Sonic middle youth: Beastie Boys
Glasgow: SECC, Mon 3 May at a it a
The Beastie Boys are one of pop's most intriguing propositions. Making their name in the 805 as idiot savant frat brats as likely to slurp a keg as bust a rhyme, they have graduated to big league critical kudos without attending a single class at the old skool of hip hop dues-paying. They have avoided the Vanilla Ice problem of being white guys in a black man’s game and dodged the related stumbling block of authenticity. They never claimed to be from the streets, so it's not an issue.
Now Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock are a unique force in pop — serious artists who know how to have a laugh. Inside the SECC they're collecting for Kosovo and making speeches for non-violence, but there's a 40ft tall inflatable robot outside serving as a very visible reminder that this is still the band who started out as poster boys for Budweiser. They may now take the world’s troubles on their shoulders, but they're still ready to fight for their right to party at the drop of a
have got the crowd moving with their vibey afro-centric hip hop, the Beastie Boys bound on and launch into ‘Super Disco Breakin‘, a song that makes a virtue out of eating French toast. Tonight’s performance takes place on a round stage in the middle of the auditorium, an arrangement that lets the three MCs leap around to full effect and get relatively intimate with most of the standing crowd. We're close enough to fully appreciate their geek chic get ups — short-sleeve shirts, clip-on ties and crap slacks. They look like a Dilbert strip if Scott Adams had been raised on a steady diet of cheap booze and Run-DMC.
The set draws from three styles. There’s the hip hop of 'Body Movin', the snot-nosed thrash of 'Tough Guy' and Blaxploitation funk typified by ‘Sabrosa’. But the best comes when they draw the various strands together. 'Sabotage’ is a perfect synthesis of rock and hip hop, Mixmaster Mike's white-knuckle cutting complementing the sheer energy of the distorted guitar and Ad-Rock's hi-octane delivery. 'lntergalactic’, meanwhile, is such a great crossover pop hit that it transcends genre and is met with a level of crowd hysteria (and nostalgic robotic
So it is that, after the well-respected Jungle Brothers
dancing) that befits its modern classic status.
OPERA Aida Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sat 8 May
Slave to the rhythm: Lada Biriucov stars as Aida
Just as an opening shot of tartan and heather might state 'this is Scotland', the huge pyramid which faces the audience in the first bars of Scottish
Opera's new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s majestic work Aida leaves no doubt that this is Egypt. The curtain lifts to bare black and bleak walls, interrupted by a metallic column and matching bench. As Ramfis (high priest) and Radames (captain of the Egyptian guard) sing of how the Ethiopians are about to attack, it becomes clear that this may be Egypt, but it is certainly not a production which is likely to appeal to traditionalists.
Directed and designed by Antony McDonald, this Aida is gimmicky and, if we were all smart enough to interpret the relevance of its bizarre idiosyncrasies, maybe it is very clever too. For example, why do the Egyptians keep their sandWiches in Tupperware boxes? Answer: because Tupperware started through pyramid selling. This obscure reference only becomes apparent Via another critic who was told, in turn, by an usher.
Desirable though the clean cut lines of stage and costume design may be, they are, however, unsympathetic to the singers. Although Moldowan
soprano, La'da Biriucov (making her Scottish Opera debut as Aida) has a wonderfully powerful, rich v0ice, her shortcomings of rather too SlaVic Italian pronunciation and, likewise, a personalised style of stage movement are made more prominent by the austere set. Of all the cast, it is really Only Rosalind Plowright as Amneris, daughter of the Egyptian king and Aida's rival in love, who seems truly able to respond fully, musically and dramatically, to Antony McDonald's intentions
Still, Aida is ultimately saved by Scottish Opera's constant strengths: this is yet another production in which the chorus and orchestra are simply superb. The male v0ices as priests invoking their war god and the outstanding oboe solo in Act III are but two specific examples of the exemplary finesse of these world class musical resources. Conductor Emmanuel Joel is to be congratulated. (Carol Main)
a Aida IS at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 73 & Sat 29 (mat) May, Thu 3, Tue 8 & Sat 72 Jun, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 76 81 Fri' 78 Jun.
live reviews MUSIC
LOCAL LIVE The Newtown Grunts 8: Cinéfilm Glasgow: The 13th Note Club The two winners of a recent battle of the bands competition run by The List in conjunction with Radio Scotland's Beat Patrol and Jam Factor A studios get a chance to strut their triumphant stuff tonight. Glasgow's Cinefilm have regulation indie fringes and songwriting that transcends the generic. Layers of guitars and vocal harmonies suggest early REM, but they also have something of The Go- Betweens’ sensitivity. ’Telephone Operator' is enchantingly skewed pop like Jonathan Richman used to make. The Newtown Grunts could never be accused of being sensitive. Their ska- punk is custom-made for leaping about in the moshpit, not moping in corners, while chugging guitar lines and occasional comedy lyrics recall The Undertones if Feargal Sharkey had been born in Glenrothes and raised on a steady diet of cider. Truly, the Grunts are the Twiglets of pop — they go down better with booze. (Peter Ross)
Huckleberry & Imperial Racing Club Edinburgh: Cas Rock
Shoegazers have been dead for some time. Welcome in the new dawn of the ceiling starer. Mind you, Edinburgh’s Imperial Racing Club do have possibly the tallest bass player in rock, so his viewing choice is limited. The vocalist, meanwhile, is a little fella living the rock star myth — to the extent that he seems to have one foot glued on the monitor. Still, the punk version of 'Daydream Believer' is an inspired closer.
Their Human Condition labelmates Huckleberry have the fine fortune to have a blazing madman as their leader — Vic, who threatens to kick arses at any lack of audience jigging. They also have an organ sound to die for, and at least one wondrous, tender ballad. (Brian Donaldson)
Subrosa Glasgow: The 13th Note Cafe
While parading a sound so tight that it would give a gnat’s chuff a run for its money, beats Portishead would be proud of and beautiful falsetto backing vocals, Subrosa are more than just a sum of their parts. A distinct sound transcends their apparent influences — Beck, The Who and Radiohead. Wig-out rock moments are tempered by a constant groove, but they retain enough rough edges to attract your average indie kid. The set is a mixed bag of delights, the low-slung, hip hop blues of ’Afterglow' being a particular highlight. This, slammed against chunky, Pete Townsend-esque rock and organ-led torch songs, shows a diversity lacking in many bands several years their senior. (Mark Robertson)
STAR RATlNGS * a: it * it Unmissable st it * * Very it it «Jr Wort a shot * 1» Below average it You've been warned
13-27 May 1999 THE [181’ 41