LIVE REVIEWS MUSIC
Davy Spillane Band
The Venue. Edinburgh. 26 Nov. It was not an auspicious start. As we approached The Venue at just after 9pm. the unmistakable sound ofthe uilleann pipes was wafting out of the door along with the usual clouds ofsrnoke. Ergo. we'd missed support act Kith and Kin; apologies to them for my inability to describe the stormer they doubtless played. Then the doorman failed to find my name on the guest list and ﬂatly refused to let us in until my NUJ card convinced .him — just — that [wasn’t merely some wandering chancer. Once inside. the main reason for his reluctance was all too apparent: more people than I‘ve ever seen within those dripping walls. elbow-to-elbow right back to the bar. The die-hards at the front must have grown gills. Spillane‘s enviable fresh-facedness might belythefactthathe'sbeen ' performing for fourteen years. but it certainly shows in his playing. In his hands. the pipes and flute-like low whistle are musical magic wands — the band would set into a hard funk beat or a Bo Diddley-type riff. then the swirling, rippling. lilting sound of the pipes would start dancing a reel or jig or some such over the top. and you found yourself wondering why no one had spotted the chemistry between folk and funk before. Pity about the band‘s penchant for hippy. drippy. 70s guitar-hero breaks. but as soon as the pipes or whistle came in all was forgiven. For 90minutes we were transported by the mournfully beautiful slow numbers. jigged as best we could to the drivingly catchy dance tracks, until the second encore finished. the lights came on and this particular pipe-dream was over. (Sue Wilson)
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HUE AND CRY
Usher llall, Edinburgh, 26 Nov. Luxurlant of red mane, eating a banana and backed by a minimalist jazz-busking combo, Eddi Reader opens with the freeform airlness of ‘Spirit’, and the place is spellbound. It’s that voice again; a magnificent, soaring range, from the husky murmur to the ecstatic vibrato-squeal, as plaintive as you’d forgotten it ever was. lt’s three years since the singalong strains of Fairground Attraction’s ‘Perfect’ conquered our charts and hearts and, since then, Eddi’s had a bairn and generally cared little about the pop-circus treadmill. This healthy attitude pervades her breezy perlormance tonight: her ‘comeback’ single, ‘All Or Nothing’, all tin-whistle and feminism, and a moving rendition of Dick Gaughan’s ‘lt’s What You Do With What You Got’ are highlights of a consistently engaging, thoroughly unpretentious set.
The brothers Kane appear to rapacious applause and wolf-whistles, newly dropped from their label but looking cheery nonetheless. ‘Strength To Strength’, a spriter ’l Refuse’ (still their best song) and a rolling ‘Violently’ ensue, immediately articulating the band’s tightness, reliably time-kept by the engine-room rhythms of Mark Foreshaw, currently the best stickman in Scotland. ‘Looking For Linda’ plods as always, but still shows Pat Kane to be an able frontrnan, all Glasgow camaraderie, from lounge lizard to pelvis thruster in the space of a middle
eight. Effortlessly, he instills an intimate but matey atmosphere in the Usher’s austere surrounds. Brother Greg tickles ivories on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Mistra Knowitall’, which shows Pat’s voice, tinged with an end-of-tour raggedness, capable of scat to challenge Ms Reader’s vocal acrobatics. Explaining that the metaphysical poets were ‘actually alter a damned good shag’, Kane major conducts a rousing ‘My Salt Heart’ and finally duets with Eddi Reader on a touching version of Tom Waits’s beautiful ‘Martha’.
Good entertainment and, musically, faultless all round. Only one gripe—a poignant contrast of sorts. Reader’s a hippie and sings about love and life. Kane’s a New Man and sings about books and second-hand ideas. I know which would make me cry soonest.
(Paul W. Hullah)
3‘ MERCURY REV
Venue, Glasgow, 27Nov.
Here’s a neat slant on the age-old band/audience gulf: David Baker, Mercury Bev’s oddball vocalist and occasional spare part opts fora stroll round the venue at various junctures in tonight’s set. And what do the lesser mortals in the pit do? Nothing. We just let him cart his neurosis with him, eyeing him with veiled curiosity as though he were a particularly graceless stagediver. It’s a start though — alone gesture to show how Mercury Rev dispense with cosy regularity.
