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shellac 1

It has finally arrived; Shellac at the Edinburgh Liquid Room. I have been counting down the months and days as to see this band in a club without having to make the yearly pilgrimage to Barcelona Primavera Sound is beyond excitement. The fact that this is a true occasion of momentous proportions due to the lack of coherent touring schedule from the band has meant that good dose of Edinburgh folk are here*.

Possibly due to the fact that the band were competing with the Pixies in Glasgow, attendance figures were not as high as it could have been with the balcony closed off and getting to front left of the stage proving to be no challenge. Despite this, there was no mood damping as the level of anticipation in the room was palpable so me and my partner in crime** with pint in hand settled in to be blown away.

We were not short changed – Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer established their positions on the stage; with the drums being front and centre and without acknowledgment they stormed into ‘Canada’ from debut album ‘At Action Park’. The powerhouse continued on with ‘My Black Ass’ and promptly settled into ‘A Minute’, leading to quite the audience participation in the first few rows.

What followed was an evening where all the boxes were ticked. Couple of “new tracks”, taking questions from the audience, playing tracks from every album, and their quintessential choreographed moves displaying that the band is not without their humour***. The crowd throughout lapped it up on the whole though some did prove inpatient when Bob got into a conversation about the resignation of Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and the possible affect that this will have on the public transportation in the city. This led one audience member to tell them to move on, with Bob stating to them “Shut the fuck up dude! I’m talking to this guy”.

With the opening notes of ‘Squirrel Song’ causing recognition and exaltation the band continued on leading to the big hit**** ‘Prayer to God’ threatening to lead to the first instance of a united sing along this evening. The time left was cut short  due to this being a Friday night and the club needing to prepare for all the dancing stuff but thankfully we were treated by the band playing a masterful rendition of ‘Wing Walker’,  before ‘End of Radio’ and the incoherent but exhilarating ‘Spoke’ finished things off.

And that was that… the end. Everyone was happy while those dedicated few were off to see them again in Glasgow the next evening*****. Giddy and content I thought to myself that I will definitely be there when they decide to tour here again in about 10 years’ time.

*Seriously I bumped into so many people I know at this.

**She is the popular writer on this blog 😉

***Like that needs to be proven, all their songs are about Canada and Baseball.

****I believe that would be called sarcasm.


jonah 2

What is one to do on a cold and dreary Monday, well my first thought was to stay in but it seemed that Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s was hosting an evening of acoustic punk* with emo god like figure Jonah Matranga headlining, with Oxygen Thief as support, which proved too enticing a prospect to pass up on.

Due to the lack of audience at the early point in the evening, Barry Dolan otherwise known as Oxygen Thief arrived on stage to little fanfare; however the same could not be said at the end of his electrifying set. Showcasing several tracks from his mighty fine début album ‘Destroy it Yourself’ which hosts defiant anthems in the waiting. Amusingly the signature time changes and stop/starts of the set had Oxygen Thief kicking against the pricks that were frequently in conversation early in his set until the aforementioned stop/starts led them to a further away part of the room. With the promise of a full band tour coming soon** left one rather tantalised at the prospect.

Jonah Matranga was sharp onstage with… himself and his acoustic guitar in tow, no backing to speak of. Despite their only being about 20 punters in the audience which made even this tiny venue seem somewhat sparse, to his credit, this did not seem to adversely affect Jonah’s disposition.  If anything it meant that it was a far more intimate experience for those savvy enough to be in attendance.

What followed was a set that covered all stages of Jonah’s varied career; Solo, Onelinedrawing, New End Original, Gratitude, Far and new project I is Another. With so much material to choose from it proved a highlight of the evening when Jonah asked for audience requests – which was greeted coyly as a test by some but as the first few were shouted out the man found himself inundated. This led to one of the odder moments of the evening as Jonah combined the polar opposite sentiments of songs ‘Are you Sure’ and ‘Fight Song #16,233,241’***, which we were told was the first time this has occurred.

Seeing Jonah cascade into a searing rendition of ‘We Had A Deal’ was not only a valiant display of why a solo performer doesn’t necessarily have to be the quiet, reflective song smith. Not only can they rock harder than a good dose of ensemble bands but can also remind you of why you go to see live music – where there is a moment that you are completely mesmerised, where all the other shit you carry is set aside for a few minutes****. This was one of those moments!

Greeted by the man himself after the show on exiting, more a less every member of the audience was treated to a hug and a short conversation. This cemented the fact that this truly felt special, that he appreciated us being there as much as we appreciated him coming to play. It makes me love punk rock and it quantifies why I love this guy and guarantees that every time that he tours I will make the effort of seeing him and will badger others to do the same*****.

