live reviews



Edinburgh: Corn Exchange, Tue 7 Dec *ahhkir

Edinburgh's newest live music venue is so new the paint isn't yet dry, but Blur are happy to christen it. ‘Here we go, then: all the singles, in chronological order,‘ says Damon. And that‘s what the boys do. It‘s back to the baggy days of 1990 with the debut, ‘She's So High‘, which doesn‘t sound nearly as shoegazery at it did on vinyl. The audience turns up the volume for 'There‘s No Other Way’, the opening chords of which remind us that The Stone Roses' John Squire wasn‘t the only indie pop kid knocking out inspired guitar licks.

Before they get underway with number three, ‘Bang', Damon moans, ‘We stopped playing this one just after we put it out, because it‘s a bit shit. But we‘ve got to play it, because that‘s what we're doing.’ But him and the band, they all luv it; clearly tonight's a joy for them. Later, Damon gets reflective about

the band‘s history, strange periods and all that, but thankfully cuts himself short with: ‘Ah, fuck that’, and gets on with the next song. Still, it does make you think about what an interesting - but not pretentious - exper- iment the singles tour is. They do have to play every- thing, crap and classics, in a set order; they're at the mercy of their recording history. But ‘Bang', like every other song in the set, turns out just fine in fact, very


‘Popscene‘, ‘For Tomorrow‘, ‘Chemical World' and ‘Sunday Sunday' whizz by, just like the intervening three years. Then they arrive at the night's hands down (or up in this case) crowd pleasers: ‘Girls 8: Boys‘ and ‘Parklife‘, with ‘To The End‘ sandwiched in between. It‘s such a winning mix of punk thrash and eccentric 60$ rock that you begin to wonder if Blur are infusing their back cata-

A singular show: Blur

logue with the cockney rockney sound.

And on we go: ‘End Of A Century‘, ‘Country House‘

’T he Universal‘, ‘Stereotypes', ’Charmless Man‘, and then the boys are off stage. But you haven't finished yet; what about the blur and 13 album singles? Saved for the encore, which begins with 'Beetlebum', fol- lowed by the whoopy ‘Song 2‘, ‘On Your Own‘ and ‘M. O. R.‘ There‘s no choir for ’Tender‘ so Damon asks every-

one to singalonga with him, and we comply. ‘Coffee +

lower key finale.

TV' brings the gig to an appropriately excessive climax, which just leaves ‘No Distance Left To Run‘, a lovely

So, Blur, nine years on, all tunes present and correct. No fuss about a decade of great singles. What we want now is what London punters got just one night of: the flipside tour with all B-sides. (Miles Fielder)


Glasgow: SECC, Thu 9 Dec

****/** As if it wasn’t obvious from the burger

outlets and punters-as-cattle refreshments bars that we are in the SECC tonight, and that we are here to be entertained, the point is hammered home by the spotlit lone piper who takes the stage immediately before James begin their set. Nothing we like better than having our own dismal cartoon culture thrown back at us, is there?

James’s arrival onstage signifies a distinct upturn in tonight’s events,

50 THE U81 16 Dec 1999—6 Jan 2000


Flying high: James

though; not only does it finish off the piper, but also rids the auditorium of the remaining echoes of Cast and their sky/high/fly/why rhyming pub-rock inevitability. From the opener ’Laid’ onwards, James appear to be having a good time, comfortable with their huge status and with the continuing Stipe-ification of Tim Booth. The Eno effect has done good things for their sound on ’Millionaires', as it did on ‘Laid' and 'Wah-Wah’. Warm synths wash over anthemic/melancholic songs, and Booth's voice gets treated like a separate instrument, winding through the songs with or without megaphone.

Now officially post-successful - what with a Greatest Hits in at number one last year they drop in the big ones when no one’s looking. Five songs in, ‘Sit Down' flutters innocently past. The big responses are saved for a manic ’Stutter’, ’Sometimes’ and a white-hot ’Sound’, during which the folk-punk roots of the band show through despite the cutting edge ZooTVesque stage set.

Nothing, however, beats tonight’s piece de resistance: During the first encore, a single spotlight picks out a solitary Booth, dressed in a mirrorball effect smoking jacket, beams of light piercing the blackness. Music begins and he begins to float upwards, harnessed to an enormous pulley up in the rig somewhere. It’s 'Livin' On A Prayer’ all over again but with ambient mu5icl He swims over an audience who are mesmerised and concerned for his personal safety in equal measure, and after a quick twirl, floats back towards the stage for the end of the song.

A bit more Music For Aircraft Hangars than Music For Airports, then; but venue quibbles aside, James successfully convince those who still need convincing that they are on the good guys’ side. (Hamish Brown)



Glasgow: Barrowland, Sun 5 Nov *iririr

Morrissey may have swapped kitchen sink Salford for sunny California, but tonight he looks very much at home. The stage is a softly-lit, red velvet draped boudoir - the bedsit he always wanted with a few hundred devotees to hang on to his every word. What more could a maligned cult icon ask for?

Old favourites - including an ultra- rare 'Meat ls Murder’ get an airing, while the new songs played mid-set sound like vintage M02. Voice, jawline and posing pirouettes are just as we remember them, and a glimpse of bare flesh plus suggestiver posrtioned banana send the crowd into raptures. Fashion and baldness might have reduced the number of quiffs on dis- play; but this light still hasn't gone out. (Colin Love)

Stereophonics Glasgow: SECC, Fri 3 Dec *‘k‘k

’Don't you dare call them the new Oasis!’ My partner tonight is indignant at the suggestion that the Stereophonics may have even the slightest link to the Mancunian eye- brow phenomenon. Yet looking at the evidence the good looking singer, the 605 retro videos playing on the back- drop, the Lion Rampant-waving 'we love Scotland, we do' crowd-pleasing patriotic bollocks the band have a case to answer.

Perhaps what she can’t understand is that, for the kids dancing in band- endorsed T-shirts, comparing the band to Oasis is just about the greatest com- pliment a hack could bestow. The dif- ference? Tonight the Stereophonics win over the Mani-hat wearing crowd bet- ter than the Gallagher boys ever could. (Alasdair Reisner)

Elvis Costello

Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Tue 7 Dec ****

This performer has mirrored the age of his audience throughout his career, and they in turn have remained loyal to a fault. Exchanging urbane .,uips about his, and their, seniority in years, Costello moved into a mix of recent ballads and earlier material. Accompanied by former Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve, Costello brought an engaging intimacy to this vast venue. A trilogy of ballads under the broad title 'The Delivery Man' dealt with middle-aged female narrators existing in an apparently contented world of marriage, but in fact trapped in rooms full of carefully-caught regrets. The highlight, inevitably, was his rendition of ’Alison’, perhaps the best song of lost love of its generation, which brought a big crowd to a srlence seldom heard in venues of this size. Perhaps we all, male and female, have Alisons of our own. (Steve Cramer)