forming years 1979-1983. If Psychic TV anno 2006 would be anything similar, I would be off for an early sleep and that walk from home in the rain would have been for nothing.

Once in at 10:30, there was enough time to meet friends and have a drink, as we got informed that the gig wouldn’t start before 11 for certain. It didn’t take long to find out that the band had been stuck in a traffic jam from Sheremetyevo. Sure, they had reached Ikra, but were stashing their personal belongings somewhere safe as there was no time to stop at the hotel first. At 11 I was told that the band was kicking it back in the dressing room with some bottles of wine and that the collective hadn’t had a proper sleep for three days already. Were we set for an acoustic set, drenched in wine and fatigue?

Friday the 13th was only minutes away when, finally, the band made it to the stage. Not at all in a hurry, Genesis P-Orridge, once front-man but on his way to be a leading lady, greeted the crowd in diva style and hushed for silence. An impressive gig began as the first notes set in. It was, indeed, going to be fine….

It is a well-known fact that PTV has a cult-like following all over the world, but it wasn’t just their prerogative to enjoy something that can only be described as a solid, creative, mind-blowing performance. Although all band members, expect GP-O, are relatively new, they perform like a unity, even a family. No stale and nostalgic sounds here, though the flavour is very 1960s, very psychedelic. It all sounds like a band that drew a line at 1969 for musical influences and then developed it in their own way. Moreover, the music sounds like something that younger bands like Sonic Youth and The Dandy Warhols pursued but never got completely: it’s rawer, more original and utterly addictive. And GP-O surely has found herself some fine mercenaries.

Not only are the band members well played-in, they all are allowed to have their moments on stage, supported by GP-O, who is at those times prepared to step back and take another sip of (hopefully Chilean) wine. Bass player Alice Genese has enough charisma to start her own career but looks like she feels at home in this warm and weird Warhol-like collective, just as her colleagues. Towards the end of the gig, though, she ceases a moment when she invites the whole audience to dance with her. Everyone does, including the band and PG-O, to an early era electro beat, produced by Lady Jaye behind the sample device. Then, the timpani (!) sticks of drummer Mo Edley take over once again, producing heavy and tight beats in the same way that these beats gave shape to cacophonies earlier during the set.

The set is a combination of old, new and recycled material. The whole set is accompanied by video material, displayed on a large screen on the podium. We see the band members and entourage during recording sessions, GP-O walking her dog and during his/her sex-change operations. This is mixed with more avant-garde material but radiates art, psychedelics and intimacy, re-affirming the oddly family-like look & feel or the band. By the look and sound of it, they still have a prosperous future ahead of them. PTV fan or not, if you missed this one, I feel really sorry for you!

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