Going Up

Jhonn Balance on stage, Dublin 2004

What a strangely moving day it was yesterday, and all thanks to work that people had put out one way or another.

Above is a song from the band Coil, from their last gig, in Dublin in 2004. Please do give it a watch, I found it very moving (close to tears watching it). Coil were a band which meant a lot to me in the 1980s. They clearly remained serious about what they were doing till the end. They were the band I connected with the most out of the “psychic punk” underground (for want of a better term). They were open about their gayness (their founding members were a gay male couple) and their committed interests in magick, and they were extraordinarily creative. At times, as here, they could evoke a hauntingly religious atmosphere.

Jhonn Balance on stage, Dublin 2004

still of Jhonn Balance on stage 2004, from video

The fact that this was their last gig makes it all the more poignant, and even more so that by the end of the year Jhonn Balance would be taken by a tragic accident. Six years later Peter Christopherson died in his sleep, but there was not going to be a Coil after Jhonn. Now they are both gone. But this recorded gig is transcendent, suffused with a sadness and wonder, tension, beauty, intimated release. It aches, for me anyway.

When I heard what this song was a cover of I was amazed. I laughed, I was delighted. If you could make that into this, what are all the supposed distinctions between Christian and Buddhist and Pagan and Muslim, or between religious and profane, even meant to signify? What are you not going to take seriously? Where is the stuff of it at?

In the evening we watched a film on TV that I had really been wanting to see, called “Calvary”. It is set in Eire, in the shadow of the child abuse scandal of the Catholic Church, and the main character is played by Brendan Gleeson, who I really like as an actor, and who gives a truly fine performance. It was immensely watchable as a  film, and I found it deeply moving. It would be an understatement to say that it stays with you.


Brendan Gleeson in “Calvary” – still from trailer

I don’t often see a depiction of a priest that affects me so much.

And that Coil song was a cover of this.


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