Edinburgh: Liquid Room, Wed 28 Jun ****
It's more than 30 years since lain McGeachy hit the road south from Glasgow to record his first album - the acoustic guitar-driven period piece London Conversation - changed his name to John Martyn, and began a career in music that, if it hasn’t made him rich in worldly terms, has earned the wayward Scotsman critical acclaim and a world-wide following. His latest, umpteenth, album Glasgow Walking nods back to that first one, and sees a return to a songwriting form that reminds us how good the guy can be when he’s not fingering his self-destruct button.
At Edinburgh's packed Liquid Room, he shuffled onstage (he's recovering from an injury) with his band and proceeded to show us that, live, he's still producing some of the most emotionally drenched music around; whether it’s self-penned or, like Julie London's Cry Me A River, put through the Martyn process of moody mumbles, slowly swung and slurred. In physical appearance, the early cherubic Martyn and the more mature wild romantic of Bless The Weather days have long given way, through the music-biz cliches of substance abuse, marital problems and alcoholic over-indulgence, to that of a bloated middle-aged rocker, wired to the moon, stumbling through a performance and, literally, falling off stage. Well, yes, he's been there - with his mucker, jazz bassist Danny Thompson, he co-wrote the book about bad behaviour — but the boy has cleaned up his act. Not to the point of squeakiness, you understand; but as his fans (and they're all ages) at the Edinburgh gig saw, and heard, among the surreal and sometimes unprintable gags, Martyn led a band that was as tight as Gordon Brown, while he himself, electric guitar slung over his Bavarian girth, seemed almost graceful. He certainly laid down
One third of the music cacophony: Appliance
Not exactly Rowan and Martyn's laugh in, but some truly beautiful
songcraft expressed like no other
some impeccable grooves — not for nothing is he regarded as one of the fathers of trip hop — with a superb, relaxed, precise band who all deserve a name check: the rhythm section of Arran Ahmun, drums and percussion and John Giblin, fretless bass, were as firm but fluid as, ah, solid air; Spencer Cozens kept his cool under a silly hat as he handled keys and sequences and Jim Lampi was outrageously brilliant and self-effacing on the Chapman Stick (electric fretboard, like a bodiless guitar but with many more strings). No, they didn’t reprise 'May You Never', but focused on superb tracks like 'Field Of Play’ and 'So Sweet’ from the new album, throwing in some of his huge back catalogue, the odd blues, and even encoring with Portishead’s ‘Glory Box.’
Blurring borders has always been Martyn's stock-in- trade, and if his voice moved from sweet inchoate spiritual plea, to bitter, coruscating Celtic complaint, his articulate guitar spoke as widely. And all that with a dislocated shoulder too. (Norman Chalmers)
about every tune from their superb album Songs For Polarbears, lead singer Gary Lightbody certainly lived up to his name With the manic gurning, contortionist performance of a man too close to his mUSlC for his own good. Stage diving was the order of the day as this tight band took a blow torch to their single 'Starfighter Pilot' and ’Velooty Girl’. Great stuff. Headlining were the odd and tender Alfie, as undefinable as you W0u|d expect from Damon Gough's TWisted Nerve label (as well as his preVious
Appliance * ‘k * * Snow Patrol air a» v: * Alfie * x *
EdinburghzThe VenuezWed 21 Jun.
The Rolling Rock indie revue bandwagon finally came to a standstill at Edinburgh’s piss and vomit stained moody gig inferno on Wednesday night and what better place to alight. First up were Appliance With their strange blend of Yello-esque electronica crossed With a Spaceman 3/Dark Star rhythmic sensibility. This cheerful trio gleefully btiild up tunes
50 "IE lIST 6 20 Jul 2000
from the bare bones of sampled sounds and head for the ever elusive crescendo. What’s more, they've ()bViously learnt a lot from being remixed by Tarwater, because gone is the gauche Mogwai feel of their preVIous incarnation, On this night, however, the student moshers at the front didn’t seem to want to dance to these noiseniks.
They did however shake their combat clad booties to Snow Patrol. Those vigorous thrash monkees on the Jeepster label turned up the temperature With their curious and really qurte mesmerising blend of Celtic funk thrash fusion. Performing iust
backing band), Alfie are a tasty studio band as their new EP ’Bookends' testifies; live however, they are almost as appalling as that other live rock shambles, The Beta Band. Messy and indistinct, With a sound engineer who is so far off his mark be may as well be in Peru, Alfie still managed somehow to take us halfway to the baggy land of pastoral lo-fi Where Pentangle are bigger than the Beatles and Bert Jansch could have Crispian Mills in an eclectic music pub giiiz. With a final stage rush as members of the audience were allowed to play the instruments the night came to an end. A fine time was bad by all. (Paul Dale)
live reviews MUSIC
LOCAL LIVE Wheat/
- Cosmic Rough Riders
Glasgow: 13th Note Club, Mon 26 Jun. Now that the boffins have mapped the human genome, bands like Cosmic Rough Riders Will no longer have to slog away in rehearsal rooms. Instead, by utilising whiskers from Neil Young’s sideburns, nail clippings from the corpse of Gram Parsons and scrapings from the Beach Boys' vocal chords, record companies Will be able to genetically mass produce tedious Summer pop harmonisers ten-a-penny. Yes, the Cosmic Rough Riders are a Mon Santo Teenage Fanclub, continumg the blight of iaunty Glasgow songsmithery that, even when well-executed, has become a distinctly lumpen sub-genre.
Thank goodness for Wheat who, instead of pining up the gurtar pop dots, roughly draft a template on their sonic Etch-a-Sketch, then shake the Whole thing up and start again. The Massachusetts four-piece are close to sublime with their fragile minute-long lullabies; all cracked heartbreak vocals and spartan gUitar outlines. And the subtle Surges of thrum and drone that underpin the slower songs satisfy fans of the experimentation that litters the group's early releases and b-sides. It is when Wheat have a mind to rock, however, that things really start to hot up, thanks to their complete mastery of great niaiestc sweeps, sudden halts and seriously tight tub-thumping. This, then, was a gig of two halves, With the worst and the very, very best of contemporary gwtar mUSIC on show. (Jack Mottram)
Grisly Ghosts Of Guy/ Unique Freakl
The Newtown Grunts Edinburgh: CasRock, Sat 3 Jun.
The Gris/y Ghosts Of Guy screamed angrily through a set which included a punked-up cover of Wool's 'Witch', and a real blast from the past; The Misfits' ’Die Die My Darling’. Unique Freak were next, and I’m sorry to say, were neither unique nor freaks, as they s0unded exactly like Napalm Death circa 1989, and looked way too nice for this kind of thing. The Newtown Grunts were clearly in a celebratory mood, bOunding around the stage and knocking back the Buckfast. Ska punk is a wondrous thing when done properly — however, the Grunts could use a little more practice. (Kirst Knaggs)
Holly Tomas/Colin Reid
Edinburgh: The Star Club, The Attic, Mon 26 Jun.
Holly Tomas and Peter Michael Rowan opened With 'Buddah Lord’, one of Holly's strongest songs, and went on to perform a seven-song set using a clever mix of guitar, piano and Violin to back Holly’s melancholy lyrics and super v0ice. Their combined talents left the appreoative audience suitably warmed up to receive master guitarist Colin Reid, who played us some damn fine tunes. The nimble-fingered, ragtime Virtuoso dropped Jaws With his skill and dexterity as he picked out subtle harmonics and poured out the warmth and charm of his character through his guitar strings. Rapturous applause called for an encore and Reid finished up With his famed ’Black & White Rag', (Julie Clarkl