live reviews

POP The Lanterns EdinburghzThe Bongo Club, Thu ll i'vlar ~3- ar

In many parts of the musical world pop has become a dirty word. A kind of shorthand for trite trilling. Suitable enough for the pre pubescent but not really the sort of thing that you would want to have found in your CD rack once your acne had cleared up. It wasn't always this way. Pop used to be a bright, clear feeling that knew no age barriers. But sometime around the start of the 905, this wide-eyed get up and go got up and went, leaving only an anodyne emptiness judged fit only for half-formed tastes.

Leading the crusade to clear pop’s good name and shine its halo are Edinburgh's Lanterns. Twenty- something sisters Gina and Sylvia Rae are the public face of the band, a singing duo from a family steeped in the jazz tradition. Their other sister Cathie hosts a jazz singers night at Kulu’s Jazz Joint in Edinburgh's Henry’s Cellar Bar every Wednesday night.

The other constituent Lantern component is Jim Sutherland, the older back room boy, side stage skulker who writes the songs for the sisters. The multi- instrumental Sutherland has a long history on the traditional music scene. None of them have any track

Light fantastic: The Lanterns

record whatsoever in making pop music. Which begs the question ‘How did they grasp its essentials so well?’

They’ve been fairly compared to everyone from Massive Attack to Dubstar and there are elements from right across pop’s palette in their make-up. They can do warm and sunny on songs like 'Maybe I 00'. Taking turns to give vocal solos before joining together for a chorus of harmonies, the two sisters can't help grinning at one another and it's an infectious vibe that spreads to the crowd. When they finish the song, they get such a burst of applause from the home crowd that Gina starts blushing. It's an almost perfect example of one of pop’s forgotten powers: an indefinable, undeniable feel-good factor.

Alternatively, they seem equally at ease in a more alien soundscape. A couple of songs start with a jarring cacophany which just makes the Raes' voices sound all the smoother in contrast. Their lyrics operate in the opposite way everything sounds cosy, but often the sweetness hides a pointed lyrical barb. Pop can have teeth after all.

Translating this nous into hard record sales may prove less easy as a slightly disappointing chart position for their debut single 'High Rise Town’ confirmed. Still, it’s early days yet and The Lanterns could well become the new beacons on the pop block. (Jonathan Trew)


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Pogo schtick: Symposium

aural attack of full-on, fuck-off rock, and the crowd go spring-heeled bonkers. There's a scene in the Stephen King-scripted moVie, Cat’s Eye, where nicotine addicts who refuse to give up the fags are placed in a room with electrified walls and floor This gig has a similar effect, wrth singer Ross Cummins and the crowd seemingly in competition to pogo highest and fastest

Of course, Symposium have a lot to prove At one time they were punkier peers of the Stereophonics and it looked like their unreconstructed

Symposium & Fungus

Glasgow: King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Thu I

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Naming your band :‘lllltjllS is just asking to have your ievieixxs liberally sprinkled With furigoizf 7"thirties, lLtll rest asStired you Will fintl no lll~’,i'.l|(f‘/ old toadstool gags oi spuncus spore jokes here Fungus (it-serve better than that This band have just sig ted to Food records, home at Blur and idlevvild, and demonstrate a similar knack for iiiixnig tip power and iiieicmlv Charismatic lath'lrnates, the

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presence needs a lot of work, but they make up for it with a si')a(;c~?iic)pper- load of enthusiasm. Their set (an be summed up With one word bouncy Sadly, the crowd remain unmoved by such a fine display of perkiness, refusing to show the slightest sign of encouragement. C’men, people, give these magic mushrooms a chance and they might grow on you. D'Oh'

If the crowd were lethargic before, With the entrance of Symposium, it becomes immediately apparent that they were savmg themselves for the main event Right from the word go, the headliners unleash a formidable

li(?8\’|()5|ly might make a similar mainstream breakthrough Now, however, having decided to leave l-xlushroom after it was booght by Rupert Murdoch, they find themselves saris record deal and a million miles from the charts. Still, they always made a lot more sense live than on record, and are more than conVincing tonight This is what a good gig is all about: an up-for-it crowd, great music and enough energy to power the county for a few days, so that when it’s all over you wonder wheie the hell the time went Symposium promised a hell of a show They delivered. (Pviartainn Russell)


The Radio Sweethearts

Glasgoszhe 13th Note Cafe, Mon 15 Mar.

This fortnightly reSidency sees Glasgow's premier country band serve up an appealing mixture of original material and covers, including songs by Hank Williams and Bob Dylan (by way of The ByrdS).

The Radio Sweethearts, recently featured on John Peel’s Sound Of The Suburbs programme for Channel 4, are a five-piece act who offer a brand of country which is more traditional than the fashionable verSions, (steel) peddled by Wilco, Will Oldham and the like.

Stiil, what you get is a hugely enjoyable set of head-shakers and heart-breakers delivered by a frontman in a spookily convincmg twang which has its origins considerably further south than Pollokshields.

If you hanker after great Vibes, great beer and great music then check out The Radio Sweethearts' regular slot. This is a c0untryside lobby it’s worth paying attention to. (Peter Ross)

Pigpen Edinburgh: Cas Rock, Sat 13 Mar.

On the cover of their single 'Stay Low' (see reView, page 43) Pigpen have given us a snapshot of rural life as a camouflaged country type prepares to shoot some ducks out of the sky. Live on stage, the quartet are equally incendiary. Stopping for breath only to perform a tender Brian Wilson cover, the three lead—men take turns on the vocals. Each could be a contender for a spot on Stars In Their Eyes as a Blur, a Verve and a Bare Naked Lady (who perhaps unvvisely donned a Fat Bastard T—shirt).

lvlusically, they truly kick arse, fortuitously never allowmg their walls of sound to get in the way of a killer melody. While on record they don’t quite catch fire, live they're a blast. (Brian Donaldson)

astrid Edinburgh: The Attic, Sat 13 Mar.

Ever fallen in love With some band you shouldn't have fallen in love With? astrid c0uld be pesky Scooby Doo kids (fringes and apple pie grins) and you must have heard this kind of 603 sweetness a shmillion times before But, hell, they play the most barnstorming gig since a young Teenage Fanclub showed up to put fun back on the agenda. Comparisons with the Fannies are not entirely spurious and if you can write a song With a la- la-la chorus that makes a grown cynic go gooey, you're onto something. Their new single is called 'lt's True' and it rings With the sound of the La’s, Simon and Garfunkel and Dodgy, There’s rightly a buzz about this lot, cock. (Rodger Evans)


u « »~ Unmissable

>- Very good

a Worth a shot

Below average You've been warned