In lots of the early info sheets (and interviews) they said they were going to do “some live dates”, “a heavy metal tour”, “high and low profile shows”, a “JAMs world tour in 1989” and so on, but none of these seem to have happened as info sheets 6 and 8 state that their premier live performance was:
31st July 1989 Land Of Oz, Heaven, London
“…they were making their debut live performance at the London Club HEAVEN. The performance consisted of a 15 minute version of “WHAT TIME IS LOVE”. During which they splattered their audience with polystyrene pellets fired from a giant wind machine. The event was deemed a strange success.” This is the live version included on JAMS LP4 – The What Time is Love? Story.
Infosheet six then says that “the lads have done a few impromptu live performances (as K.L.F. not The JAMs). These will develop in their own way, but please don’t expect regular gigs”. Info Sheet 11 says “the huge orbital raves, at which The KLF became a regular live attraction, blasting their audience with polystyrene pellets some weeks, showering them with Scottish pound notes at others.” Apparently there was a club date at which some sheep appeared on stage too.
30th Sept 1989 (date from infosheet) Woodstock 2, Brixton Academy, London
“They will be in full effect (lasers, smoke, go go dancers etc.) at Woodstock 2 at The Academy in Brixton on Sept. 30th, in the illustrious company of Liz Torres, Corporation of One, Lollita Holloway, Frankie Bones, Little Louie Vega and more!”
30th Sept 1989 Helter Skelter, Oxfordshire
Matthew Collin’s book ‘Altered State – The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House’ (Serpent’s Tail, London, New York, ISBN 1-85242-3777-3, UKP 10.99, www.serpentstail.com) is a MUST read. But surprisingly perhaps it only mentions the KLF once, on page 105, describing a live appearance on September the 30th 1989: “To the north of London, the Helter Skelter party brought an awesome line up of performers to a muddy plough field in Oxfordshire. The incongruity was sweet, seeing these house icons climbing up a rickety ladder onto the back of a flat bed lorry – in open farmland! – to sing and play. … There were post-punk pranksters, The KLF, who demanded their UKP 1000 fee upfront, in Scottish pound notes, upon each of which they scribbled the message “we love you children” before throwing them to the crowd, a dress rehearsal for their burning of 1 million pounds in a situationist art statement a few years later. Despite the drizzle and the turn-out (only 4000!), the mood was elevated.”
January 1990 Energy, Brixton Academy, London
One list member, writing in 1997 recalls he was there: “not sure if it is the gig you are refferring to as woodstock-2, but I did attend a show at the Brixton Acad sometime around 89/90, where the KLF did play (even carried a sheep with them – or at least caused a big pre-gig fuss by proclaiming that they were bringing in a load) – …. heard them though, but just a tad-busy at the time to bother getting up to view them – an ambientish-set if my mind serves me correctly…. not sure if it is the same show though – pretty sure frankie-b played – again very, very mashed up at the time…..”
Feb? 1990 Bootle? Kirby? Community Hall?, Liverpool
The KLF joined the Ian McCulloch-less Echo and the Bunnymen who were playing a benefit concert for a community centre, for an encore of What Time Is Love? which became the record version later that year.
Early July 1990 Isle of Rhodes, Greece
This live appearance has been mentioned on the KLF mailing list, but no details about it are known. Info sheet nine announces “as usual there will be the odd unannounced performances. The only official one will be happening on The Isle of Rhodes in early July.” Bearing in mind all the false promises in the past, whether or not these took place is a matter of conjecture.
Late Oct 1990 DMC Convention, Paradiso, Amsterdam
“THE KLF are at the centre of a controversy again after causing a disturbance during the Disco Mix Club’s European Convention at Amsterdam’s Paradiso Club. During one of their public appearances, as headline act at the DMC Convention, the notorious pranksters decided to ‘liberate’ the organiser’s equipment and re-distribute it to the audience. Reports say they were coming to the end of a 23 minute version of their hit ‘What Time is Love?’ when Bill Drummond decided to give the Technics decks, mixers and other sound gear away to fans in the crowd. Organisers were forced to step in to try and retrieve the equipment as security staff clashed with Drummond himself. As the melee developed, Drummond’s partner Jimmy Cauty allegedly blew up the mixing desk. Most of the equipment was salvaged, but not surprisingly the KLF have been banned from the Dutch venue.”
