LIVE REVIEWS MUSIC
THE APHEX TWIN
Kenlckle Stereophonics mark a promising start. As to Kenickie, it’s very much a gig of two halves with the only constant being the incessant heckling, which seems to be the going penalty price for having a band with more than one female member. Not that the three
Cur/muse. Glasgow. 'I'lmrs 5 Dee. There's an uneasy feeling here tonight. A feeling that can‘t be traced back to just the oddly old-fashioned rock these bands play. There is a feeling you‘ve heard it all before. and heard it all done better. Maybe this show is just a temporal time slip to the world of indie rock about four years ago.
Jocasta‘s music in particular doesn‘t ring true. Unfortunately for these earnest types. melodramatic. anguished indie rock such as this has been royally summed up and surpassed by many other vastly superior bands already. There is not much mileage left in such adolescent ‘feel my pain‘ rockism as this. especially when adorned with ' some frankly excruciating gee-tar soloing. Even Jocasta’s recent flawed gem of a single. ‘Something To Say'. becomes just one of a number of troubled. whiney-voiced rock-outs lost in a wall of sludge and despondency. The end result is like your little brother whinging his pained diary entries while Bon Jovi play in the background. Besides. they all look too well-fed to be as miserable as they sound.
Cecil on the other hand. rock hard and are as tuneful as you'd imagine Jocasta want to be. That they look supremely scary is a bonus and the moment when the obviously rather upset singer vaults over the crush- barrier and starts shouting directly into the audience‘s petriﬁed faces is one for the mental scrapbook. Which is lucky. because their music is from the musical scrapyard (even if they do it rather well): taut and edgy but ultimately barren strop-rock as frequently purveyed by big-shorted. small-brained Americans a few years ago. The audience that head-butted each other to the nail-gun riffage and wore White 'Zombie T-shirts seemed to enjoy it though.
At least Cecil are honest in their simplicity, which is preferable over Jocasta‘s melodramatic bluster any day. (Phil Miller)
Venue, Edinburgh, Tue 3 Dec
It is all looking a bit worrying when The Stereophonics first take to the stage. Richard, the bassist, is sporting the kind of evil haircut favoured by Iron Maiden and their fans and, scarily, has the tattoos to match. Which just goes to prove that you shouldn’t judge a band on their looks alone, for The Stereophonics trio have about as much in common with hoary heavy metal bands as The Spice Girls do.
If you want a label, then ‘thug rock’ is mebbe halfway there. llot that this is mindlessly violent music but it is brutal and bruising. Stuart, the drummer, gives the skins a vicious pounding while Kelly, the frontman, matches the rhythmic wrecking of his guitar with a vocal intensity that makes the hair on the back of your neck crawl. Oh, and he bounces around. A lot. Which is always good. As the first signing for Richard Branson’s new label, V2, The
front women (the only guy is the drummer) seem at all fazed. They give at least as good as they get on the verbal assault front, mainly by using an intriguing form of defence known as ‘talking so much gobbledegook that it confuses the hecklers.’
Musically, they start off all glitzy, shrieking and with a surprisingly brittle sound for a four-piece. A few years ago, we might have said ‘riot grrl’ but now that we’re not so hung up on gender differences we’ll just say that they sounded like three schoolgirls giggling to one another while learning to play their instruments. But let’s not get too sour. Kenickie get into their stride halfway through with Lauren deadpanning the vocals over an intricately messy guitar squall or all three women giving it laldy on the ‘yeah, yeah. yeah’ choruses or better still, slipping into something raucously slinky. Close, but only half a cigar. (Jonathan Trew)
Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 8 Dec.
The best place for The Bluetones is in your bedroom. llot in person, obviously, though l’m sure a lot of their rabid fans here tonight wouldn’t mind. llo, it’s their music — their sensitive and delicate hymns to emotional eguivocation lust die in concert, hammered flat by the demands of the live arena.
The problem is that The Bluetones’ strengths are ones that are impossible to re-produce in the live arena: subtlety, delicacy, understatement. 0n record their pallid rock-outs, such as “Out Some liug’, are easily their worst material: live they seem to dominate, alongside moribund B-sides and startlingly derivative new songs. Even ‘Slight lieturn’ sounds lumpen tonight. The Bluetones know how to weave an Instinctive, lithe and penetrating melody, but you wouldn’t know if from tonight’s heavy-legged bluster. Even Morriss’ inimitable chicken-dancing
seemed a bit laboured.
While such chiming missives as the marvellous ‘Bluetonic’ are perfectly judged and weighted on record, here it just comes out a smeared blur, as the grimy souped-up guitars are pitted unfairly against the pitiful whine of Mark Morriss. Which is a shame.
Sure, at times they shine: the magnificent ‘Puttlng Out Fires’ survives amplification well enough, but something vital is still missing. Unfortunately, they will carry on this way: they are too big now (two sold out nights in Glasgow, gone in four hours), too ambitious. Their new songs seem written for the big stage: blander melodies, heavier guitars.
Maybe their problem lies in the fact that they are at heart lost an old- fashioned indie band, not a band bred for the new rock orthodoxy. They shouldn’t feel they have to loin in with the lamentable authenticity favoured by Weller and his thlck-eared acolytes. They have enough quality as it is without deliberately trying to join in with the big boys. (James Edwards)
Qm/os. Queen Ala/gale! Uri/ml. Glasgow, Wed 4 Der .
It were never like this in my student days. it were all draughty gym ball ambience and pints of cider and blackcurrant spilling on to moth- infested carpets when l were last in these parts. Nowadays students demand a bit more from their humble union and so the low-rent cornfiness of the Queen Margaret Union has been upgraded somewhat.
'l‘hc drinks of choice are still served in pint glasses. although it‘s pints of water when The Aphev 'l‘w in is in town (he is here, isn‘t he'.’ No one seems very sure. and care even less given the blanket euphoria coming from the venue's bowels). Most reassuring of all to someone whose memory of student life is dulled by time rather than hedonistic overindulgence is the fact that it takes for-bleedingever to be served at the bar. Ah. memories.
They do say that clubbing is the great leveller' and once inside the main hall there are no distinctions arts students. engineering students. well—and-truly ex- studcnts are as one in their appreciation of the twinned one. If we could be sure of his whereabouts. llis stage time was apparently hush-hush. but let‘s face it. the techno-meister could have sent a body double and some DATs to Glasgow and we‘d be none the wiser.
The appearance of two dancing furry creatures. one orange. one green. both probably with human beings inside. seems to indicate that Aphex is in full effect. Well, the beats escalate. the industrial edge becomes more pronounced and everyone faces the stage and laughs a lot at any rate.
A reconnaissance trip reveals young Richard James (for ‘tis be!) lying on his stomach towards the side of the stage and knob-twiddling for all he’s worth. Bizarrely. he requires an escort of security men before he exits the stage. What for? Does he think we know what he looks like?
Hey, everyone! Aphex Twin has left the building! Fine, just carry on dancing regardless. see if he cares! (Fiona Shepherd)
The List 13 Dec l996-9 Jan l997 47