live reviews


Afghan Whigs EdinbLJrgh: Liquid Room, Tue 13 Jul

A word of advice: don't go near the Afghan Whigs if you're a nun, involuntarily single, or part of that strange True Love Waits virginity cult. Because if - as The Artist put it when he was still Known As Prince - you ain't been getting served, you're just going to suffer agonies of frustration. The Whigs exist in no small part to exalt and glorify the sexual act. Frontman Greg Dulli is not one to tolerate polite clapping and British reserve; he wants to 'see some asses wiggling', and he's not above showing the crowd how it's done. Considering he's built like a prizefighter and sweating like a hog, it’s a miracle he can come on like a Vegas showgirl on Viagra and maintain his cool; but this is a man blessed with movie star charisma and a libido of Barry White proportions. The snatches, steals and cover versions that punctuate the set reflect this; from Stevie Wonder to 2 Live Crew via Prince and Madonna, Dulli's reference points amount to a joyous celebration of the liberating power of the lowdown filthy dirty funk pop soul song. Not that he really needs to draw upon the genius of others; his own songs, especially those drawn from the recent album

Praise be: The Afghan Whigs

1965, are uniformly silky, swaggering exercises in practised seduction. Rather than simply rattling through their own back catalogue, though, the Whigs put on a real show, keeping the temperature up between songs

with what would be called ‘funk workouts' if that didn’t

sound so dismally Jamiroquaiesque.

Dulli's effortless star quality makes for a show that would be worth watching even if the music was below par. But his formidable voice, which runs the gamut from a sweetly soulful croon to a ragged roar and back again, and the instinctive tightness and evident enthusiasm of his fellow musicians, constitute one of the best live packages in the business. The rapturous reaction when the band let rip with 1965's twin

highlights, 'Somethin’ Hot' and ‘66’, is no more than their due. The album that marked Dulli’s return from the wilderness of clinical depression and heroin addiction is a sizzling, soulful, funkedoup masterpiece; live, both its joyous gospel-tinged abandon and its darkly sexual subtexts come into their own. Older songs dwell largely on the shadowy side of the street, but balanced against the redemptive passion of the new material, they're illuminated and enhanced. Comprising a frontman of unparalleled skill and presence, musicians at the peak of their powers and material that places the Whigs firmly beyond the reach of the majority of their peers, this was the live music equivalent of silk sheets and champagne; surrender was the only option. (Hannah McGill)

Damien Jurado/ I Handsome Family Glasgow: Chambers Bar, Wed 14 Jul

Peerless from Seattle

It may be the unlikeliest of venues - Chambers Bar is more of a home to quizmasters than tunemeisters but then Damien Jurado is the unlikeliest of folk-pop geniuses. Perched on his stool, armed with acoustic guitar and harmonica, strumming out the tunes in checked shirt and white t-shirt, it’s hard not to see him as a musical version of John Goodman. Not quite the bum in Roseanne who would remove himself from that stool only to rescue another cold one from the fridge -- more the amiable demon from Barton Fink. Jurado is chatty and friendly between the songs, only to mist the knife when he gets inside his lyrics. His encore was the perfect example an upbeat number during which his leg shook to his rhythm while his words told of someone in the wooch svvinging from a tree by their neck.

His recent album Rehearsals For Departure is the source of much of his live set and contains a lot of this kind of thing. He happily sings of Ohio,

tragedy, love affairs lost or impossible, finding out your loved one has got married. All these raw emotions are distilled by the most delicate of vocal deliveries and cruellest of chord changes

If there is a minor gripe to be had, it may be that Jurado doesn’t do himself full justice on stage. The moments on record when the heart soars or breaks the most comes with the lashing of orchestral strings or the mournful hum of a horn section. None of that happens here and the sense of loss occurs as much in the listener's expectant ear as in the misery of the lyrics.

The Handsome Family, on the other hand, appear never to have had a dark moment in their entire lives. The pair are too busy flirting or slagging each other off to think of the magic and misery of life. To Damien Jurado, they are either the perfect antidote or an inappropriate adjunct.

(Brian Donaldson)

live reviews MUSIC


Edinburgh: The Bongo Club, Wed 14 Ju .

The trouble with a band having a 'concept' is that there's a real danger of it slipping into the wrong side of comedic. Throughout Badgewearer’s epically proportioned set, there was a horrible sense that Derek Smalls would appear and say those fateful words, 'This is our new direction - we hope you like it.’ The narration accompanying their film backdrop (telling the story of a space-virus which wipes out the human race) was practically inaudible. Technical problems aside, the band were tight, and while their experimental, instrumental sound was . . . intriguing,

. after over 90 minutes, the phrase

'musical masturbation' can’t help but spring to mind. (Kirsty Knaggs)

Suburbia Cas Rock, Sat 10 Jul.

With their tortured guitar flourishes, cerebral lyrics and edgy stage presence, it's no wonder Suburbia have garnered a phalanx of Radiohead comparisons. But, thankfully, there's more to these young west-coasters than just whining introspection. Take lead singer Ainslie Henderson, a storm-voiced troubador who leaps and flexes like a jello-spined Michael Stipe. Then there's their ability to wring every ounce of melodic gravitas from the standard guitar-bass- drum formula. The occasional lapse into self-absorbed bombast aside, Suburbia possess a drive and energy rare in a band so young. REM’s producer is a fan. Now, there's no reason why you shouldn't be too. (Sarah Dempster)

The Goldenhour Glasgow: King Tut's, Sat 17 Jul.

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(l ‘f The Goldenhour have obviously been around the block a few times. But though they may not be international bright young things, their maturity manifests itself in a tight, muscular sound; poppy but not too breezy, catchy but not effervescent.

A spry cover of Definition of Sound's ’Pass The Vibes' complements rather than obscures their own material; think lush, Hammond-heavy grooves, or James Taylor Quartet with Phil Mitchell on Vocals.

So it's fitting they should headline the launch of Tower Records' new ’No Music, No Life‘ EP (out 2 Aug). After years in'the wilderness, now might just be the Goldenhour's time.

(Graeme Virtue)

STARZ'RATINGS . '** 1r Hr Unmissable, **'** very _. ,- .- *** _,_ Unfit? 1., - '. '0“ it x I You’veibe‘eifiiwameg- ..

22 Jul—5 Aug 1999": Liana.