MUSIC LIVE REVIEWS
King Turk Walt Walt Hut. Glasgow;
Geez. those wacky Americans and their dotty ditties and dorky haircuts and bizarre vocoder effects. Don't us quaint Britsjust love it? Yes we do. particularly when it sounds like a slacker pop collision between Beck and Ben Folds Five. as do Eels. an LA trio whose name registers a widespread zero on the familiarometer in a random poll conducted in the days running up to the gig. Then you turn up at Tut's and they‘ve sold out.
So local support Hardbody have a sizeable audience to try out their trippy pop spells on. They’re sounding ﬂuent and confident these days. like a band who know they‘re doing that full- bodied 90s pop thang some justice and they‘ve got a brass section that don‘t sound like rejects from a Dodgy album to prove it. They will be vilified by some for sounding too right. too studied. but really there‘s enough ofa storm on stage to flip a few wigs out of place.
Eels immediately make friends with everyone in the room by opening with a version of Prince‘s ‘lfl Was Your Girlfriend‘. And. hey. those boysjust make it their own. By this point you're thinking. this has Weezer‘s sense of fun and tunes with strong hints of ‘we're clever frat boys. we are‘.
Their trip is to stir up a humorous. irreverent. and usually dynamic soup of various genres and instrumentation. then shoehorn it into their mellow swinging pop vibe with some of the bits still hanging out to give it goofy (but not Irm goofy) charm. Like. French horn solos — why doesn't everybody have them? Because then it would be boring. Eels do it and it's not boring. Eels bounce around a bit. exchange cultural baggage and witticisms with the audience and you still don‘t want to punch the specky singer at the end.
They will return soon, ifthey know what‘s good for them. and us. (Fiona Shepherd)
Eels: gooiy charm
nudes, aueen Margaret Union, Glasgow, 25 Jan.
Glasgow University’s Subcity Radio, now oiiicially Radio One rubber stamped as the Best Student Radio Station in the country, launches its most recent spell on the airwaves with a giant dance party featuring numerous local [le to get the crowd partied up. But hark! What’s this sensation? It’s the lTJ Rukem Interlude, or Things That Fill Your Mind When Listening To lTJ Rukem . . .
What does lTJ stand ior exactly? Perchance, liven Tha Joint. lose The Jist? long Time Jiving? liberatineg Terminally Jumpin’? luminescent Transmogriiication Jelly?
Got lost in it there. You’re subconsciously keeping up with the breakbeats but there’s the delicious mellow melodies waiting over the top, requiring some Play School ‘now let’s pretend we’re gently shaking trees’ interpretation irom the top hall of your body. Occasionally MC Conrad, Man In a Puiia Jacket, providing the vocal input tonight, gives you something to do with your eyes - y’know like look at him, instead oi gazing blearin at a bunch of bobbing heads.
There’s another lTJ Bukem Interlude coming on . . .
Interesting though the back oi this student’s head undoubtedly is, what must the view of the stage he like at the moment? What is lTJ actually doing to produce such vast waves of
drum ’n’ bass masterclass for those who can’t get their heads round jungle
lTJ Bukem: beats and melodies
(‘it’s too sinister’, ‘it’s a total headache’, ‘that’s not music, it’s just a series oi speeded-up breakbeats with some random sounds over the top to stop you tailing asleep’)? Is he doing the boiiin scientist? Is he waving around a butterin net, catching snatches of floating melodic reirains? Whatever it is there’s a whole bank oi punters clinging on to the railings opposite the stage, peering at him through them like monkeys in a zoo. Meanwhile, back down on the floor it’s all flailing hair, shuttling shoes, dodging elbows and avoiding people carrying iour pints from the bar. But honestly, it was fun. (Fiona Shepherd)
Bush: power chords in the right place
The Arches, Glasgow, 2 Feb.
