live reviews

ROCK Space

Glasgow: Barrowland, Fri 29 * sir i a:

Space are not what they should be. On record they sound, well, just strange as if The Divine Comedy had been thrown in a blender with a baggy-trousered techno freak and The Waterboy’s Mike Scott. Sometimes, just when you think you've got the hang of a tune, it suddenly goes off on some weird tangent - Latin, reggae, showtune. Whatever they fancy really. Live, it's a far more straightforward matter. Good old- fashioned cheeky chappie entertainers. Or perhaps just fresh young pups eager to please. Either way, the crowd are in the palm of their hand. Don't be fooled. The records are decidedly off-kilter and don't always work - but here in ra Barras this is a pure pop experience. Jamie is the laddish scally, bantering with the rest of the band and the crowd. George Best look-a~like Tommy is the charmer, picking out girls in the crowd and crooning to them, giving thumbs-up signs to the guys, and jumping up on monitors to give it his all. Someone throws a tartan scarf. Tommy waves it around. 'Can I be in the Bay City Rollers now?’ he asks. What a japester. Tommy jumps down in front of the stage barriers. The

Space: the final frontier

girls scream. Tommy is the one they all want. But they love the whole band really. Girls appear above the crowd, balancing precariously on long-suffering boyfriends' shoulders. But the boyfriends are grinning madly they love a bit of it, and Space are brilliant anyway.

Feelgood? Maybe, but that makes them sound like some turgid American AOR band such as, to be argumentative, Smashing Pumpkins. Space are a real alternative. There’s that breakbeat sampling keyboard gizmo set-up, which messes up the whole pigeonholing of Space as indie. If anything, they’re err bouncy. You can’t help bobbing along to the songs. Luckily however, they sound more like World Of Twist than The Housemartins.

Newer tracks such as 'Disco Dolly’ and ’One O’Clock’ go down as rapturously as old favourites such as 'Neighbourhood' and ’Female Of The Species‘. Popular? Not ’arf. They come back for not one but three encores, finishing off with a rousing version of ’Me And You Versus The World'. Tommy points at the crowd and everyone points back. Ah, we always love that one. Crowd-pleasing but not grovelling, Space look pleased as punch with themselves. So they should. (Katrina Dixon)


Jan. mum

James Taylor Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Mon 26

s0ngs are nearly 30 years old? Taylor shrugs that off and Sings them like old pals, changing a little accent here and

there but mostly just as they were

50 "IE UST 6—19 Feb 1998

James Taylor: familiarity breeds


James Taylor sings person to person. Blue shirt and cords, he’s as casual as a man playing mum at home and tall and lean as a cowboy at a campfire His words are warm and his songs are the kind which light you up. His eyes twinkle and you just can’t help twrnkling right back. His voice is tuned to his guitar and together they play harmonies all their own.

God, I have always loved those harmonies. ’Sweet Baby James', backed by the Beatles, was published in the late 605 and oh, how sweet it was. In many ways Taylor’s music has nor changed since then. Surrounded by loving fans of a certain age, he does his turn wrth a freshness and affection which belies the number of times he must have sung the oldies. 'Fire And Rain’ has the aching urgency of a recently broken love affair; 'Country Road' holds its note clear over the highways and 'Sweet Baby James’ itself just brings tears to your eyes. These

originally conceived.

It seems that familiarity with his work only improves it Clear harmonies and vorce might give an inipresSion of simplicny, but Taylor's vvorir is full of jumps and turns and Winks of a note There’s a laid back, folksy staccato about a song like 'Coppeilrne' and a liquid rythym in ’She's Around Me Now'. His easy American style never hangs around and you can tell he loves rockrn’ when he turns Your 'Smiling Face' into a real belter

His new songs, introduced as ’the same as all the old stuff’, have that unique Tayor sound -- nothing is lost, but lyrically it's more mature. The music

is sublime, but what might surprise

fans of his intimate style is that Taylor live reveals a music man who loves performing, offering humour and stories which have us all as attentive as the front row in class. (Alice 8am; I James Taylor returns to play the Edinburgh Playhouse, Sun 15 Mar

l J


(Stella Whitehead)

FOLK Martyn Bennett

Glasgow: Old Fruitmarket, Fri 30 Jan t***

Terr'ents of praise have rained down on Martyn Benriet for the way in which he has taken traditional instruments and blended their sound with clancefloor atmospher'ics and ethnic grooves The plaudits have included descriptions ranging from stunningly good to groundbreaking and arrestineg j talented. The only qualification which f has regularly reared its head is how ' much better he would sound With a band as opposed to playing solo over self-pingi‘an2med backing tracks.

Well, now those gruiiitiies have been answered Bennett himself never disagreed; it was only a case of finding the right people and the right moment, Hence the debut appearance of of his new band Cuillin Music at this packed-to-the-rafters Celtic Connections gig.

Needless to say, expectations are running high and Bennett's three cohorts, all of whom are new to the professional scene, must feel the pressure acutely So they can be forgiven for a wobbly first few minutes the addition of Kirsten Thompson's keyboards and samplers; Deirdre's Pv’laftlllllellS fiddle and Rory Pierce’s urllean pipes and flute to Bennett's own pipes, fiddle and whistles resulting in a muddy, folk-rock mix of no discernible distinction.

Thankfully, things soon sharpen up, the PA levels sort themselves out and the crowd duly goes iadge as that live edge that was prevrously missing works its crucial catalytic magic Tracks from I Bennett's new Bot/iv Culture album are ! fleshed out With artful extra layers of i colour, ac0ustic and electronic textures sparking and sparkling in full-on harmony Techno, house and plenty of drum 'ri' bass ceilidhs away with Celtic melodies, both traditional and Bennett's own The grooves as powerful as the playing is sweet. Sure, there are minor holes that could be picked but as a first performance, it meets its challenge trrurnphantly.

Martyn Bennett: meeting new challenges head on

STAR RATINGS * e x * unmissable t it at it Very good at it Worth a shot * * Below average it You’ve been warned