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DIRTY THREE King Tut's. Glasgow, Fri 16 May

Dirty Three don’t sing: they play. And, in the discordant harmony of Warren Ellis’ electric fiddle, Jim White‘s scatter precision drums and Mick Turner‘s guitar there's more emotion to be found than in 10,000 tear-stained ‘I love you‘s and countless heartfelt ‘l'm sorry‘s. Epic and mournful, at once delicate and raw, their pared-down instrumental sound takes you to places that maybe you tried to forget, even though you learned something valuable while you were there. For Warren Ellis, one of those places is Scofland.

‘l was there too

fucking long and it was too fucking cold.’ he says in a strong Australian drawl, reminiscing about the time he spent busking in Scotland some 15 years ago. Maybe the climate didn‘t agree with Ellis, but the music did. Struck by the strong folk tradition and an innate respect for his instrument of choice (growing up in the small town of Ballarat, he’d been called a ‘fuckin‘ poof‘ for playing the violin), Ellis enthuses: ‘It was the beginning of a really important time for me, the first time I experienced music as

a living thing‘.

Back in Australia, Ellis got together with Messrs White and Turner and formed Dirty Three, originally just so‘s they could play in a local Melbourne bar for beer money. ‘It was really about musical anarchy,’ he says. ‘We‘d load the car with instruments and drive down to this little pub, set up in the corner, fucking speed off our brains and just play this pile of instruments.’ Ten years and six albums later and not a great deal has changed. Although Ellis says that ‘each album has been harder and harder for us to make‘, the spirit of musical anarchy still rages in Dirty Three. For those that have not yet seen them play live (or have maybe only seen Ellis play as a member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds), the Aussie threesome are something of a revelation in their emotionally visceral, frenetic blend of ragged blues, rock and gypsy folk.

Standing centre stage but never facing the audience while he plays (he explains that it affects his concentration: ‘I might see someone I know and suddenly forget who I am. Or worse, remember who I am.‘), Ellis is nonetheless a captivating focal point to the show. ‘I really love playing the concerts,’ he says. ‘lt’s the one time I get to stand on the edge on the earth.‘ (Catherine Bromley)



Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Thu 22 May; Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 23 May

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