ROCK/POP Phoenix King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sun 21 Jan.

Without wanting to fan the flames of Francophobic feeling, French pop, save for the fine works of Serge Gainsbourg and the disko house boom of recent years, has been monumentally shit since the dawn of time. Redemption, however, arrived in the form of Phoenix last summer and if you're not already convinced by the romantic, power pop of their debut album United, you soon will be. Citing influences as diverse as Michael Jackson and Hank Williams, the quirky quartet comprising Thomas Mars, Deck D'Arcy and the brothers Christian and Branco Mazzalai came together in 1995 when Branco left the short-lived indie outfit Darlin’, which would later become Daft Punk. While indebted to the prime movers of the French disko scene, Phoenix severely confounded expectations of their being another groovy, Gallic house outfit with the release of their genuinely eclectic album. ‘When we released our first single, ‘Heatwave',’ explains guitarist Christian Mazzalai, 'it was like a disco, house sound. The record company expected more an album

like this and we did United which is much more eclectic. It would have been easier for us to do a house album but we didn’t want to, we wanted to do something that was more exciting.’ While admitting that 'electronic music in general and house music in particular is the most exciting style in terms of production’, Mazzalai asserts the strong rock influence on the band of Iggy Pop and James Williamson's Kill City. As children of the 805, Van Halen’s stadium rock guitar solos get a look in on the Phoenix album,

Phoenix, they're flaming marvellous

as do strains of country music, R&B, old-school hip hop, funk, free jazz and punk.

Performed live, this heady mix of bad taste and good music comes armed with a healthy sense of humour: ’We are going to use horses,’ says Mazzalai, ’two beautiful horses from North Africa and I am going to play my guitar solos on them. That’s just one of the surprises we have for you. It will be hard to bring the horses by bus but it will be worth it.’

(Catherine Bromley)


: Ani DiFranco The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Mon 29 Jan.

' Grandaddy may be the hardest touring band in showbiz at

the moment but this ’nose to the monitors’ work ethic is one forever followed by another US artist: Ani DiFranco. Who has been gigging almost constantly for the last ten years; and regularly since her debut aged ten.

While our homegrown politicos like Billy Bragg have only just fully discovered the power of their music as well as lyric, DiFranco has utilised the protest singer perspectives and married them with dextrous guitar work and off-kilter


Regarded as one of the most influential female songwriters in the US, DiFranco’s still regards herself as the ’Lil’ Folksinger’, a term perhaps appropriate once but now lacks the breadth to describe her current sound. Drums, bass, keyboards and guitar have been have augmented by sax and trumpet, adding a jazzier, funkier edge to the proceedings. Tracks like ’Little Plastic Castle’ from the 1998 album of the same name, exemplify DiFranco’s ability to scramble genre boundaries tiptoeing in with a frail, folky melody before launching into a ska/funk brass crescendo.

DiFranco is also a true independent. Every record Since her eponymous debut album in 1990 was released through her own Righteous Babe Records imprint, a million selling label,

; which still runs with a staff of only sixteen peOple.

She uses her lyrics as a platform to discuss everything from politics, both parliamentary and sexual to the state of the nation while retaining a distinct feminist and feminine

; perspective. Blunt, but not without tenderness or humour,

DiFranco is an entrancing live performer to behold. (Mark Robertson)

Blunt but not without tenderness

Revolution rock from Amen


NME Carling Awards Tour QMU, Glasgow, 21 Jan.

Into the Wilderness of the January live mUSlC scene comes the oasis of the NME Carling Tour, bringing f0ur promising acts strutting their varied stuff. This year’s line up consists of Starsailor (the new Coldplay probably), Alfie (the new Badly Drawn Boy no doubt), JJ72 (the new Manics possibly), but the highlight is Amen, a bunch of extreme metallers from the States who fight, shout, swear, roll about and lflJUre themselves. A lot. The leader of this bunch of nOIsy

anarchists is the superbly monickered Casey Chaos, whose

on stage antics have provoked the usual moral outrage, none more so than when he cuts himself on stage Not that the man claims to know much about it. ’It's sort of a big blur,’ he says, all well-spoken, intelligent crvrlity. ‘I Just remember not thinking and domg a lot of dumbshit. It’s kind

of like a cathartic mantra, but not in some shitty Jim Morrison type of way.’

Their explosive live shows are exactly what you’d expect from a band whose album, We Have Come For Your Parents, posrtively oozes misanthropy, self-loathing and Wild anger. Mr Chaos clearly isn‘t a man to get on the wrong side of. ’Ifl could do anything I’d love to destroy rap music cos I think it's the death of humanity,’ he says casually. ’l think it promotes a really dangerous image for America, it doesn't matter how

. much money you have, either you’re a fucking human or a

piece of shit, and it's that Simple' (Doug Johnstone)

preview MUSIC

Nordic Nights

Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Wed 24 8. Fri 26 Jan; Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 25 Jan.

If \Oci' idea of a Nordic shopping at lkea while it \ dark and snow\ Outside, then prepare to hate yOur Scandinatian hoiixons widened

') (1'): I\

through ECAT's 'dehurgh Contemporary Arts lltlS'L‘ latest venture New music orchest'al,

chamber and electro-atoustic from Sweden, Norway, Finland, lteiand and Denmark will he performed \)\.t‘l three Nordic Nights in Edinburgh

The idea l)t‘f‘|ll(f the series attuaiw came on a (:rcuitous route via New Zealand, through a (()ll(ll)()ltillt)lt between ECAT and the BBC ~Scottish Symphony Orchestra to present new music from there The partnershp was a great success and is now, says liCAl Administrator Haxel Sheppard, ‘a continuing collaboration with hoth parties gaining The BBC SSO reaches a new audience and TCAT gets a higher profile, especially as the orihestral concert is part of Radio 3's l-leai And Now series '

Featured in two of the concerts is the Edinburgh—based Icelandic composer, Haflidi Hallgrimsson Uniquely placed With a foot in both the Scottish and Scandinavran (amps, he feels it is an interesting idea to compare pieces from different countries ’It gives you a taste of what is going on elsewhwe,’ he says, ’although there is a great difference in that the arts are very well funded in the Scandrnavran countries Composers get a lot of help from government funded ltttlS|(_ information centres’ Assistance might include the production of high quality scores or, as in Iceland, a full salary for composers and artists in support of their work ’However,’ says Hallgrimsson, 'first they have to prove themselves '

What Will be heard in Nordic Nights are the well proven talents of composers such as the Swede Karin Rehngvrst and the Dane Paul Ruders, along wrth Iceland’s senior composer, Jon Nordal, and, of course, Hallgrimsson himself The BBC 880 plays his reworking of St/// Life, which begun its life through a cross—media SCO commission wrth painter Craigie Aitchison The Dutch painter Mondrian is also an influence in Hallgrimsson's mu3ic; his homage to Mondrian being part of the chamber mUSIC programrrie (Carol Main)

Nordic Night fever with Haflidi Hallgrimsson

18 Jan—l Feb 200i THE LIST 43