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live reviews

POP Belle And Sebastian

Maryhill Community Hall, Glasgow, Mon 31 Aug *hk

There's A Moment during this gig - the first of two warm-up shows before the Belles head off to conquer the globe which is not your conventional spinetingler, but seems to jumpstart one of the few dynamic episodes in an otherwise bashful performance. Halfway through bass player Stuart David's Arab Strap-like spoken word track 'A Space Boy Dream', various sedentary members of the band spring to life, scrambling for alternative instruments, taking up their positions for the driving instrumental coda. Their brief panic results in an energised flow of quirky sounds, quite different from the band's usual winsome atmospherics.

You don't go to a Belle And Sebastian show expecting energy, true. But some vital signs of life would be nice. The fact remains that after a couple of years gigging, the band - now an eight-piece with

Belle And Sebastian: honestly, it‘s really them.

the permanent addition of ex-Hardbody man Mick Cooke on trumpet - still play like they’re waiting for permission to do their exquisite songs justice. The gig does get into more effective stride from the Moment onwards but generally could do with some hotwiring.

On the plus side, acknowledging their nerves and mistakes serves as an ice-breaker. Sarah Martin and Isobel Campbell exchange amused glances with the audience during their wobbly recorder instrumental, and guitarist Stevie Jackson begs our pardon when he forgets that he is required to start one track.

Apparently the second night is to feature an entirely different set, so both shows will draw on the old as much as the new. 'I Don't Love Anyone' makes a welcome appearance and is a reminder that simple-but- effective Belle And Sebastian is as beguiling as wall-of-

sound Belle And Sebastian. Campbell's 'ls It Wicked Not To Care?’ from new album The Boy With The Arab Strap belongs in the former category and is executed with typical rabbit-caught-in-headlights rigidity.

The setting provides a mixture of the staid and the intimate. The room has the air of a downmarket municipal banqueting hall and most of the audience occupy the banks of seating, but latecomers sprawl informally out on the floor in front of the stage, getting numb bums. It helps that everyone seems so hopelessly in love and at home with the band's mini-dramas and orchestral folky sketches. Like a cute, penitent child you'll forgive them this time for their underachieving, because you know they can and must do better. (Whitney Plains)

I See feature, page 14


The Dandy Warhols *4. Glasgow: The Garage, Mon 31 Aug

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The Dandy Warhols: not so fine and dandy

42 TIIE LIST 10—24 Sep 1998

'Yer a genius!‘ bellows a flush-faced, round-cheeked bloke in a voice that could wrestle Rab C. Nesbitt to the

shag-pile. 'Genius?’ Courtney Taylor seems genuinely surprised delicate

eyebrows raised, KY Jello voice deepening, his Arctic composure momentarily thawed: ’Genius?!?'

Given that the accusation in question has been hurled at the slick-hipped singer during the wheezing, space-rock vacuum that is 'Be-in’, a song irreversibly immersed in grease-stained, low-brow biker mediocrity, Courtney’s modesty is hardly surprising. The Dandy Warhols, you see, may be many things to many people. One-trick space monkeys pogo-ing madly in a sticky pool of Sigue Sigue Sputnik-sponsored throwaway pop to some; zeitgeist- slurping sex pixies with enough Disney- eyed insouciance and fizzing rock knowhow to cause major panic at the world’s pop-exchanges to others. But geniuses they quite clearly ain’t.

With a grubby psychedelic slide show as a backdrop and a distinctly recalcitrant lighting system to contend with, the initial signs do not bode well.

Never the most groove-bitten of tunes anyway, 'I Love You', 'Orange’ and the yawnineg 'shocking' 'Hard On For Jesus’ are all delivered with the kind of no-holds barred, furniture chewing chutzpah normally reserved for an episode of The Antiques Road Show. Even the frequent, Lemmy-in-a-wind- tunnel whooshings of Zia McCabe's battle-scarred keyboard and Courtney’s wanton, spindle-limbed gyrations fail to compensate for such an underwhelming, couldn’t-care-Iess morass.

Nevertheless, the arrival of the claws- out, psychedelic pit-stop that IS ’Boys Better' sees a pop-hued chink appear in the Warhols’ steely-jawed armoury and by the time the pneumatic ’Every Day Should Be A Holiday' explodes into dayglo action, the front rows are partying like it's, ooh, at least 1979.

However removed from genius they may be, the Warhols still manage to proudly present a sparkling, textbook example of their be-wigged namesake‘s legendary, 'everyone's famous for fifteen minutes' comment. Enjoy them while they last.

(Sarah Dempster)

ROCK Embrace

Glasgow: Barrowlands, Fri 4 Sep * 1k ir

'Who says I can’t fuckin' sing?’ Had such a statement come from the lips of Marvin Gaye or Frank Sinatra, you’d probably say, ’not me, boss’. From Danny McNamara, it comes over as defensive and a little sad. Yet, this is what Embrace’s frontman insisted upon uttering after (yet) another largely tuneless ballad.

Of course, the initial shadow of doubt about McNamara’s vocal abilities was cast by one Noel Gallagher, which is a bit like the pot-indulger calling the kettle a chip off the old block, but at least McNamara hosts a more lovingly fraternal attitude on stage. How else can you explain the fact that he refused to race over to his brother Richard and ram a broken Gordon’s Gin bottle into his head for missing one guitar cue?

Not that Danny's humanity is kept in the family. Generously, he repeatedly doused the front rows with water, either to calm their perspiring brows or to extinguish their exotic fags. Yet he is not above Liam-esque cock of the northness his swagger includes a chest-back, arms outstretched, palms upward, fingers-waggling in a ’I can take you all on’ threat. And he’s also taken on the Richard Ashcroft-running- on—the spot, arms-pounding- downward look, which is nothing more than a little boy demanding his ball back.

And just who was gorng to be fooled by the 'thanks you've been great, right we’re off' statement after a mere 50 minutes and without ’Come Back To What You Know’ being played? Right, no-one. This one gesture showed up Embrace for what they are - predictable and frustrating. Their limits are palpable and their strengths are wasted. On record, they are just above the workmanlike. Live, they are an aural and visual work-to—rule, doing just enough but little else. They came on stage to ’What A Wonderful World.’ If Embrace were as good as you think they should be, then it might well be. (Brian Donaldson)

Embrace: not as good as you think they should be

STAR RATINGS * * * k * Unmissable * at it it Very od *1” Wort a shot * * Below average it You’ve been warned