Late Dec 1990 Rage, Heaven, London
“It’s the day after the all night video shoot [3am Eternal embankment version] and The KLF are building a prop for the night’s ‘performance’ at Heaven. “We’re both quite practical people,” says Bill casting a proud eye over rickety heap of wood … they start to explain their plan to use a wind machine to blow a sackful of one dollar notes into the audience at Heaven that night. That evening, at the Rage club night at Heaven, the joy- boys and gooned-out girls on the dancefloor have their evening’s disco-pigging interrupted by a thoroughly strange performance from two men dressed head to toe in deep sea fisherman’s garb. For 15 minutes The KLF stand absolutely motionless on stage, one on either side of a pyramid which supports two battered speakers arranged in a ‘T’ shape, blinding lights beam from behind them. The club sound system plays the crushing acid grind of ‘It’s Grim Up North’. And video cameramen record the half- struck, half-delighted crowd.” Apparently scenes of this were later used in the embankment version of the video clip for ‘3 a.m. eternal’ as well.
23rd June 1991 Festival Of Comedy, Liverpool
Accompanied on stage by the robed and hooded guests from the Rites of Mu, who chanted Mu Mu in an accapella version of Justified and Ancient. Apparently a lot of Liverpudlians got on stage too and it wasn’t very funny. They gave out ice creams from an ice cream van they had borrowed from a man who parked it in the street outside Trancentral.
13th Feb 1992 BRIT Awards, London
Drummond, wearing a kilt and supported by crutches, announced, “The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu versus Extreme Noise Terror: This is television freedom”, before the two bands launched into a raucous noise-fest of screaming guitars, super-fast drums, and guttural hoarse shouts of “3 A.M. 3 A.M. ETERNAL” from the two E.N.T. vocalists. This was live on prime-time TV, and performed in front of banks of seats of British music industry executives, at the annual BRIT Awards where the KLF had been nominated for best group and best LP.
“Bill was at the front of the stage, leaning on one crutch, practically shouting the vocals into the microphone. The lyrics were all-new (and different to the released version the KLF had just made available which was based on the original 3AM lyrics), but with the Extreme Noise Terror guys charging around the stage, screeching guitars, and the drummer going into overdrive, most of the actual words tended to get lost. I did pick out “The BRITs” and “BPI” (British Phonogram Industry), but little else. Jimmy had his coat with the hood down right up, so his face was practically concealed, but he was weaving around with his guitar. The few shots of the audience during the performance tended to suggest that they couldn’t believe what they were seeing – popular ‘dance’ music act becomes a thrash metal band, with a mind- numbing fusion of guitar and drums to a vague rendition of a well-known tune. Actually, Bill lost his way part through the second verse, and broke up laughing, but he managed to pick it up again just before slamming into the chorus.”
Bill hobbled off the stage to return with a large automatic rifle instead of a crutch, and a cigar in his mouth, and the whole thing ended with sparks and explosions from the rear of the stage, and Bill shooting blanks into the audience. They left the stage with the audience incredulous, as the voice of Scott Piering announced “The KLF have now left the music industry”.
25th Sep 1997 Barbican, London
2 thoughts on “How often did they appear live?”
I can clarify some details regarding the live performances. The bit entitled “Feb? 1990 Bootle? Kirby? Community Hall?, Liverpool” was actually a three-day benefit for the Marsh Lane Community Centre in Bootle, Liverpool. Echo and the Bunnymen, with new lead singer Noel Burke, headlined and were supported by Benny Profane and Tadzio. There was a t-shirt fro sale, which I bought, that featured all the bands playing, including the KLF. Sadly I no longer have it. The KLF joined Echo and the Bunnymen for a version of “What Time is Love?” on The benefit gigs took place on 15/16/17 March 1990. I travelled down from Scotland for the Saturday performance on 16 March. I have vague memories of an ice cream van on the stage at one point but I can’t recall it exactly as I was rather drunk. I hope this is useful.
It certainly is – thanks for sharing those memories, no matter how hazy. 😉