Raymond Soltysek's Blog

The Parlotones, King Tut’s, 3/4/14

Posted in Gig review by raymondsoltysek on April 6, 2014

Kahn Morbee, The Parlotones

You always know you’ve been to a great gig when your ears are still ringing two days later.

The Parlotones are a South African band that creates a real buzz in the bar downstairs; there’s a strong and very diverse fan base tonight, and it’s the first time I’ve seen folk  gathering to take photos of the band drinking downstairs. Their music is big and anthemic, capable of bombast and humour at the same time. Lead singer Khan Morbee is a brilliant frontman – charming, handsome, a hint of danger (‘I hope Glasgow doesn’t close down on a Thursday night’, he says, and you know he’s the kind of boy to be misbehaving later) – and they’re tight and together.

Big in-yer-face numbers like ‘Louder than Bombs’ or the brilliant ‘Life Design’ are contrasted with more whimsical stuff like ‘Honey’ or the OTT theatrics of ‘Push Me to the Floor’ or ’I’m Only Human’. They’re also capable of really touching numbers too: ‘I’ll Be There’ is as gorgeous a stadium love song as you’ll find, and ‘Fly to the Moon’ is performed off mic and is stunning. The new album due out will be a must, if only for ‘Sleepwalkers’, a stonking track. Fantastic stuff from a band rock’n’roll enough to be downing whiskies on stage.  They have a few sound problems -  they miss the first few bars of the opening vocal, ‘Push Me to the Floor’, Morbee breaks a string and it takes several numbers to find a replacement from the support band, and at the end, guitarist Paul Hodgson must have been playing so loud he fucks up his amp, and leaves the stage to the others for a quiet, understated conclusion – but they don’t really get in the way of a great set.

Support is supplied by two Scottish bands. ‘One Last Secret’ are a Kilmarnock outfit. They’re very, very good, especially chunky guitarist Fraser, who also breaks a string and has to borrow Morbee’s guitar. Obviously a night for playing loud and proud. Occasionally, they sound a bit like the White Stripes – listen to the opening of ‘Tonight‘ -  but they’re unique enough to be worth a following of their own.

The interestingly named Huevo and the Giant kick off the night. They’ve got real ability too, a band in that poppy-rock West of Scotland indie tradition that should attract a lot of business.

So, all in all, a pretty fine night.

Rally & Broad, Tron Victorian Bar, 26/3/14

Posted in Gig review, Reading review by raymondsoltysek on April 2, 2014

Toni Stuart

One more round of applause for Rally & Broad.

March’s session was really excellent. McGuire, a slam poetry exponent from Glasgow, kicked off proceedings with some whimsical stuff about the cosy joys of bed before whacking the audience round the head with two excoriating LGBT treatises. He describes the first, ‘Homosexuality’, as a ‘really bad sociology essay’, and the second, ‘Glasgow Boys’, unpicks the lives of gay Glaswegian men and the conflict with traditional, Glasgow macho hypocrisy. Both are pretty damned terrific.

Kirstin Innes, of WMP fame, reads two lovely sections from her upcoming novel. In one, a young escort describes her first punt, and she captures the unremarkableness of it all beautifully. The other is a slice of teenage school life, a scary, neddish, hyper-sexualised outsider getting his come-uppance from a rather sorted young woman. Innes has a lovely, delicate, mannered voice and way with words. The novel’s out next year; it’ll be great.

Jenny Lindsay reads her love letter from Julia to Winston, which is a hugely powerful piece, and Rachel McCrum reads the gorgeous title poem from her pamphlet, ‘The Glassblower Dances’. Both are fast becoming two of my favourite Scottish poets of the moment, even if Rachel is Irish.

The final acts are really the icing on the cake. Genesee is a Kenyan-born singer songwriter who is wonderful. She begins with an a capella gospel song that evokes shivers down the spine – here it is from her set at The Glad Café the very next night – that introduces a lovely set, including her own composition ‘Hope’ one of my favourite songs of the year so far.

