POP Robbie Williams, The Divine Comedy & The
Supernaturals Glasgow: SECC, Thu It Feb s it 3‘: 3%
If this gig was a date, it would be worth getting a new frock for. You'd get to play footsie under the table in the restaurant (The Supernaturals), snog through an arty French flick in the back row of the cinema (The Divine Comedy), and then roll home with a bottle of wine for the main event: rough and tumble, hammer-and-tongs Robbie. The culture clash between The Supernaturals’ bounce-along idiot- p0p and Neil Harmon's peculiar pocket symphonies provides fitting foreplay for a one-man bundle of contradictions with one finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and the rest down his pants.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, there was a cartoon baby who was a cutie in his films but a grouchy primadonna off-camera. There could almost be a similar scam behind the phenomenon of Robbie Williams — an ongoing performance art project by some committed Method actor not afraid to gain or lose a few pounds. Williams seems so desperate to collapse the distance between ’real Robbie' and ‘star Robbie' that it's tempting to
regard his whole persona as an elaborate fake.
Real or not, he's a consummate showman whose audience manipulation is second to none. He tells jokes and self-deprecating little stories, while behind him, projections of newspaper headlines chronicling his rise and fall and resurrection remind that your new best friend is actually a bit of a star. The songs, too, are mixed bags. Sloppy ballads ('Angels’) give way to rock parody ('Let Me Entertain You') and a version of Take
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Angelic upstart: Robbie Williams at the SECC
That's ‘Back For Good' makes a thrash-metal mockery of the original. It's occasionally too confused for comfort - trying to cover all bases inevitably compromises quality. But let‘s face it, with Robbie, as with Madonna, the music doesn’t really matter. The point is the persona: that of a boy so disarmingly genuine, so unpretentious and so well-versed in the art of mass seduction that, by the end of the date, you’re powerless to resist.
ROCK Black Box Recorder
Edinburgh: Cafe Royal, Mon 15 Feb amt
Think of the qumtessential English band and a few candidates spring to mind — The Kinks, The Smiths, The Wurzels. Now Black Box Recorder are tilling the soil of the musical country garden with their minimalist musings on national identity — a glam wrestler wearing ermine in a coal mine adorns the cover of their Eng/and Made Me album.
M "IE "ST 18 Feb—4 Mar 1999
Made in Britain: Black Box Recorder
The whole ethos of Black Box Recorder vocalist Sarah Nixey and gurtarists lolin llerire, ex-Mary Chainer and Luke Harries, formerly of the Auteurs and Baader-Meinhof is a backlash to Cool Britannia, New LabOur, the cult of Diana and all that. They started work on the album the day Tony Blair was elected and it drips With diSillusionrnent, beats With bile. On Eng/arid Made Me, the trio are brash and mean; live, they are more of a whispering menace, threatening to leap out of the semi-darkness. ’Life is unfair, so kill yourself or get over it,’
Nixey intones on the title track — a phrase which encapsulates their morbid schtick. Death is everywhere in material which tackles surcide and murder With relish.
For this acoustic show, they are accompanied live by a projected backdrop — images of a nastier England varying from killers Rose West and Dennis Nielson to Chris Evans and Gazza. There’s a dark side to us all which may manifest itself in egomania, infantility or brutal murder - that would appear to be the gospel according to Luke. While the mum is often uplifting and movrng, attraction is deflected by the images unfolding. Or at least it would have been if the band hadn't cast their large shadow across the screen, making it even more of an effort to concentrate on the obscured images rather than the music itself
This may have been their first gig outside of London, but Black Box Recorder are a convmcing proposition who make sense even outwith their metropolitan heartland. England may have made them, but Scotland thrills to their urban legends too.
LOCAL LIVE Khaya Edinburgh: Cas Rock, Fri 12 Feb.
Khaya can really split an audience. Their manic set prompts some frenzied dancing from a Buster Bloodvessel look-alike, yet some hecklers raise their hackles.
Having opened with a number about losing your rag, what seems to be a nine-year—old stumbles on stage with a roll-up screwed between his lips. Before you can say 'get thee to a nursery,’ this child-like singer has grabbed a mic and leaps around shouting like the lovechild of Ian Curtis and Manda Rin. The string accompaniment is frequently drowned out and the set ends with keyboards being tipped over and guitars meeting the floor in a less than delicate manner.
You’ve got to see this band and their contained chaos. As Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills very nearly said — go find a Khaya gig. (Brian Donaldson)
Peeps Into Fairyland Glasgow: Nice ’n’ Sleazy, Thu It Feb.
On the cusp of releasing a debut limited edition single ('Muddy Water' out now on Roisin with a run of 100) and Peeps Into Fairyland can already command a sizeable audience. True they have been thoroughly endorsed by Idlewild, who cover their 'Palace Flophouse' on the flip of 'When I Argue I See Shapes’, and touched by the hand of the NME, but this band have more than enough talent to justify the crowd. They combine Murmur-era REM (thanks in no small part to a twanging nasal vocal) with the brooding dynamics of Slint, but have a warm, rich sound that leaves them only partially in the shadow of these seminal acts. Plus, they are blessed with a frontman who already displays an understanding of stagecraft. His thousand yard stares and tortured expressions as he prepares to sing have an air of the rock star in waiting about them.
Smackvan & Lacomc Glasgow: Nice 'n’ Sleazy, Sun 7 Feb.
If names were everything, Laconic and Smackvan would be, respectively, slothful shufflers and sonic speedfreaks. But, as it happens, the reverse is true. Laconic, who have just released a single, ’Honey Pays' on their own Transverse label, are a youthful yet cohesive power trio cutting a fun loving indie rock rug with shared male/female vocals and a whizz kid of a drummer who sports a very cool Cleveland Indians t-shirt. Smackvan, by contrast, couldn't have more gravity if they were the house band on Jupiter. Black-clad and hatchet-faced, the band formerly known as The Passkeepers deal in atmospherics rather than energy, brewing a brooding sound topped by a distinctive keening vocal from their shaven-headed singer. (Peter Ross) ‘
STAR RATINGS * * air it 4r Unmissable * 1* M Very od ** * Wort a shot at * Below average it You‘ve been warned