There’s more here than just another American fruitcake collective swallowed wholesale by the Brits in ‘grass is greener on the other side’ scenario. Because Mercury Rev have sprung from a peculiarly English genealogy, the same one that has spawned The Orb, Spiritualized, Levitation. Like those groups, they are bored with three-minute pop songs. They don’t want to go from A to B, but from A to D and back to C missing out B
completely. You could call it avant-garde it you seek to patronise; sometimes it is just weirdness forthe sake of being weird, but more often than not it’s a choice between the retina-scorching heavy psychedelia Loop used to hammer out, Spacemen 3's oceans of reverberating, dizzy feedback, or plain, repetitive brutality.
' And then there are the vocals, which
are something else again — part spoken, part whooped, part falsetto whine, like Levellers 5 with a Brooklyn accenL This much is apparent by the end of
their frustratingly short set, but how one is supposed to react to the way they mesh these elements is not. For brief moments the attention wanders only to be snapped back by some combustible guitarduelllng, orwhatever madness they next choose to perpetrate. ‘Very Sleepy Bivers’, their closing number, is an event in itself, but one which well demonstrates the Mercury Rev dilemma - do they lack direction or transcend it? The jury’s still out. (Fiona Shepherd)
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Concerts listed are those at major venues, for which tickets are on public sale at time of going to press.
I GLASGOW BARROWLAND (226 4679) Texas, 20 Dec; The Silencers. 22 Dec; Inspiral Carpets, 12 Feb.
I GLASGOW CONCERT HALL (227 551 1) Lisa Stansfield. 20 Mar.
I GLASGOW SECC (557 6969) Gary Glitter. 23—24 Dec; Simply Red, 27Jan; Eric Clapton. 3 Mar; Wet Wet Wet. 13 Mar; Cliff Richard, 29—31 Oct; Tom Jones, 2 Nov.
I EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE (557 2590) Fish. 31 Dec; Wet Wet Wet. 15 Mar; Rocky Horror Show. 20—21 Mar; Erasure. 3—5 Jul.
JAZZ & FOLK
I GLASGOW CONCERT HALL (227 5511)Chick Corea Elektric Band, 26 Mar; Sonny Rollins, 21 Apr. I GLASGOW THEATRE ROYAL (332 9000) Cami Kidd, 27 Dec.
I EDINBURGH OUEEN'S HALL (668 2019) Jazz Ball. 20 Dec.
I GLASGOW CONCERT HALL (227 5511)New World Symphony. 17 Jan; Moscow State Symphony, 2—3 Mar; Philharmonia, 23 Mar.
I GLASGOW RSAMD (332
The Us} 6— 19 December 1991— 37
Fish 5057) Junior Concert. 21 Dec; Anthony Rolfe Johnson. 23 Jan; Scottish Ensemble. 24 Jan; SCO Brass, 25 Jan; John Williams. 6 Feb; Hebrides Ensemble, 16 Feb; Scottish Ensemble, 28 Feb; John Lill, 12 Mar; Scottish Ensemble, 10 Apr; SCO Brass, 11 Apr. I EDINBURGH OUEEN'S HALL (668 2019) Cappella Nova. 21 Dec; Hebrides Ensemble, 19Jan; Scottish Ensemble, 26 Jan; ECAT—SSPCA Charity Concert, 2 Feb; Gould Piano Trio, 11 Feb; Songmakers Almanac. 17 Feb; Scottish Ensemble. 1 Mar; Brindisi String Quartet. 16 Mar; Orkest de Volharding, 25 Mar; Alfred Brendel. 11Apr: Scottish Ensemble, 12 Apr; Evelyn Glennie & Anna Steiger. 29 Apr.
I EDINBURGH USHER HALL (228 1155) Messiah (ERCU), 2 Jan; Verdi’s Requiem (ERCU), 9 May.
I SUBSCRIPTION SEASONS Programme details and tickets for Royal Scottish Orchestra. Scottish Chamber Orchestra. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. and City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra are available from Ticketcentre, Glasgow (227 5511);Usherliall. Edinburgh (228 1155); Queen's Hall, Edinburgh (668 2019). Tickets for Scottish Opera from Theatre Royal, Glasgow (332 9000); Playhouse.
Edinburgh (557 2590).