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SOPHIA AND MALCOLM MIDDLETON
Barfly, Glasgow, Wed 7 Aug
On the evidence of their previous forays up north (supporting Cat Power and Mogwai respectively) Robin Proper-Sheppard’s Sophia collective show at the Barfly (for- merly the 13th Note Club for those at the back) should be one of the live highlights of the year.
As a native of San Diego, Proper- Sheppard is in the unusual position of having been an integral part of the British underground music scene now for over ten years. As leader of the magnificent God Machine, head honcho of the Flowershop record imprint and now with Sophia, he is held in high regard for both the quality of his musical output and his contribu- tions off the field, as they’d say in football speak.
Whereas Proper-Sheppard’s pre- vious band the God Machine utilised texture and velocity as their prime tools in conveying their vision it is in a more traditional manner that Sophia ply their wares.
Reference points tend to cheapen rather than augment reputations but for the uninitiated imagine Harvest era Neil Young playing with Nick Cave at his most harrow- ing and poignant. Live collaborators have included members of Swervedriver, Ligament and Tindersticks, and the audience should expect the musicality to at least approach the melancholic depths of Proper- Sheppard’s songwriting. Last year’s superb Die Nachten live album serves as testament to the intensity
that Sophia can muster.
Following the sudden and tragic death of God Machine band mate Jimmy Fernandez in 1991 the band ceased activity, with their second album, the all too aptly titled One Last Laugh in a Place of Dying acting both as their epitaph and creative peak. The legend goes that years after the tragic loss of his friend and band member he wrote the first Sophia song ‘80 Slow’,
BIFFY CLYRO coco HELL IS FOR HEROES 0...
Garage, Glasgow, Tue 23 Jul
Hell is for Heroes. were well worth see- ing. Classic performance. singing from atop amps and noticeably coordinated fl‘OShllig. They greedin snatched all the attention to be had from a keen audience at the Garage. I'd like to see them turn into something less poppy than the Biffsters lSUCh a great band name: it can be shortened into a mil- lion abbrevrationsl. but only harsh time will tell. I can but hope.
Then comes the much-lauded and well-loved Biffies. back home after tetiring southwards and warming up an already cosy lie fucking mental) Crowd at T in the Park on a stage named after a certain London music rag. Understandably. a tense home- coming — explaining the weirdly rusty start to the set. a poor reflection of what they can do when given an empty stage and a packed venue.
Following some initially unsure moments. Clyro return to their usual
fine form On record. Bitty come across
well: live. they're essential. like an early
Sophia personify poiniancy
which epitomises the tragedy and beauty of Proper- Sheppard’s songwriting. ‘Death comes slow when you’re waiting to be taken’ he sings. Smell that, Thom Yorke. In stark contrast not-laughing boy Thom, Robin is as amiable and funny a chap as you’re ever likely to meet. But that’s a different story.
Also appearing as support in his solo guise is Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton. Whilst most gig goers will acknowledge Middleton’s skills as a guitar
player, only the dedicated Strap fan will be familiar with
his singing as he last committed himself to tape on their seminal debut The Week Never Starts Round Here. His brutal honesty and delicate musicianship as well as an astounding heartfelt rendition of the rave anthem ‘Set You Free’ have made his solo shows essential precursors to his upcoming album on Glasgow’s own Chemikal Underground. (Ethan Buckler)
At the Drive—In without the afros or pomposrty
Certain tracks come into their own live. E‘.’(;r“,'()ne knows the singles: ‘27' started a pit and got lots screaming in llll‘O. and the more reflective
'Blackened Sky x'ras also use“ appreci-
ated. Alllll'l‘ tracks prowded some "eal stand-out ir‘on‘ents too -- ‘Soliition
Biffy clyro are in on the joke
Devices and 'Conyex. Concaye'. to name but two.
Later. some fears began to creep as they seemed to be taking themselves a little seriously. Ending by taking the piss a little - knocking out some clas- sic 805; Ben Joyi was more than appropriate. It made me ‘.'.'ant them Sexually. iRowan Martini
The Fringe may be plop but we still have Planet Pop.
s l brace myself for the
annual influx of juggling
students called Farquhar and fire breathers called Quentin it can only be described as a godsend that there is now some musical excitement to be had at the annual twat-fest that is the Edinburgh festival. I know that most of the real entertainment is tarnished by gangs of marauding students slapping each others arses with gaily painted wooden spoons or such like. but it was only six years ago with the inception of Planet Pop that decent rock music has had a share of Edinburgh festival attention.
Over the years Planet Pop has hosted some memorable shows including new local chart stars ldlewild supporting the mighty Fall at the now defunct Cas Rock and last year's incendiary performance by the righteous . . . Trail of Dead. This year's highlights include performances by Glasgow electro troop bis and lengthy named yOLinglings the 808 Matchbox B~Line Disaster.
The dubiously titled T on the Fringe may be more mainstream but it also has it's fair share of excrting folks appearing including the return of Love frontman Arthur Lee. Anyone who missed his post- prison debut at the Liquid Room earlier this year should make SLer they see him before he vanishes again.
TOTF also features an appearance the Arch Drude himself Julian Cope. Although more famous for his writing than his music these days. Cope is. and always will be. a fantastic singer whose enthusiasm for musm: in general lsee his amazing Kr‘aufRock Samp/er book for (—Z‘VlClQllCGi elevates him above almost all others of his era. So enjoy it while yOu can. it might be back to juggling with Yans next year.
~‘-‘\...: THE LIST 23