Final act is South African poet, educator and activist Toni Stuart. Her work is suffused with musicality of tone and rhythm – indeed, many of her poems include song – and she uses them to tell us about aspects of South African life, from the intimacy of eating avocados to huge issues of colonialism. ‘Cello’s Lament’ is particularly pretty, and I’m chuffed when I buy a book bag with an extract handwritten on it, proceeds of which go to a library book buying project for underprivileged schools. I’ll probably do something extremely nerdy with it, like stick it in a frame…

Next month sees me take the stage, along with Amy Shipway (who is dong wonderful things with National Collective). Come along – Rally & Broad really is the coolest night out…


Rally & Broad, Tron Victorian Bar, 27/2/14

Posted in Gig review, Reading review by raymondsoltysek on March 2, 2014

Martin O’Connor

Rally & Broad’s second Glasgow outing is as cool and classy as last month’s, though very different in tone.  Rachel McCrum sets us off with an in-yer-face, angry poke in the eye for Russ Meyer’s rampant misogyny that came wrapped up in fluffy notions of fun and winking titles like ‘Faster Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!’  She’s quite right; the guy was an abominable sleaze merchant, even adjusting for that dubious notion that ‘things were different then’.  Yeah.  Like Jimmy Savile.  Good on you, girl…

First up is Glasgow poet Sam Small, who’s organiser for the very interesting new Inn Deep monthly poetry show.  He’s described as a ‘firebrand’, which means he delivers everything at breakneck speed in a very loud voice, whether it’s a brilliantly intricate tale of yawning, scientific research and hard drugs or a well-meaning treatise on victim-blaming in rape that begins startlingly powerfully but ends a wee bit predictably.  He’s very talented; I’d just like a bit of space and time now and again to engage and have my own dialogue with this work.

Leo Glaister is a hoot.  He inhabits the persona of a geeky scientist involved in shady dimension-hopping research.  It’s remarkably unsettling, the audience  unsure at first just where this oddball is coming from; but once we’re all going with the flow, it’s packed with jokes and really stunning images.  He’s a veteran of the slam circuit, it seems; not surprising at all.

Jenny Lindsay then delivers just the kind of poem Sam Small takes the gentle piss out of in his cheeky but undeniably funny dismemberment of a certain style of poetry reading (‘I’ll repeat this line to make it seem important…’) -  and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  I really love her writing.  It’s largely an extended descriptive piece about an Edinburgh district undergoing gentrification (no, Jenny, I don’t know Edinburgh well enough to spot it) and it’s really beautiful to hear a poet who loves words and the feel they make in the mouth and the sound they make on the ear.  “We live where pigeons come to die…” says the narrator’s mother, and I just about fell off my chair at that one.

After the interval, star of the night is Martin O’Connor, who I last saw at WPM on the Water in December.  He’s even more impressive this time round.  I think he must listen to people more carefully than any other human being on the planet, so perfect is the way he captures accent and idiom.  He performs ‘First Lines’ again, and it’s characters are instantly identifiable.  He also performs sections of his upcoming one man show, Theology; honestly, go – it’s a must see.  If there’s anyone doing anything more interesting with the Scots language just now, I haven’t heard them.  Loved it.

Final act of the night is young singer songwriter Becci Wallace.  She’s just finished her music degree, apparently, and is putting together an album. She’s terrific.  The way she delivers her second number, ‘She’s So…’ is outstanding.  What’s so obvious too is how literate her lyrics are; this is a young woman who knows her words and plays with them really  intelligently.  I’m going to recommend her for Sofar: I think she’d go down a storm.

