Samuel Beckett, Throbbing Gristle, and a month of fun

Blog by RJ Thomson | 04 Jun 2009
  • Throbbing Gristle

You can use an editorial for all sorts of things, from ranting to enthusing, inspiring to pretending you care about shit you blatantly don’t. This month I’m in practical mood, so will rather serve to preview a couple of brilliant-looking events that didn’t quite make it into the rest of the mag.

The first is on Saturday 13th, at the Grosvenor cinema in Edinburgh, where near-legendary publisher John Calder will be giving a talk alongside a screening of Samuel Beckett’s only film work, called with typically confident lack of flair – Film (14.00, free). Although the film is by no means a masterpiece on a par with his theatrical or literary highpoints, it is a fascinating work with an equally fascinating backstory: Beckett was on set throughout, and the starring role was played by none other than Buster Keaton.

Calder - who published authors including Beckett, influential Scottish troublemaker Alexander Trocchi, and who introduced the controversial William S Burroughs to the UK market, fighting for freedom of speech in the courts as he did so - is a great character in his own right, and a very good storyteller as well as an insightful commentator.

Only a few days later, the unique and brilliant Throbbing Gristle arrive at Tramway for their first ever Scottish performance (17 June, 20.00, £20). Their recent tour of America was praised as a triumph (and featured a tour-exclusive CD on sale), and listening to recordings of live shows from their 70s heyday it’s clear they’ve always had a simultaneously full-on and yet subversive take on presenting themselves. If you’ve never heard of the band it’s hard to know what’ll sell you on attending, but I would comfortably put TG up there with Kraftwerk, Suicide, and Afrika Bambaataa as among the most influential early electronic music producers. Should be epic.

Promoted by the ever imaginative Optimo, the event also features a DJ set from internationally-celebrated visual artist Cerith Wyn Evans, ahead of his coming display at Tramway later this year. He already has a show on at Inverleith House in Edinburgh, highlighted in our Art section.

There are all kinds of festivals on this month, and we’re covering as many as we can. The West End Festival, Leith Festival, and Kelburn Garden Party all get a mention (look under 'Heads Up' and 'Clubs' for more info). The Edinburgh International Film Festival has all the stars, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal, and Sir Sean Connery all expected in town for the event. However, we take a look at the more ‘budget’ side to this year’s programme with our B-movie-tastic feature.

Altogether more of a wild one, Rock Ness has all The Skinny team flexing their rave muscles in anticipation. The line-up is more balanced than previous years though, with Flaming Lips, Super Furries and Steve Mason all providing attractive psychedelic vibes to complement the euphoric highs that’ll greet much the line-up (we have a word with both Gruff Rhys and Mason in our 'Music' section). Of the dance acts, there’s a wealth of big-time talent to choose from, from April cover-stars The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx – whose new single Raindrops is a Gang Gang Dance gone pop-like return to form – and the live-magicians Orbital. This month we interview these latter (Orbital), and Barcelona-residing Glaswegian techno meist Funk D’Void (he’s also playing the festival, along with a full host of Soma-stable beatmakers).

It’s always nice when people relax a bit. A good example of this was on the homepage of the Rock Ness site where for a while, they were running a classic clip of Orbital playing Chime at Glastonbury. Who cares that Glasto is nominally a ‘rival’ event? Of course people have played great sets there; and this vid only served to support the idea that Orbital are going to tear it up in the Highlands this month.

But there are plenty of people who would balk at that kind of ‘off-brand’ promotional activity. One of the voices to the contrary, a man who favours collaboration, leadership and adventure as core tenets of his business, is Seth Godin, the influential American whose blog I have previously recommended here. Recently I interviewed him, and heard what he had to say about taking the initiative during challenging times.

I’ve saved the bragging ‘til the end, but hopefully you've noticed our spangly new website design (with all sorts of handy new features on top of the stylistic tweakery). Seriously now, if websites were cars, ours would be K.I.T.T. off of Knightrider.