live reviews

Stereolab Glasgow: The Garage, Fri 29 Oct about

At first, Stereolab's set seems a lacklustre affair. with no trace of the cluttered intricacies to be found on the much maligned 'Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In the Milky Night’ LP. In fact, the first few songs are lost in swampy bass and grating vocals reminiscent of a drunk Petula Clark.

Then, all of a sudden, the band shift up a gear, knocking aside the impression that their talents were restricted to the studio. And, after the shaky start, the ’Lab began to turn the ocasionally irritating microscope intimacy of their recorded output into an energetic series of up-to-eleven workouts.

That is not to say, of course, that their trademark twee-pop sound is abandoned; instead. each song has its most gripping qualities picked out and beefed up to glorious effect. This means that ’French Disko' becomes an irresistable punk pop anthem, and the knowing

Less of your blip: Stereolab

sountrack-funk basslines that just manage to raise a smile on vinyl morphed into sleazy hooks, calling to mind the choppy editing of late-night Channel 5 schedule fillers.

More impressive still was the band's ability to stretch their material to its limits, dragging out grooves with a grimly enjoyable persistence, then dissolving into warped stretches of analogue blips and squiggles. only to delight their audience by charging back into the given song full pelt. Indeed, this clash of wind-downs and build-ups lent the gig the structure of a DJ set by the likes of Tony De Vit, where the crowd are gradually driven forward, teased by the occasional lulls, and end up locked in to the music.

Stereolab, then, prove something of a surprise. managing to transform their pleasently arch - but ultimately uninspiring - recorded output into a fully engaging live performance, without sacrificing any of the subtle complexities that mark them out from the crowd in the first place. (Jack Mottram)


' 1‘ all). My,» ' Past perfect: Joe Strummer

OK, so the new material doesn’t quite measure up to the likes of 'Bankrobber' or the turbo-charged rockabilly of 'Brand New Cadillac'; but in all honesty, how could it? How could most bands hold a candle up to a back catalogue as insanely eclectic and ground-breakineg inspirational as that which The Clash produced?

Solo efforts ’Yalla Yalla', ’Techno D- Day’ and 'Tony Adams’ sound a hundred times better beefed up and belted out live than in their relatively lacklustre studio incarnations. But it's The Clash classics that everyone has come to hear and Strummer and The Mescaleros - who remain tight, funky and focused throughout - deliver them in spades. 'White Man In

Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros

Glasgow: Barrowland, Sat 30 Oct *****

Before we venture any further, let's get one thing clear Joe Strummer is a godhead. It's that simple. Objectivity be damned: this was one of'the most heartfelt, impassioned performances I've had the privilege to witness. With

48 THE LIST 4—18 Nov 1999

the recent resurgence of interest in The Clash, there's been a few critics sniping about Strummer, accusing him of being a washed-out old pub rocker. Ignore them. From the moment he strides onto the stage, it's blindingly obvious he means business. Clad in black, left leg pumping like a pneumatic drill, Strummer is still the archetypal rebel rocker, snarling, ranting, body twitching like a marionette plugged into the mains.

Hammersmith Palais' still sounds amazing, 'Straight To Hell' causes collective jaws to drop and ’London Calling' is as apocalyptic as ever. And when an incendiary rendition of 'l Fought The Law' threatens to blow the roof off, you realise this is no tired rehash of old hits, no hollow retread of past glories. It’s the sound of a musical hero reclaiming his past and celebrating a magnificent legacy.

(Neil Ferguson)

LOCAL LIVES Soundbuggy Glasgow: King Tut's, Thu 21 Oct

Soundbuggy are one of those bands that combine funk-rock rhythms with rock-funk fuzzy wah-wah guitars. There is nothing wrong of course with such amalgamating of musical styles, but adherence to previously established forms can only stifle creativity. Indeed, in the history of this particular mongrel genre, Prince is the only person to produce music of interest. Sadly for the Glasgow three-piece, comparisons to another tiny American are more appropriate. Yes, Soundbuggy sound like Lenny Kravitz.

Admittedly, the group play with a passion and cheery bonhomie absent from the clinical cliche-ridden pap produced by the venerable Len, and are therefore great fun to watch. Hopefully, their recorded output will capture a smidgen of this live energy, rather than merely adding to the tedious-but-popular production line of pseudo-funk. (Jack Mottram)

Astral Glasgow: King Tut's, Sat 23 Oct

While Mogwai are breathing new life into music a few miles east, the other end of the spectrum is at Tut's, digging further into its own grave of yawn.

Here they come now, five boys with early 90$ hairdos and the songs to match. They play two songs of aimless, pre-Screamade/ica Scream, sub-Verve blandness before another with a slightly rousing power chorus, which is subsequently nullified by a guitar solo horrifically reminiscent of Simple Minds. Things go downhill from here, ending with a ’powerful’ climax which is to presumably remind us of the power of music, man. Instead, the overwhelming feeling is one of misanthropy aimed at those who seem intent on ignoring any form of musical progression or innovation.

Tonight's only highlight occurs when your List reporter notices that the singer's red maracas look like an inverted pair of dog's bollocks and realises that irony still exists.

(Jan F. Zeschky)

The Silver Pill Edinburgh: Cafe Royal, Fri 22 Oct.

The personnel of The Silver Pill have been around in various incarnations over the last few years, but now seem to have hit on a possible winning formula. The five piece guitars, keyboards and more guitars format is familiar enough, but thankfully they wring enough new ideas out of the standard format to constitute our undivided attention.

Their shiny-conked vocalist has a voice which could delight if given the chance, their adventures in guitar wizardry taking precedence over any vocal gymnastics.

They have sturdy grasp of dynamics and the music ebbs, flows and crescendos with satisfying weight..The reference points Dinosaur Jr and, inevitably, Radiohead are familiar, but The Silver Pill show enough imagination to avoid slavishly imitating their record collections. (Mark Robertson)