Just a wee reminder I’ll be performing at the 30th of April Rally & Broad (despite Jenny trying to convince me it’s March I’m pencilled in for); come along.  The audience was a bit sparse this time (no Liz Lochead on the bill?) and that’s a shame, because this is a class night. Of course, I’ll be guaranteed to lower that tone…

‘Mistaken for Strangers’

Posted in film review, Gig review, Music review by raymondsoltysek on February 27, 2014

Mistaken for Strangers

The National are, let’s face it, the biggest, bestest band on the planet right now.  I’ve only seen them once, at the O2 ABC in 2007, just after ‘Boxer’ had been released and ‘Fake Empire’ had become one of my favourite horny songs ever (I mean the horn section, not sex).   I’ve got tickets to see them at The Usher Hall in July (so keen, I bought them twice); since ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ is probably my favourite album of the last few years, it’s gonna be a gas

In the meantime, this documentary about their 2013 tour will have to do. Made by Matt Berninger’s brother, it’s less of a tour rockumentary than a touching portrait of two brothers’ relationship.  Berninger invited brother Tom on tour to make the film, and there’s definitely a sense of the successful big brother giving the stoner wee brother something to do to keep him out of the way of the buses.  Nine years younger, Tom is obviously in awe of his focussed, driven sibling’s success, even though he’s a ‘metalhead and thinks indie rock is shit.’

In my lifetime, I’ve met hundreds of wee boys who have been told they are the best, the most talented, the most quick-witted and funny and artistic boys ever (usually while their sisters toil their way unappreciated to success) and their lack of direction and purpose is just down to being misunderstood.  I’m no success story, but at least my mum kept my feet on the ground:  “well, you could have done better if you’d worked harder,” she said when I told her on the phone that I’d got a 2.2 in my degree.  Thing was, she was absolutely right, I was a lazy bastard –  I’d spent my final year playing pool and skipped all but a handful of lectures and tutorials – and there was no way she was letting me weave any tales about being an unappreciated genius.

There’s a whiff of that about charming, feckless Tom, who fucks up his simple job as a roadie and gets himself chucked off the tour because  he can’t seem to do anything right; but, dammit, he is so likeable you’ll forgive him anything.  He is obviously a pretty crap filmmaker if his short low budget slashers are anything to go by and, confronted by a wall of post-its, he’s obviously out of his depth; his sister-in-law is credited with joint editing.   But then again, this is a carefully constructed film, and so there are legitimate questions about the extent to which the narrator we see is a construct.

It’s well worth the watch.  The band come across as laconic yet purposeful, professional family men indulgent of the boyish camera being poked in their faces but nevertheless having clear expectations (‘I thought this was a film about the band and you were going to ask about me,’ says one of the Dessners, ‘but it seems all you want to do is talk about you and Matt.’).  There are no wild revelations -  you sense Tom desperately wants the drug-fuelled metal orgy, and it’s a lovely little touch that his big brother gives him a row for partying so hard he’s the one to miss  the tour bus – but these excesses probably wouldn’t cut it nowadays for a band that tours as hard as they do.  And I doubt the music would be so beautiful if they were stoned most of the time.

The film is followed by two local college bands.  Oakland Moor are a Americana tinged outfit who can write a song –  their opener is really listenable – though trying to cover the vocal perfection of The Civil Wars is perhaps a bit too exuberantly ambitious.  Silver Falls are 80% female and cut from the same folksy cloth,  producing some nice harmonies. However, when both bands proudly announce they’re covering songs from ‘The Hunger Games’ soundtrack, you know (a) where they’re coming from culturally and (b) that you’re getting too old.

Cosy AND exciting! Sofar Glasgow, 13/2/14

Posted in Gig review by raymondsoltysek on February 16, 2014

Prides – Sofar

Tee hee.  I’m in a secret society.  And it doesn’t involve funny handshakes.

I’m into Sofar.  Last year, I discovered Chastity Brown on YouTube at a Sofar gig, and wondered what the hell it was all about.  Basically, it’s cool pop-up gigs in weird places, like people’s front rooms.  Ever the intrepid muso, I signed up and got in to Sofar Glasgow.  And what a tantalising prospect it was:  I didn’t know the venue until 48 hours before (and I’m not telling you where it was, so there) and I didn’t know the line up until the musicians took the stage (or the little bit of the room in front of the fireplace that served as a stage).  Talk about deferred gratification…

I have to confess, I didn’t know what to expect, and thought maybe we’d get one or two teenage beginner singer-songwriters angsting all over the place.  Nothing like it.  What we did get was a line-up of top notch musicians, some of whom are on the very brink of making it really, really big.  Stonking.

