LIVE REVIEW NME Premier Tour
Glasgow: Queen Margaret Union, Mon I7 Jan 3?. 1‘s: 7;:
The poet TS. Eliot once wrote 'April is the cruelest month'. Now, while Eliot was undoubtedly a great exponent of his art, he'd obviously never visited Glasgow in mid- January. Cruel? It’s positively desperate, a dead-end waste land starved of entertainment. All is not lost, however. Step forth the NME who have come to lighten up the post-New Year gloom with a diverse selection of the cream of the UK's current pop crop.
First up are the hotly tipped Coldplay, fresh faced and already frighteningly polished. Singer Chris Martin sits at his piano, looking for all the world like John Power's younger, politer, uni-educated brother, knocking out pleasant, unassuming melodic rock — there are vague echoes of Jeff Buckley, The Beatles and (God forbid) Billy Joel. It should also be noted that a
French knickers: Les Rythmes Digitales
piano-playing lead singer is not always a good thing. Still, he's marginally less irritating than Ben Folds.
Campag Velocet are the absolute antithesis of Coldplay, a bit of rough for the student masses, delivering a warped blend of Bummed-era Happy Mondays, The Fall and Flowered Up, with sneering John Lydon-style vocals. Frontman Pete Voss is a graduate of the Liam Gallagher school of stage dynamics, a loping, sloping part-man, part-gibbon. Even his tambourine- shaking has attitude and his dislocated, skunked-up rants are 100 times more entertaining than Coldplay's fine-tuned MOR professionalism.
At this point I have to confess I've always had a problem with Les Rythmes Digitales and their insanely cheery (yet evil) brand of retro—80$ electro-kitsch. They are undeniably brilliant at what they do and even the bar staff indulge in misguided attempts at body popping. However, as someone sadly old enough to remember the mid-80$ first-hand, there's something
profoundly depressing about a carrot-topped grinning lunatic regurgitating the soundtrack to my personal adolescent hell. Take it from me, kids, there were some undoubtedly cool elements about the 805 — but Nik Kershaw, syn drums and Level 42-style slap and pop bass shenanigans most certainly were not.
Finally we come to Shack, the critics' darlings, a band who take flight on wings of melodic rapture, despite bearing the collective countenance of a bunch of ageing Scally car thieves. It's all about craft, graft and fine tunes and they have these in almost embarrassing abundance. Tonight, however, they come across like the late, lamented La‘s older, more wayward brothers. Great melodies but nothing really that groundbreaking, or (whisper it) that special. It's dadrock - dadrock of a superior calibre — but dadrock all the same, and if these four bands are to be seriously regarded as the current cutting edge, then we are in serious trouble.
LOCAL LIVES Guernica Edinburgh: The Attic, Sat 8 Ian.
Really, you have to wonder about kids these days. Guernica, four lads with an average age of about fourteen, not so much burst as dribble on stage and proceed to limply struggle their way through some pretty dreadful baggy tunes vaguely reminiscent of Flowered Up on a bad day.
Attitude, energy and invention are all conspicuous by their absence tonight, and overall the gig has the feel of a school assembly, and not a very good one at that. Maybe if they dropped the ridiculous covers ('She Bangs the Drum’ and ’Paint it Black’ ferchrissakes)
and concentrated on pleasing
themselves and not their school chums, they might be worth watching in the future. ’Could do better' on the report cards, lads. (Doug Johnstone)
Jazz Singer's Night Edinburgh: Jazz Joint, Wed 12 Jan.
Going out on a school night can take a bit of an effort, but when gomg out means a trip to the ultra—mellow Jazz Joint then you know you're doing the right thing. Wednesday nights see two of Edinburgh's finest chanteuses taking turn about to caress you with their smoky tones, and as last night was Cathie's Rae's night off, we had the sassy Subie Coleman putting the ’aaaah’ in jazz. Backed by drums, double bass and keyboards, classic tracks like 'It Ain’t Necessarily So' and
'What A Difference A Day Makes’ were
LIVE ROUND-UP Celtic Connections
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Tue ll—Sun l6 Jan.
Pipe dream: Xose Manuel Budino
Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall is the focus again for Celtic Connections —
44 THE “ST 20 Jan-3 Feb 2000
that twenty-day orgy of music that uses 'celtic' in the most inclusive way possible, incorporating everything from Morricone's film themes to Clarissa Dickson Wright's cooking to Nashville's country star Beth Nielson Chapman.
On the opening weekend, the big Gae/ic Women concert had more than a touch of Nessville about it. On the negative side — when you use a scratch band and guitar-based rhythms to set a song in a middle-of-the-road idiom it can crush the life out of it. Ann Lorne Gillies was not so different. She came on, fingered some piano arpeggios as accompaniment, and reminded us of that Mod style of rendition that is, happily, becoming less fashionable. Mairi Morrison, and Anna Murray were confident in a more contemporary approach, but it took Mary Smith, unaccompanied, and Margaret Stewart, with Allan MacDonald’s smallpipes, to show us the profound beauty condensed in Gaeldom’s great heritage.
Galway's De Dannan have a seemingly throwaway talent, with the ability to churn out the tunes, accompanied by some brilliant bodhran and great singing. The sound
in the Fruitmarket was not wonderful and the place, as always, was freezing, but two impromptu dancers warmed us and themselves up. Cheerful, moving, invigorating stuff.
Saturday’s Concert Hall capacity audience were treated to Kepa Junkera and a bag of Basque accordion — and giant xylophone — tricks as a warm-up to La Bottine Sour/ante. The Quebecois band’s outrageous Showmanship, and musicianship, worked it’s usual wonder — this time frontman Yves declaiming impenetrable poetry, the rasping, farting bass trombone, the thousands of feet per minute hitting the deck percussively. Guest dancer Sandy Silva lithe as a cat, and with a feline ability to land on her feet at the precise nanosecond.
The lingering memory is of the superb afternoon concert by Galician piper Xose Manuel Bud/no and his band. With the transforming voice of Mercedes Peon, they performed an hour or so of deeply moving, highly musical and carefully arranged music that nourished the soul.
(Norman Chalmers) I See page 76 for Celtic Connections previews.
the epitome of cool. The excellent acoustics ensured a warm, intimate feel which the sunably laid-back audience lapped up. And no, nobody wore black polonecks or said 'nice'. (Louisa Pearson)
Edinburgh: Liquid Rooms, Sat 15 Jan. Local ska outfit, PrOi, are experiencing a fraught period of rnuSical transition. The lofty status of being the capital's premiere ska tribute band is clearly not enough for these boys and so having taken the demon to diversify, they’ve chosen to sound like Squeeze.
This is a little reckless really, because when Proi hit their stride playing ska standards and infectious bouncy skank originals, complete wrth on-stage synchronised pogo jumping, they're a solid good time band. By the end of the set, the crowd has moved onto the dancefloor to indulge in some shameless retro moves, having forgiven the dubious new material turned out earlier in the performance. These new songs, without exception, pitifully reproduce your favourite Squeeze songs, thus proving that change is not always a good thing.