Seen (H Irvine Bt’tit'lt Sal 3 [/5101 /

It's the end of the festival season as we know it. or. sad to report. the fag-end. if the lrvine Beach mini-fest is anything to go by. No one’s pointing the finger it just wasn't very good. Disparate groups of punters wandering aimlessly around a few food stalls. or huddling together for warmth in the relative vibe haven ofthe beer tents. gathering in clutnps in the tent for the next act to attempt to warm up proceedings. meandering outside again and casting anxious gazes at the interminany grey sky above.

()ne fundamental rule of festivals is that even the greatest line-up conceivable has difficulty in cheering up a wet. grey. windy day -- and this wasn‘t the greatest line-up conceivable. That said. there was no unremittingly awful performance to be found. but likewise. only one transcendent set over the two days.

On Saturday Kula Shaker did an ageeable enough version of the second Stone Roses album and did their best not to sing in English if at all possible. Their imminent rise to great commercial popularity remains a mystery. but then Shed Seven‘s current Top l0 position is even less credible. as is their ability to genuinely elicit an

enthused reaction from the crowd with such lukewarm material. But rock. preen. strut go the band and tnosh go the crowd. Just how enthusiastic a performance Rick Witter would turn in if they had songs of their own as good as ‘Jumpin‘ Jack Flash' (which they cover leadenly) hardly bears thinking about. He positively revels in the spotlight and attacks the microphone with his trademark foghorn vocals. As they exit. the air is reverberating to the remark ‘my. I‘d forgotten how many hits they've bad. My. I'd forgotten how forgettable those hits were.

At first glance (and listen) Julian Cope seems like a drastic mistake. an eccentric ()Al’ aberration in a line-up of young guns. but after his usual absurd pronouncements and seriously off-the-wall jamming and twiddling is dispensed with and the oldies but goldies are wheeled out. leaping from their bathchairs like the fresh. rousing pop things they are. Sir Julian seems like an absolutely great idea. like a bottle of champagne introduced at a party full ofcrushed. empty lager cans.

The corks have definitely been popped for Supergrass. who round things off in celebratory fashion with their usual tight. ballsy set. New material is kept to a manageable level which is as well. because none of it hits you between the eyes like the I Should Cm‘u songs. all of which are romped through with the same confidence and

’1” 4' fr]

Shed Seven: what are you wittering about?

vigour as the day you first heard them. Supergrass blast their contemporaries further down the bill out of the league.

Sunday is dance day. but the audience are obviously saving themselves for later if the half-hearted leg-shaking to 808 State is anything to go by. The enjoyment factor derived frotn their Greatest Former Hits set. including ‘Cubik'. ‘ln Yer Face‘ and the beatific classic ‘Pacific State'. is. however. thrown into relief by the arrival of Underworld. the true stars of the weekend. Respect to the ‘State (as they say) for being the first to integrate guitars into dance music, but Underworld take the baton and run and run and run with it fora compulsive set that peaks. subsides and then peaks again. with an inspired closing medley of ‘Rez‘ (which starts with a disguised version of the tnain refrain. slowed down to a Close [Encounters pace). ‘Cowgirl' and ‘Born Slippy'.

Despite the star personality factor. Bliirk can't hope to whip the audience into such a ‘lager. lager. lager' frenzy again. instead she charms with her cute gerbil antics. a tn'ptastic ‘Venus As A Boy‘ and a simple accordian- accompanied encore of ‘lt‘s Oh 50 Quiet'. But ifthe lrvine Beach festival is to happen again. there will have to be an injection of some megastatus talent to ensure maximum pulling power in a country already well served for summer festivals. (Fiona Shepherd)


The Venue, Edinburgh, Wed 28 Stories of the lead singer, Andrew Montgomery, soundchecklng tor gigs with fifteen-minute, unaccompanied versions or Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’ have the whirl of the apocryphal about them, over-hyping having sunk many an alright band beiore they had the chance to realise their potential. But it we throw caution and pre-emptive curses to the winds, any doubts are bulldozed aside the moment Montgomery opens his mouth. Imagine a world-weary angel singing about a drug comedown and you’re halrway there.

Geneva are (often) compared to Suede in a cathedral and while, as Suede’s stablemates on liude, this is likely to be an unwelcome millstone about their necks, the statement has some validity. There are certainly elements or Suede’s grandeur in the mix but without the lake gold glam trash oi Messrs Anderson and chums. Instead Geneva have carved their own identity with Montgomery’s astonishing vocal range. The man is in command at several more octaves than most and his beautirully pure vocals are counterpointed by the chiming notes or the instrumentation on numbers like ‘Worry Beads’; while tracks like their new single ‘rlo-One Speaks’ (due out on 7 October) prove that they can dig out deep reserves of raunch when needed.

When Geneva launch into ‘God or Sleep’ it sounds as atmospheric as a Morricone score, with Montgomery clasping his hands around the microphone like an insomniac invoking Morpheus or a mueuin calling the raithiul to prayer. By the time they get around to ‘lnto The Blue’ it’s easy to see how sailors believed that they could be lured to a watery death by haunting sounds beguiling them through a sea mist and makes the Buckley connection all the clearer.

The only problem is seeing them before the government bans them for grossly lowering the nation’s domestic output as hordes rorsake their jobs to follow the siren call. (Jonathan Trew)

Geneva: more haunting than the Tower at london

38 The List 6- l9 Sept I996