First up is Ross Leighton, lead singer of the pretty awesome Fatherson.  He performs  four numbers, each both lyrically and musically inventive; I like most, though, his opening number, ‘Tears’, which is perhaps the most orthodox melody of them all but is quite gorgeous.  Jings, this lad can sing; he’s tonally rich and has a lovely range and a Scottish accent.  He also has a monumentally impressive beard.  Cannae be bad.

Next is Sunshine Social – or, at least, half of them.  Again, the quality of the vocals is mighty fine:  Jamie Young is a signature frontman, all swagger and cockiness, and the sound is jingly jangly and cool and ballsy.  Groovy  as fuck.

But the big, big treat is the final act, Prides.  Just about to launch an EP, off on a US tour and having just been named as a Guardian band to watch, they’re an electro-pop trio from Glasgow who are simply brilliant.  Stuart Brock’s voice was the standout of the night, and his harmonies with keyboard player Calum Wiseman and (occasionally) drummer Lewis Gardiner are quite something.  I just had to whoop embarrassingly at the opening number, the beautiful ‘Cold Blooded’,  and Ross Leighton joins them for an encore of ‘The Kite String and the Anchor Chain’ (think I got that right) that is pretty well angelic.

Brock invites us to their gig at SWG3 in March, but suggests that we might hate them surrounded by their full electro-rig.  I doubt that, but being so up close and personal, this does perhaps have an added dimension that they might lose big and live; I like electro-pop, but this is much sweeter and intimate than their sound on their band page.  However, they’re well worth a listen and a revisit.

So I had a great time.  There was definitely a sense of a close-knit crowd and I certainly was amongst the older participants; I think I was also the only loner in the room.  But there’s a palpable sense of exclusivity and camaraderie and a really warm welcome; hostess Jay is charming to me, a former student says hi and two lovely young Asian women take me under their wing and chat to me for the evening.  It’s a lovely, relaxed experience, just the way to discover new music.

I’m up for it.  Big time.

Suzanne Vega, City Halls, 1/2/14

Posted in Gig review by raymondsoltysek on February 2, 2014

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega has been around for yonks, it seems.  There have been times when she’s appeared on my radar with a single or two of real beauty, but generally I’ve found her intensely complex narratives too demanding; hell, my usual preference is for music sung by people from Cape Verde, Portugal, Uzbekistan or half a dozen other places where they don’t speak English, so having to follow a story seems an awful lot of hard work for me.

However, I’m with my pal Jill Brown, a fine upcoming singer-songwriter herself, so I’m absolutely happy to trust her judgment that this will be something I’ll enjoy.  And I do.  Very much.

It works for three reasons.  Vega’s songs are shy and introspective, yet she herself is effortlessly charming,  sharing stories of her first Liverpudlian love, showing off the coat she bought at a thrift shop earlier in the day  and bantering with the audience about gigging in Tenerife.  She is easy in herself, sexy and assured and relaxed from the moment she comes on stage and pops on her top hat for Marlene on the Wall. 

The second reason it works is that voice of hers.  It isn’t a huge voice by any means; it’s intimate and understated, but tonally rich and always bang on tuneful.  Whether she’s doing soft and gentle (‘Small Blue Thing‘ is, really, a  goosebump gorgeous standout single song performance) or rocking it on the seductive ‘I Never Wear White’ (‘I never wear white / white is for virgins / children in summer… My colour is black…), she’s always absolutely convincing and engaging.

Lastly, it works because of her guitarist, Gerry Leonard.  It’s just her and her guitar and Leonard switching between acoustic and electric.  His electric guitar work is fabulous.  He’s worked with just about everyone, and the ambiance he creates by looping provides a perfect backdrop for Vega’s ethereal quality.  He also hits those strings cleaner and crisper than many I’ve heard during some beautiful solos; it’s just the sort of sound I love.

