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Psychic TV
Blondes have more fun?
By Ivor Crotty
"Confusion is next and next after that is the truth" (Sonic Youth)

In keeping with the theme of the evening that was in it I should like to put on record that in writing this I resented having to refer to the singer's genders.

Saturday night. Given that IKRA was only ? full, it seems reasonable to suggest that you won't find many local music fans extolling the virtues of Psychic TV. You'll also find very few journalists who convey the live essence of Psychic TV without throwing in a history lesson and a brief sociological treatise on gender construction and Marshall McLuhan. Sounds confusing, but deconstructionism as a way of life was never going to be simple but the idea rests upon the notion that in every parody, however absurd, there is an element of truth, and it is here that Psychic TV front "person" Genesis P-Orridge walks the line.

See? Beard-scratching already. Cultural theory and shamanism are wonderful things but for connoisseurs of live music, four-to-the-floor meat'n'two veg men such as myself, its important to note that Psychic TV does exactly what it says on the tin. They play live, and they rock.

Having taken in their 2 hour white-noise psychedelic brain-melter, including power cuts, appropriate "paint-it-black" ad-libbing and (ahem) "a song about Tibet", I suggest music lovers put-off by the OTT New-York-Dolls style posturing of singer and yes, silicon implant transgender cross-dresser, the aforementioned Mr. P-Orridge, close their eyes and enjoy the music next time because this was great.

The pleasantly broad cross section of chilled-out punters laughing and chatting before the gig belied the sonic intensity and identity politics soap-boxing to come. It really was very relaxed. The 6 piece ambled amiably onstage while sampled bits'n'bytes chopped from the ether reminded us of our over saturated media age etc etc. and having re-tuned everything, they promptly kicked, and I mean the kind of kick that only good rock bands and mules do, into Hell is Invisible, and we were off - God help us all.

The sound was spot-on, warm, driven, yet delicately balanced so Genesis could still sound like Perry Farrell through a delay pedal while the band strutted and nodded, heads down, rocking. The crowd loved it and without further ado we were into a drawn out 3 movement 15 minute cheesy psychedelic Hammond organ vibe, punctuated by a superb white noise blow out, and in a time of cultural and political devastation in America, we were told that we were loved. Good news then and all in half an hour. By now audience members were randomly hugging each other, sharing the vibe, opening up and having fun.

As is so often the case though, the powerful visuals sometimes distracted from the quality of the playing and the music in general, Genesis' infatuation with his and her body was over-simplified and it was pleasantly surprising to close one’s eyes and be reminded of the obvious quality on show here. Organ, samples, guitar, base, drums and vocals all combined seamlessly as the video art advertised the appropriate message for each moment – everything was possible but nothing was real.

Genesis, striking Brian Jones blond in halter neck and heels, impressed with a 2 ? octave vocal range, reminding all gathered that we were dealing with a vastly experienced performer here. And while the video and samples asked us to consider beauty, enhancement or mutilation, or both, and while Genesis paraded as only a 6ft transgender peroxide blond with Pamela Anderson breasts can, it was still rock'n'roll. Snarling and pouting like Johnny Rotten, recalling Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon in her more hurt and vulnerable characterizations, and revealing those ridiculous silicon breasts, (s)he was hard to ignore.

The point, however, was not what Genesis did or didn't do, wear, say or hear, what he or she is or isn't, nor is it the nauseating media saturation thing. The point, at a live show, is the music and the vibe, and this was great rock'n'roll. Somewhat in the spirit of Jane's Addiction, Spaceman 3, the Doors, Mudhoney even, and laced with early British rockadelica, Psychic TV demonstrated an impressive tightness and musical versatility while evincing an infectious sense of fun.

The power cuts came, thankfully, between songs, pointing to incompetence somewhere in the crew (slap on the wrist for someone there). While the Paint it Black ad lib went down well, one particularly inebriated local did engage Genesis in some 'gay banter' as it were, (response "I'm so glad I don't speak Russian"), while a necklace was proffered to the singer from elsewhere in the audience. Balanced, thus.

(S)He's got it down pat though; to a tee even. Gripping the mic-stand as only rock'n'rollers do, eyes closed and just, giving it loads, Genesis in full flight reminded me of those primordial moments when Jim Morrison, or even Perry Farrell would disappear into themselves onstage and in doing so, take us all with them - into their charisma - their ritual. Performers for whom the bond with the audience was ecstatic – where they once and for all, were truly in the moment.

In short - great music, dynamic, powerful, and delivered with aplomb.

But with Genesis, for me at least, though (s)he gave it loads, though (s)he stands there and takes the hecklers ("Did you say 'biscuits'?!" our heckler was asked), it only went skin deep. While greats work through and resolve their issues through performance, others seek attention for its own sake and end up performing their issues, and its here I feel the Psychic TV experience falls down somewhat. For some, the irrelevancy of conventions merely contributes to their bemusement at their own notoriety. Others however, seek to re-create a blueprint, and in this respect Psychic TV walks the line. Original? Or a rehash cabaret of punk rock's greatest moments since 1968? Possibly neither, though they could be both.

I suggest you decide next time you get a chance. Just remember to close your eyes.

19.09.07
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