80sPOP Culture Club/The Human League/ABC Glasgow: SECC, Fri ‘i‘i Dec A group of late twentysomethings are en route to The Big Rewind tour's Glasgow date, discussing the prospect of seeing the reformed Culture Club with the vociferous excitement of a bunch of teenagers off to a Boyzone gig. Inside the arena, other alleged grown-ups are bopping away to the adverts for 805 hits albums being relayed onto the giant video screens, having clearly been downgraded from fans to merely consumers. However, Duran Duran, OMD and Frankie Goes To Hollywood are greeted with fervent nostalgia for the school disco experience. Look, it’s Level 42 next! Fair enough — it's okay to confront the painful memories too. First up in the live arena are ABC. While Martin Fry hasn’t exactly made a Faustian pact, he has certainly aged gracefully. The other members of the band are looking good too, although whether any of them were actually in the original line-up is neither known nor cared about. Despite faithful versions of 'Tears Are Not Enough' and ’All Of My Heart', all that really matters is the appearance of the gold lame suit for the classic pop moment 'The Look Of Love'.
PJ Harvey: back to basics
Culture Club: sprightly, lush and irritating
Encouraged by the fact that ABC are almost as good as we had remembered them, it's an already well-oiled crowd who greet The Human League and their stark white stage set. They start with some enigmatic futurist posturing from the days before the girls leavened the experience. Then Suzanne and Joanne appear, still wearing the panda make-up and doing the same ostentatious arm-waving dance. They ease into 'The Sound Of The Crowd‘ (majestic, but a bit po-faced) before peaking early with ’Mirror Man', the closest anyone from Sheffield will ever come to approximating a Phil Spector production.
Headliners Culture Club are so keen to have us reeling in the years that they've even recruited a large lady with a bigger voice to replace Helen Terry and she shimmies with the best of them to ’Church Of The Poison Mind’. Boy George, meanwhile, sports a glittery headdress which makes him look like the evil witch from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
They play a couple of George's solo efforts and lightweight newie 'I Just Wanna Be Loved', but it’s the singles collection people are here for and they get it, including a sprightly ’lt's A Miracle', a lush 'Victims' and a bloody irritating ’Karma Chameleon’ which is still a pop atrocity even with cosy hindsight. Still, at least they didn’t play ’The War Song'. (Fiona Shepherd)
fans watching theii fantasies shatter lf Pl has shed some, if not all, ()f the
her then, she's also discarded some of her music’s density The songs that she plays from her new album Is This Desire? are much more, stripped down than previous work Less ornate and
which characterised To Bring You
Dry Or Rid Of Me, these songs reveal a frailer more restrained Quality to her
the more passionate material
Better is the snarl and unhinged fury of ’SOft Queenie' or the brooding pulse of 'Meet Ze Monsta' which throbs with
v0ice which isn't always as involvmg as
ROCK PJ Harvey
Glasgow: Barrowland, Wed 9 Dec
The last time P: Haney played the Barrowland, she was slap in the middle of her 'H‘igh pHestess of Swamp Voodoo phase This involved wearing a translucent red dress, scary rnake-up to match and beating Out a rhythm on , the stage With a huge stick She had 3 Just released To Bring You My Love and
l she worked her way through most of
the album's hypnotic spell in a manner that was as transfixing as it was menaCing, The fact that Tricky was the Support act added to the malevolent atmosphere
So, it comes as a bit of a shock when Pl strolls onto stage with her band much like she's iust nipping down the shops for a pint of milk In place of the glam vamp dress is a plain black skirt and top, where there was an unsettling mystique there is the girl next door and all around the Barrowland comes the unmistakable SOund of besotted male
an unspoken, pregnant threat
Pl has a reputation for not always being entirely at ease With herself and often it seemed as thOugh as it was this disgwet which fuelled a morbid
theatrical layers that used to shroud .
with fewer of the gothic flourishes
and without the incandescent rage of
creatiwty If this new, no frills, no stage persOna Polly is the real one (and at a distance of 60 metres and separated by =
2000 other audience members, this has to be pure conjecturel then perhaps there’s some truth in the old saw about misery making the best music (Jonathan Trew)
live reviews MUSIC
Rod Stewart Glasgow: SECC, Sun 6 Dec ink
Difficult though it may be for some of our younger readers to comprehend, time was, before ’D’Ya Think I'm Sexy?', Bryan Adams duets, plastic vrsor caps, satin thongs and rolled-up pink ijkEl sleeves, when Rod Stewart was cool.
This was in the 70s when Rod was a raw-boned, messianic rebel, a velveteen dandy hybrid of Mr Punch and the Artful Dodger (With a pinch of Marilyn Monroe) who happened to be the best white SOUl Singer this COuntry's ever produced, his VOice soaring still in that strata between the heavy heart and sass of Otis Redding and the sweet, sad grace of Sam Cooke.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that he has got lazy and lost himself to the cold, bleak office party of the soul, spending the last two decades bothering housewives with his bagpipe gunars and lachrymose adult rock. But now, dammit, Uncle Rod wants his cred back, hence his recent Shine 6-esque album of hip covers.
Sadly, ineVitably, any hopes of artistic rebirth are shot down like a lead flamingo as soon as his suffocatineg tight band roll into a paunchy, boogified version of ’Cigarettes And Alcohol' that'd shame FranCis ROSSI. Indeed, these AO Rockers shave each and every classic (and he plays 'em all) of all subtlety With Rod, in magnificent v0ice, failing to transcend the blandness of it all (the sole exception being 'Tom Traubert's Blues' which is Qtiite, quite lovely).
But, this being the tWisted cosmos of Stadium Rock in all its big-screen, football-puritin’ glory, the show remains fulsomely profeSSional and surreally entertaining (even the interminable drum and sax solos exert a morbid fasCinationi and the largely female, rabidly partisan crowd lap it up, greeting the exeCrable 'lvlotown Records’ With the same unquestioning enthusiasm as the sublime 'Maggie May'
The granite fact is that the man's cheated us JUSI as much as he’s cheated himself and had he not spent the last twenty years being so careless and complacent he’d almost be Sympathetic. A nuclear waste of talent (Paul Whitelaw)
Rod Stewart: Iumpen
. at 7 " STAR RATINGS l * 1k v: if: at Unmissable 9: 'k a: so Very 00d l i. tr it Wort a shot l w 1? Below average at You've been warned
17 Dec 1998—7 Jan 1999 THE llST 55