The hits come thick and fast to remind us just how recognisable her music is  – Tom’s Diner (a sexy, sweaty, hypnotic delivery here),  Left of Centre, Luka , Caramel – along with tracks from her new album, the tarot-inspired ‘Tales from the Realms of the Queen of Pentangles’, a concept which allows her to give her story-telling penchant free rein on the likes of ‘The Fool’s Complaint’ or ‘Jacob and the Angel’.  All in all, it’s a fine gig, and I’d certainly see her again.

We only catch a couple of songs from support act Samantha Crain from Oklahoma; what we do hear is lovely.  Worth a download at least.  Check her out.

Puking on happiness? The Raghu Dixit Project, Oran Mor, 24/1/14

Posted in Gig review, World music by raymondsoltysek on January 25, 2014

Raghu Dixit

“There’s happy,” says Raghu Dixit.  “Then happier.  Then happiest.  Drunk on happy.  Puking on happy.  We don’t do sad songs.”

And he’s right.  I first saw The Raghu Dixit Project at WOMAD in 2012 (the now famous proposal set!) and grinned from ear to ear for hours afterwards, so I wasn’t going to miss them up close here in Glasgow, and I find myself suffering from the same facial deformity again. I can’t remember as much sheer good will at a gig before, and it’s great; they are certainly easily in my top ten live bands.

Partly, that’s because Dixit won’t shut up.  He’s a natural storyteller, comedian and all round charming gossipy gasbag.  He interacts with the audience constantly and never once loses that beaming smile of his. And the songs are happy: he has a way of turning 500 year old obscure philosophical poems from Bangalore into a crazy dance-fest, and he has a beautiful voice, rich with that Indian sensuousness.  He has the audience singing along to ‘Lokada Kaalaji‘ (haven’t a clue what I’m singing, but I’m up for a go…) and, of course, the totally infectious ‘I’m in Mumbai (Waiting for a Miracle)’, which gets the biggest cheer of the night.  The title track from his new album (housed in a cool tin!),’ Jag Changa’, is hip-swinging too.

Yaadon Ki Kyari” is a beautiful paean from his five-year-old self to his adoring parents (he tells lovely stories about growing up).  Softer numbers like ‘Sajana’ and ‘No-one will ever love you like I do’ slow the pace only momentarily and pretty soon we’re all pogoing to ‘Mysore Se Ayi‘, dedicated to the beautiful girls of the city of palaces.

I wish I had a setlist so I could link to all the individual songs for you.  The new album is lovely, but it’s very different from this performance, suffering from the big production values of the complete orchestra and over-dubbing; they are a much, much more exciting, visceral proposition live.  If you can, see them.  And, for goodness’ sake, smile.

Swoon? I surely did; Mayra Andrade, GRCH, 21/1/14

Posted in Gig review, World music by raymondsoltysek on January 22, 2014

Mayra Andrade

So – long time no blog, and I suppose seeing Mayra Andrade again is the best reason to get back into it. She’s at Celtic Connections to support Spanish singer Buika – more of that later – and she’s promoting her new album, ‘Lovely Difficult’. She has a new band and a new sound – occasionally, she sounds as if she’s going in the direction of the soft jazz of Nora Jones or Melody Gardot.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, except Andrade is so blooming wonderful, Nora Jones and Melody Gardot should be moving in her direction.

She also has a new band, a more recognisable combo of electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.  I suspect they’re all still settling in; they sound great, but it kind of lacks the inventiveness and the ease she established with her previous band, led by Zé Luís do Nascimento.  I’m sure it’s a matter of time, and they’ll fit like favourite slippers soon.

“Lovely Difficult” is in many ways a big departure.  Sure, there are tracks that maintain that luscious Latin beat that permeated her previous albums – “Ilha de Santiago” is a great little calypso -  but there’s that tendency to the slicker jazz that is epitomised by “We Used to Call It Love”, her first track in English (apart for a cover of “Michelle” on the Studio 105 live album).  I’m not sure I like it all that much, to be honest, but it gets a great delivery here for three reasons.  First, she gives herself space to improvise, something she always does wonderfully.  Secondly, she’s nervous about singing it for the first time in front of an English-speaking audience and completely blanks the words, and, embarrassed and blushing, she has to get the road manager to fetch the lyrics, which endears  her to the audience; “Don’t tell my mum,” she pleads with us all. Lastly, she shyly asks us at the end if we could understand the story of the song – a lover leaving for another – and says there are times in your life when it’s perhaps better to forget what has happened and move on; “So this is why I forget the words’, she says, with a sweep of her arm, and everyone wonders who would be so stupid as to dump her, for heaven’s sake.

