live reviews

Pulp Edinburgh: Queen’s Hall, Tue 31 Aug.


So, no 'Common People', then. No 'Babies'. No mock-baroque hand gestures, no seedily seductive eyebrow-based insinuations and no hip-defying high-kicks. This is Pulp Mk II; stripped-down, sober, sombre and not a little difficult.

1998's This Is Hardcore was a curt retort to the radio-massaging popularity of Different Class that replaced pop accessibility with a near-impenetrable ennui. Critics were divided, but the public hated it. So where now? Tonight has been billed ‘A Quiet Revolution’, and the publicists are at pains to point out that it is not a 'normal' gig. It is, they tell us, a chance to hear as-yet untitled material that the band debuted at a recent, one-off show in Venice. Oh yes. The atmosphere is thus a mite expectant, with hardcore Hardcore fans rubbing boas with old-

school His ’n’ Hers devotees.

Jarvis and band shuffle onstage and promptly disappear. Three giant Venetian blinds surround the stage and render them completely invisible. Three songs in, we're still a mass of craning necks and straining eyes. During 'Quiet Revolution' - a dark semi-acoustic strum the blinds finally click open. Great! Only to reveal nothing more than Pulp's silhouettes. Doh! Indeed, it's only during their final newie - a monumental white-hot jam, possibly titled 'Sunrise' - that the blinds are eventually hoisted up.

This may have worked among the canapes and cravats of Pulp's Venice show; but here, in front of baffled fans, the blinds seem misjudged. Not that their presence is a disaster. Lending a detached air to the proceedings, they're a reminder of Pulp's art-rock beginnings - a time when their raison d'étre was boundary-blurring experimentalism, rather than the wilful commercialism of Different Class. Their new songs continue this theme. ‘Sunrise' pays masterful homage to the droning

Blinding: Pulp

soundscapes of Television and the Velvet Underground, while a song dedicated by Cocker to 'all the ornothologists in the audience' picks up the sparse ballad baton first brandished on debut album It. They're great. It's like 'Disco 2000' never happened. Even when Different Class gets its sole airing in the form of instant- crowd-pleaser 'Sorted For E's And Wizz’, the curtain- twitching, suburban dramas of Pulp legend appear a distant memory: quaint souvenirs from Britpop's now- redundant glory days.

Pulp finish with ‘Dishes’. a track from This Is Hardcore that sees Cocker abandon his stony-faced demeanour in favour of some rump-shaking action. It's dark, bleak and as downbeat as a tramp’s last dime. The audience love it. Pulp may have abandoned all concerns of commercial success, but they're all the better for it. Looks like we're in for some stormy weather. (Sarah Dempster)

wonder if the music matters at all. Sure, Sleater-Kinney are cool they’re three hot chicks with a lot of connections and a nice line in guitar- based rawk. But pay attention to the tunes rather than the noise, peek behind attitude and image and reputation by association, and you begin to see the flaws.

It's not that Sleater-Kinney are bad at what they do. Over-adrenalised punk pop fury is their bag, baby, and they're a threefold Miuccia Prada of rock and roll design. It's just that, save

ROCK REVIEW Sleater-Kinney

Glasgow: 13th Note Club, Tue 31 Aug. skirt

Sleater-Kinney are pant-wettingly, incontestably, devastatingly cool. They co-founded the school of riot-grrrl indie rock. They are kookie and wild and don't believe in bass guitar. They are the perennial support act for the high priest of illegally sexy Americana, r Mr Jon Spencer, and his mighty fine "Blues Explosion. To berate them is a crime.

38 THE UST 9—23 Sep 1999

flandbagged: Sleater-Kinney

And yet berate them I must. Tonight's appearance is a high-profile affair for Glasgow's fawning, USAholic Io-fi kids. Bowie-driven anti-heroes the Yummy Fur have whipped them up to a state of pre-mental tension, the cooler-than- thou 13th Note elite have left their reservations at the door, and when Sleater-Kinney bounce on stage, the crowd bounce back.

In fact, they’re too busy bouncing to think. Because as Corin and crew launch into an attack on love, men and rock 'n' roll anathema, and the kids show their appreciation, you begin to

for a bright red lipstick and a tampon or two, Sleater-Kinney’s satchel is one devoid of content. They steamroll their way through a five-year career of crowd-pleasing oldies and 1999's The Hot Rock furious double-trouble guitar, frantic drums, screams from Corin Tucker's rocky soul - yet manage to make every song sound like a remix of the last. Not that it matters. Sleater-Kinney could play a recorder and clarinet set for all the ever-moshing kids would care. ‘You guys rock!’ screams an effervescent fan. But of course. They are Sleater- Kinney. Sleater Kinney are cool.

(Nicky Agate)

LOCAL LIVE Empire Builder

Glasgow: 13th Note Club, Mon 30 Aug.

And lo, there was melody. Empire Builder have always been the purveyors of somewhat difficult songwriting - mixing various rhythms, keys and tunings in single songs - and tonight once again sees them in an oblique mood. However, it's apparent that they've isolated and amplified their more melodic aspects, and the resultant set is a rollercoaster ride of tunesmanship: from Steven Ward’s stark, minimalist guitar figures to all- out glorious noise, and back again. In addition, excellent songs like ’I Am Vasco Da Gama' and debut single 'Waters Of The Orient' seem to have a pent-up, urgent intent which is released in controlled, beautiful bursts. It just goes to show that you don't necessarily need a calculator to understand math-rock. (Jan F. Zeschky)

Odeon Beat Club/Just Another Dream Glasgow: 13th Note Club, Sun 5 Sep.

Debut gigs can be a hit or miss experience - either the fledgling band discovers that all their studio time amounts to nought on stage, or the first buzz of centre-of-attention adrenaline makes for a charged performance. Thankfully, Odeon Beat Club fall into the latter category; their admittedly unoriginal but interesting brand of guitar-powered melodic pop always sounds like the product of genuine talent rather than overpractice.

The spread of songs over their short set is good as well, from the straightforward opener ‘Mistakes ‘R' Us’, through the funky falsetto of 'The Diary Of A Dead Socialist‘, to the unnamed closer tonight’s best song, thanks to innovative bass work and intertwining vocal hooks that almost borders on the beautiful. Not a bad debut, by any means.

On the other hand, quite what is to be expected of a band that has a name like an 805 coming-of-age flick for synthetic American teens is best not left to the imagination. When Just Another Dream start playing, you know something is wrong, and it doesn't take long to discover what it is: lethargic sports-punk at its grisliest.

To be fair, Just Another Dream could be construed as competent pub-rock; they definitely know how to play their instruments. But, to be brutally honest, the music itself is appalling and the overall performance borders on the embarassing. Their kicks and posturing are out of time and rusty with the first signs of rheumatism; they like abusing members of the audience; they play a cod-reggae song called 'Skank' and another called ’Prisoner Of Love'. Taxi! (Jan F. Zeschky)

STAR RATINGS ' *hbksk Unmissable timid: Very good in Worth a shot «I: *, Below average * You've been warned