EXTRFMF FOl K BRIGHT EYES King Tut’s, Glasgow, Thu 7 Nov
Picture the scene: Hallowe’en, 2000, and some idiot promoter has booked Bright Eyes — the band of harrowing, confessional kid singer songwriter Conor Oberst - to play a first-year student party (all bottles £1.50) at Queen Margaret University Union in Edinburgh.
And so, in front of a hundred utterly disinterested and paralytic Toploader fans, Oberst and band appear on stage in fancy dress (it wasn’t a fancy dress party) with the warning: ‘This is gonna be scary.’ For the next two hours, Oberst — dressed as Zorro, with cape, mask and twirly moustache, mind - thrashes seven shades of shite out of his acoustic guitar and screams until you half expect his lungs to flop out his mouth onto the floor, while continually insulting the crowd, his band and himself.
It was typical of Oberst. The 22-year-old Nebraskan prodigy is self-destructive, brilliant, pretentious, prolific, beautiful and seriously, seriously fucked up. Think Ryan Adams’ more talented and more troubled little brother and you’re getting it.
His most recent album (he’s released an astonishing eight records over the last eight years in various guises)
No myxomatosis jokes please its Conor Oberst
highlights his talents, and his obsessive debunking of his own myth, perfectly. A concept album of sorts, it’s called Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground, and the title is probably the most concise thing about it. Not content with being fucked up, Oberst is fucked up about the artifice of singing about being fucked up, and you just don’t want to get into that vicious circle.
Except you do, because Oberst and Bright Eyes are utterly, astonishingly compelling. Most of the time it’s impossible to tell whether Oberst is just the spoilt little kid showing off at the family party or in serious need of help, if not a straightjacket. And of course the manipulative little shit plays with those contradictions too and debunks them.
All of which makes for a truly moving and completely confusing record, two emotions that are even more prevalent when you experience Bright Eyes in the flesh. They’ve just missed the Hallowe’en party this year, but you can bet your sorry ass it’ll still be scary. (Doug Johnstone)
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 12 Nov; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Wed 13 Nov
50 THE LIST ’t‘ ()rt ‘4 Nov IMO?
John Mayall released the hrstorrc frrst Bluesbreakers album wrth Errc Clapton way back rn 1965. The Macclesfreld-born srnger and muitr-rnstrumentalrst never made the krnd of headlrnes generated by former Bluesbreakers lrke Clapton. Mrck Taylor. Jack Bruce. Peter Green, Mrck Fleetwood and John Mche. but can look back on a solrd career rn the blues rn hrs adopted USA. wrth regular excursrons to Europe. Japan. Australra and Asra.
Mayall hrts 69 thrs month. and could be excused for puttrng hrs feet up. Instead, he rs on a 39-date UK tour. The tour rs shared Wrth Peter Green's Splrnter Group. led by a rather more fragrle surVrvor of the fabled 60s Brrtrsh blues boom.
‘That was an ama/rng trme.' Mayall recalled. ‘because everybody was so young. and to be that advanced musrcally was pretty staggerrng. although at the
tune everybody took rt for granted because we were all enthused about the nrusrc and oorng the same thrng. It's only when you look back on rt that yOu thrnk JeSus. that was an rncredrble group of musrcrans.'
Whrle many of hrs acolytes went on to rock rrrega-fame. lvlayall stayed wrth hrs trademark blues rock. reflected agarn rr‘ hrs latest album. Stones. Hrs love for the musrc was shaped by hrs dad's record collectron, where he found the lrkes of Albert Arnrnons and Brg Brll Broon/y. and lard the groundwork for a lrfetrrne's ol'Jsessron.
‘lt's somethrng that rs very much a part of me. and rt's always gorng to be fresh for me. I've always had total artrstrc control of my career. and rf you irster' to the new album thunk you'll hear t‘ov.’ 'ntrrth r‘.(3\.'.“ lrfe there rs strll to he found m the musre' rKenm, Mathreson-
INTERNATIONAL CLASSICS 2002/3
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 7 Nov
It seems as rf rt's been resolutely there forever. but change has been afoot at E'drnburgh's Usher Hall recently. Thrs autumn brrngs the frrst of the Halls own programmed serres of Internatronal Classrcs. 'Basrcally. we're lookrng to provrde more top cl; ssrcal rnternatronal concerts for the Edrnburgh concert publrc and also to develop an audrence for the Usher Hall over and above those of the SCO. RSNO and Edrnburgh l estr‘.'aT.' says Peter Hamblrn. artrstrc and educator programmer. ‘It's the frrst flrt‘e that the Usher Hall has gone dos.“ ins avenue and rt rs very rt‘.r(:." the flags'nrp of the new rnavagernentf
Frst o‘t' rs the Orchestra of the Age of l c‘gntenrnent. the wonderful perrod rnstrunrent ensemble. who pay an all Mo/art prr’)grarnme rar:grr>g from the rarely heard oxerture to La F/nta G/ardrnrera to the ever popular Symphony no 40. They also feature the frrst star of the serres —- vrolrnrst Vrctorra Mullova rn the G and D major vrolrn concertos. Artrsts of srmrlarly hrgh standrng rn the months to come rnclude pranrst lrnogen Cooper rn December and lesley Garrett and Dame Krrr Te Kanawa rn the sprrng.
Mullova goes international
Audrences for classrcal rnusrc are notorrously hard to attract. but. says Harnblrn. “The serres rs not but on as cornpetrtron to others but rather to complement and to burld up concert numbers of audrences for classrcal rnusrc generally rn the crty. We're also rnakrng the Hall more userr-frrendly. for rnstance through prevconcert talks. We won't only be pro'notrng orchestral rnusrc. but chamber rnusrc. such as the Rerlrrr Phrlharnronrc Wrnd Oulv‘tet. and (:horrs too. There's an a_.<f'er‘t:e there. What we've got tr? (it) s frnd the means of lettrng them know that classrca’ rnrrsrc '5; one”. to all. tnere's fun to he had and we're not s'ttrng rn a" '\.()l‘, tovxen' (Ltro‘ Marry