She throws in a few oldies – ‘Tunuca’ and ‘Dimokransa’ hit the spot – and dedicates  ” Meu Farol” (“My Beacon”) to her mother. She manages to get a typically uptight GRCH audience singing along to the chorus of “Rosa” and grunting a simian chant on the typically Cape Verdean  “Téra Lonji”, and squeezes a standing ovation from them  at the end of the set.

As always, she’s a life affirming experience, but it’s not the perfection of her gigs at Ronnie Scott’s or the Casino de Paris.  Even so, 8/10 of Mayra Andrade is as good as a lottery win.   Swoon?  I did, I tell you.  I surely did.

Main act Buika is a Spanish singer of African parents.  She has a wonderful voice and an investment in her songs that has her hands fluttering across her breast with emotion.  She comes from a flamenco and Moorish coplas tradition with distinct sub-Saharan aesthetics in there too.  I have to say, it’s just a little overwrought for me, a sense I’ve always had that distinguishes coplas and flamenco from fado. She hints at a life philosophy that is embedded in hardship and pain and improvises startlingly, clearly riffing off of the emotion she feels.  It’s admirable and heartfelt; however, it doesn’t speak so much to me, and, as my sister is very unwell, we bail early.  We’re sitting at the front, and Buika gives is a huge smile and a lovely goodbye, for which we are very grateful; our apologies…

Word per Minute on the Water, Beacon Arts Centre, 30/11/13

Posted in Gig review, Reading review, Writing by raymondsoltysek on December 1, 2013
Tom Leonard

Tom Leonard

Nice to see WPM back after a long hiatus as a part of the celebrations for Book Week in Scotland; nice too to see it come to Greenock to celebrate the newly minted Beacon Arts Centre, a lovely facility by the water with stunning views and a great wee theatre.  It’s going to liven up the arts in Inverclyde, and the healthy audience suggests it’ll be well used.

The Clutha disaster hangs heavy, though.  It’s just been announced that one of the probable victims is John McGarrigle, a Glasgow poet.  I don’t think I ever met John, but the Clutha was a favourite meeting point for many of the poets I know like Jim Ferguson and Graeme Fulton, and he was a popular figure among them.  Hostess Kirstin Innes and short story writer Alan Wilson read two of his poems, and superstar Tom Leonard reminisces about him.  All of the acts pay their respects in poignant and sensitive ways, just as it should be.  I read at the Clutha a few times years ago; it has always been a haven for radical writing and music, and I sincerely hope it rises again.

First on the bill is Rachel McCrum, Jenny Lindsay’s Rally & road partner.  She has a gorgeous voice, honeyed with Northern Irish.  Her poem about learning to sail with her father is lovely.  Herald big-hitter Neil Mackay reads from his new novel, ‘All The Little Guns Go Bang Bang Bang’, interestingly about two 11 year old ‘hitmen’ in Northern Ireland.  Martin O’Connor‘s writing for theatre and drama projects is terrific, playing and expanding and exploding not just Glasgow vernacular but the very essence of what it is to be Weegie, including a terrific Glasgow singalong party (‘Gie’s a song, Eddie…’) and the fractured prose of a union meeting.  Excellent.

Adam Stafford wowed me at WPM 2 a few years back.  I really like the way he builds his music live through looped guitars and beatboxing; it’s a fascinating process, and he has a lovely voice over the top of all that.  He has trouble with his loop pedals tonight, and unfortunately has to abandon his set after a couple of numbers go awry.  No shame there – he gives us enough to emphasise what a talent he is.