Relocated from The Garage to a luxury igloo at The Arches, Bush’s anticipated audience oi the great unwashed at the scene oi a major road traiilc accident (morbid curiosity but a squeamish unwillingness to get involved) has morphed into Glasgow style meets Joe Ordinary. The iew ioot soldiers oi the rock iraternlty stick out like the proverbial sore thumbs. Nonetheless, it’s a large litter oi happy puppies that welcome Britain’s hottest export.
Kicking oii with a dynamism absent on record, Bush rock with that post- grunge attitude beloved oi the American college circuit. Can they keep it up all night, baby? Not really.
The power chords are in the right places. Guitarist iligel Pulsiord and ex-Transvision Vamp bassist Dave Parsons are unassuming blokes who don’t move much but produce a wall oi sound which makes the guts quiver pleasantly. Drummer Robin Goodridge gives 100 per cent although his wobbling bonce coupled with gales oi air-conditioning does make him bear more than a passing resemblance to Animal from The Muppets in the body oi Jesus oi Nazareth. Elsewhere, irontman Gavin Rossdale just gets on your tits. looking like he should be slacking on daddy’s cash at Edinburgh Uni, he doesn’t banter much, which is something oi a blessing as his two Stateside-inflected attempts are unintelligible to the sound oi mind.
in a set which pays its dues to Sixteen Stone but punts newie liazorblade Suitcase to the max, a classy ‘Swallowed’ gets girlie screams and a clap-along, while ‘Mouth’ is (honestly) accompanied by lighter- waving. ‘lnsect Kin’ goes a bit late, lamented Sepulchura (go, boy!) and a iew game but ieeble attempts at stage-diving ensue. But, all’s not well. Tracks like ‘Cold Contagious’ are lumpen etiorts while the ‘couple oi Sunday night songs’, including a turgid ‘Straight No Chaser’ resurrect Billy Bragg. While hard to pigeon-hole, Bush are iar irom unique.
‘llow do I get my money back?’ jokes a young scamp on the way out. ‘I wonder if my dad’s here,’ replies his cheeky chum. Says it all really. (Susan Mackenzie)
MARTIN HAYES AND DENNIS CAHILL
Srmr/rclyde Suite. Glasgow
The final weekend of Celtic Connections offered the customary roster of big names (Donal Ltmny. The Chieftains) and fashionable faces (Afro-Celt Sound System). but for sheer musicality. it would be difficult to top this Sunday afternoon recital by the dazzling Irish-American fiddler. Martin Hayes and his guitar-playing buddy. Dennis Cahill.
They were also scheduled to open for Emmylou Harris on the main auditorium stage. but the intimacy of a venue like the smaller Strathclyde Suite is the ideal one for them. Hayes‘s music thrives. above all. on communication and it is that. rather than technical display. which dictates his refreshing approach to the traditional tunes which make up their beguiling set.
It is not that Hayes is in any way lacking in the technical department w quite the opposite. His less than flat-out speeds fly in the face of the prevailing fashion for trying to etnulatc speetlstcrs like the great Frankie (iavin. but his approach allows the music to blossom. with notes and phrase flowing elegantly and expressivcly. rather than tumbling over one another at a pace which sacrifices much of that expressiveness (sadly. while many try. few actually can emulate Frankie).
Hayes makes this approach work because he is a great musician. with a hugely developed feel for the music he plays. Cahill provides a rock-solid. percussive base for their explorations. and the mounting intensity with which they built the instrumental sets. was as gripping as anything in the festival. They followed a fine set from Northumbrian piper Pauline Cato and fiddler Tom McConville. in what was another excellent double bill.
Celtic Connections have also launched a new contemporary music project with the composer Tomtny Fowler this year and. while the first product of it. the orchestral piece S’l'RI at the Barony Hall. proved to be a more coherent work than Phil Cunningham‘s Highlands and Islam! Suite at the start ofthe festival. it did not entirely succeed in bridging the gap between its contemporary and traditional idioms. (Kenny Mathieson)
Martin llayes: refreshing approach
44 The List 7-20 Feb I997