Garage, Glasgow, 12 Jan.

Imagine the future: a guitar smashing you in the face, forever. Or, four bands over four hours showing some real promise for 1997. Yup, it’s the NME Brat Bus tour again.

3 Colours lied look great and, occasionally, sound great. They’ve become tighter, more viciously precise in their guitar assaults, over the past few months. This doesn’t help a lot of their chug-heavy material from disappearing into a vortex of meaningless roars. But meaningless roars are what anger is about, and there’s certainly a surfeit of anger in ripsnorting juggernauts such as ‘Nuclear Holiday’. Tonight, at least, they were little less than fab.

As were Symposium, if only because they were so hilarious. Aside from their sometimes excellent teen- thrash-pop anthems (and a fantastic buzzsaw romp through ‘A Hard Day’s Night’), they seemed to be just enjoying themselves. Especially the lead singer - my dad always advised against drinking too much orange juice, it makes you hyperactive. Symposium, indeed, are a melodic Northern Uproar on five tonnes of Outspan, and they’ll go far. At least as far as the baffling Tiger, whose dingy indie-schmindie was neither intriguing enough to be interesting, nor quirky enough to be funny. Instead, their monotonous hissing grind (with added invertebrate yelpings) was just painful to listen to. Only their singles stood out, because they have half a tune. The crowd fell quiet and shuffled their collective feet.

The same feet remained similarly unmoved by the knackered-looking Geneva. Not because they were appalling, but because they enthralled. Sure, at times their delicate structures creaked a little, but the way their lead singer’s voice bleeds so beautifully over such fragile constructs is just wonderful. The short and tangy ‘Nature’s Nated’ was superb, but tonight’s ‘Tranquilizer’ was astounding - more bite and passion than you’d expect from such a gracefully ethereal band. By the end though, four bands in four hours just seemed like an extended slog, wlth none of last year’s Brat Bus spirit and verve. No wonder the crowd seemed so subdued. Pop shouldn’t be such hard work. (James Edwards)

3 Colours lied: ‘a surfelt of anger’





Burrow/um]. Glasgow, I 5 Jan.

Ra ra . . . he‘s a better Rasputin than Tom Baker ever was. The Black Crowes‘ hirsute singer. gangly limbs flailing. he‘s whooping. a-hollering and pointing at his colleagues as they solo their leather trews off. Poor Chris Robinson. rumour has it the evil record company only let the guy out of the broom cupboard come curtain call to wibble his way through another hour and three quarters of bombastic white boy blues. After which he‘s allowed a Marmitc piece and half a bottle of Sweetheart Stout before bed.

But get off his case. right. because the hoochie coochie man knows his music. At least. he knows the Stones. Faces. Led Zep. Eagles . . . huh'.’ Who invited The Eagles? No matter. The Crowes (as they no doubt loathe being called) work their crowd and it‘s hard to grudge them respect fora show that operates so brilliantly at the level of rock ‘n’ roll pantomime. Six fellas long of hair.

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Black Crowes: ‘very 1973'

three beards between them (interchangeable perhaps) and a whole lotta grinding R ‘n‘ B toons inevitably containing one of those uppity middle eights that threatens to usurp the Sudetenland. Sample song title: ‘How Much For Your Wings‘. Very l973. The songs seem to concern whiskey. whore houses and Chevrolets. Except ‘Spider In The Sugar Bowl‘. which one assumes is a metaphor for something

some hapless mini intruder. They play two covers: one a faithful take on The Byrds' ‘Mr Spaceman‘; the other an old Jimmy Rogers‘ blues number that‘s as close to hum-dinging as allowed on a school night. if somewhat tainted by a suggestion from behind me that it could be the theme from Countdown. Adrnirably. Robinson eschews the expected Yank frontman‘s dumb dumb banter. opting instead fora demure or merely gracious approach. Mood according. A charming performer. he dances in the questionable style of Johnny Morris at a chimp's tea party but his enthusiasm is never in question. Rockin‘. The mad monk would have

loved it. (Rodger Evans)


Barrowland. Glasgow. 20 Jan.

Incense sticks. beads and songs sung in Sanskrit. Must be a Kula Shaker gig then. Thing is. no matter how well acquainted you are with their debut album. K. and how easily you swallow the foursome’s karmic belief system. none of it is adequate preparation for the live Kula Shaker experience. Frontman Crispian Mills is a bouncy. energetic soul. perhaps more so than either his doe-eyed coupon or mystic prognostications would lead to believe. And by Christ. or should that be by Krishna. can the guy roar. On record he sometimes sounds a little anaemic; live. he‘s obviously got a set of lungs that could inflate a hot water bottle and he comes on like a vegetarian version of Deep Purple lost in a fretboard wigout. Further retro references can be picked

out in the Hendrixian intro to ‘Grateful When You‘re Dead‘: Mills opts for the full-blooded wah wah FX pedal and hams up the axe wank act so much that his grandad. luvvie extraordinaire Sir John Mills. must have tears of pride in his eyes.

‘Let‘s do one for George.‘ announces Mills. ‘That‘s St George.‘ he continues. lest anyone should think he meant The Beatles‘ George ‘Kaftan' Harrison. It's not often that a Barrowland crowd would let anyone get away with dedicating a song to the patron saint of England but Kula Shaker manage an empathy (they would no doubt say ‘oneness of being‘) with the crowd that transcends national differences. Man. But then it‘s also unheard of for a crowd to all sing along in Hindi. ()r at least. it‘s unheard of since Ravi Shankar played at the Concert for Bangladesh in l972.

Did anyone else notice that lay Darlington slaps the keyboard like he‘s

playing the tablas? (Jonathan Trew)

deeply unpleasant rather than the tale of


Various venues, Glasgow.

Phil Cunningham’s ambitious Highlands And Islands Suite proved, as these things generally do, to be a mixed bag, but it provided a high- profile launch to this most high-profile of folk festivals. As ever, though, while the likes of Capercaillie and Billy Bragg provided crowd-pleasing performances on the main stage, some of the most absorbing music was unfolding in the smaller venues.

Take, for example, Kevin Burke’s Open House, caught in marvellous fettle in the Strathclyde Suite. Burke has few peers as a fiddler in lrish music, but he and his collaborators in this Irish-American band Paul ltotapish, Mark Graham, and foot percussionist Sandy Silva, who dances out the rhythms on a kind of giant wooden drum - take the music on a very unpredictable journey indeed.

Virtuoso Irish reels elbow for space with a Haitian merengue, a set of French bourrees, or rip-roaring Balkan tunes, all played with consummate mastery. Graham’s hilarious, tongue- in-cheek songs add a further unconventional dimension, while Silva’s energetic dancing introduces a dramatic visual element for good measure.

The excellent new auditorium at The Piping Centre is a very welcome addition to the city’s musical resources, and the Simon Thoumire Trio responded to its lovely acoustic with a highly inventive interrnixing of folk and jazz. Thoumire’s revelatory concertina playing grows increasingly jaw-dropping, while Kevin Mackenzie’s jazz solos on acoustic guitar provide an energising lift to the music. Bassist Simon Thorpe is responsive to everything that goes on, in a notably empathic band.

The young Border-based oulit Oeaf Shepherd made the main stage, as support for Iris OeMent’s excellent set. They have added a sixth player in the eight months or so since I last heard them, and have developed noticeably in the process. Their sound is driven by twin fiddles and pipes, and if they still tend to let the adrenalin get the better of them at times, they are now fulfilling their early promise. The joke in the name has worn a bit thin, though. (Kenny Mathieson)

Sandy Sllva of llevln Burke's Open House: ‘a very unpredictable journey’

44 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb I997