The night finishes off with ex-Delgado Emma Pollock.  She’s lovely, has one of the sweetest voices you could ever hope to hear and is a real superstar of the indie folk rock scene in Scotland.  Just her voice and an acoustic guitar, her four numbers are a delight, and she ends with the hit Paper and Glue.  A real touch of class on the water.

But the star of the show for me is the venerable Tom Leonard.  I haven’t seen him for years and years, and I am absolutely and childishly thrilled that he remembers me.  He’s quite open about having been on the wagon for ten years or so, so I hope he doesn’t mind me telling a wee story about him.  When I was Principal Teacher at Linwood High School, I asked him to do a reading for our kids and, of course, he generously agreed.  I picked him up from the station and he looked just a bit ragged.  He’d been round at Eddie Morgan’s house the night before, he said, and they’d stayed up late sorting out the world, telling stories about mutual friends and had, he admitted, more than a few wee golden sweeties.  As a result, I suspect the last thing his head wanted to do was to spend the morning with a bunch of weans.  So in he comes, gets himself seated – and he absolutely blows the kids away.  They loved him, his humour, his charm, his downright humanity.  He and Morgan were gold dust when it came to engaging pupils with poetry and with their heritage.  The man’s a legend.

So he dips into his encyclopaedic knowledge to tell stories of poets from Inverclyde, reminisces about his friendship with W.S.Graham, reads a touching poem he wrote for his son’s wedding, lambasts the establishment with ‘Being a Human Being‘ and just about has me falling off the chair at the beauty of ‘June the Second‘, one of those tiny jewels of a poem, like Morgan’s ‘Strawberries’, that captures an infinitesimally small and specific moment of love that, because of its impossible humanity, seems utterly universal.  So short, so brief, so seemingly uncrafted, it is one of my favourite poems.

So a good night; well done to Inverclyde Libraries for tempting WPM out of semi-retirement to come doon the watter.  In the past, I always fancied reading at WPM, but was never invited.  Dammit – it’s a class act.

PS – Rachel McCrum says that Rally & Broad is coming to Glasgow for a short residency at the Tron.  I’ve never been to one of their events, but by all accounts they’re fantastic, so make sure you get tickets…

Editors, Barrowland, 26/11/13

Posted in Gig review by raymondsoltysek on December 1, 2013

Editors at Barrowland

I never really connected with Editors until their latest album, “The Weight of Your Love”.  It’s an album that’s had mixed reviews, largely because of the production which takes a swing away from indie rock values into more a by-the-numbers anthemic, stadium-friendly ethic.  I like it, I have to say.  Lyrically, it’s pretty shocking at times; “Two Hearted Spider” might as well have been called ‘The Beast with Two Backs’, for god’s sake, and ‘Bird of Prey’ is largely meaningless.  But that last track indicates the strength of the record:  while it may be a semantic mess, it is really quite a gorgeous sound.

I’m with a pal who was into their older stuff, and I have to say that’s where the strength lies.  It’s actually surprising how little of “The Weight of Your Love” they do play – the big singalongs of ‘Honesty‘, ‘Sugar’ and ‘Nothing’ for instance, and one of my favourites, the funky ‘Formaldehyde‘, as well as those bloody spiders – despite this being the album tour.

And I kind of get the feeling that the fans in the audience aren’t all that disappointed, and are quite happy with a setlist that is actually pretty retrospective.  Despite the fact that I don’t know much of this, it does seem much more direct, more grungy, more honest than the newer material.  ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool‘ really kicks on, and ‘Munich‘ gets the crowd revved up.  They finish with a metaphorically and literally blinding ‘Papillon‘, a kind of Sisters of Mercy meets Depeche Mode moment that works well.

So – next stop is to track down all the old stuff.  This was a good, good gig, but I’ll enjoy it even more when I see them again and can connect with the stuff that really sets the blood pumping.

Just one down note:  my pal and I go for something to eat before the show and apparently miss – dammit – the wonderful British Sea Power.  A band that strong deserves to be co-billed, and if they had been, we’d have happily gone hungry.

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