*I hate to regurgitate that term as it’s just a bit shit but I’m at a loss to what else to call it.

**Touring but not in Scotland, unfair!

***That was I that requested ‘Fight Song’.

****Sorry to get all Meta on you.

*****Consider this you being badgered!


Mercury music price nominees* and general darlings of the indie press for the past wee while, Savages have been adorned with a tremendous dose of kudos on a band so young. This packed to the rafters show, at Glasgow’s Classic Grand, was filled with that odd mix of a crowd that only occurs when a fringe band has dipped its toe into the mainstream. Your cider and blackcurrant drinking Goth crew rubbing shoulders with those indie folk and your Coldplay loving Uncles queuing up for the bar. Can you really please all spectrums?

The band, in their uniform of all black, played through their début album ‘Silence Yourself’ to gleeful adoration. Vocalist Jehnny Beth was a commanding presence throughout the show rousing the crowd effortlessly. Ayse Hassan’s bass was thick and punchy and pounding, Gemma Thompson’s guitar was the right amount of painful squall and Faye Milton’s drumming certainly hit the point home.

Proceeding to go through their rather excellent début, the band had the audience in the palm of their hand which reached its crescendo with ‘She Will’ and ‘City’s Full’. Proving that there is more to the band than just hype and that, my God, there might actually be some lasting stay power here**.

However despite the obvious professionalism at hand something didn’t site right with me about the show. Regardless of vocalist Jehnny’s singing, what should have been, a rousing rendition of ‘Fuckers’ upon the shoulders of a few lucky*** audience members, I felt oddly cold despite all the ingredients for a class act show being there; the crowd, the angst, the anger, the energy. That should have been what led to that moment but it wasn’t… It felt forced and somewhat staged as if it was always going to happen****.

Despite my feelings on it though, the performance certainly seemed well rehearsed and was done with the utmost of professionalism with the crowd, on the whole, lapping it up*****. But it lacked believability of emotion and was sorely missing that hint of danger that everything could implode; and who comes to a fucking rock show for that?!

*If you care about that kind of thing… I couldn’t give less of a shit.

**I certainly hope so as it’s a cracking album.

***If you think of that thing as being lucky… I do a bit.

****And as the great & wonderful artist Bobby Conn said at a show in King Tuts several years ago “Scotland does not stand for fakery!”

*****A real shame as I thought they were incredible when I saw them a few months back.

No school like the old school

No school like the old school

“I know my place and you should know yours!” retorted John Lydon, mainstay and head honcho, of Public Image Ltd, to a member of the audience who was proving to be a nuisance to those around him. Surprisingly the man obliged displaying the respect that Mr Lydon still holds amongst those in attendance and this evenings show more than adequately proved why that is.

Despite looking like a darts player who has been on a heavy session, somehow the former Johnny Rotten was still the epitome of cool. The snarl was in play* but there now with a more operatic demeanour in his command of the stage and an authentic honesty to his usual flair of performance. Which for a man that so much bullshit seems to envelop (a good portion of it his own doing to be fair) is marvellous to see in itself.

Thankfully, there is more to this than the man himself, P.I.L. being made up with Lu Edmonds on guitar, Scott Firth on bass and Bruce Smith on drums are able to create the bombastic sparkle and drag that these songs require, and they don’t waste time in doing so. Things began with an almost teasing start with ‘Deeper Water’ from the new album ‘This is PIL’, however those that were worried about this evening being a showcase of new material didn’t not have long to wait for their foot to enter their mouths.

The groove laden ‘Albatross’ was up next leading to a crowd hypnotised by Lydon’s vocal caricatures for nigh on 10 minutes. After which they erupted into a jubilant rendition of ‘This is not a Love Song’ which led to the first bout of activity from the audience, with all in attendance dancing away under the renowned giant mirrorball of the venue**.

After this initial flurry of songs it was hard to imagine how P.I.L. would be able to top such a strong start to the show. As we were treated to a catalogue of tunes from throughout their career with anthem-like ‘Warrior’*** proving to be another highlight, the band finished up with two choice songs from the aforementioned new album; ‘Out of the Woods’ and ‘One Drop’. They left the stage to uninhibited adulation but there was nothing close to touching the strong start to the evening.

As P.I.L. returned to the stage for the encore it certainly seemed like they left the best till last as they stormed into a glorious and snotty version of ‘Public Image’ where the entire middle section of the floor was awash with flinging bodies surfing over their counterparts and really making the security at the front work for their money. What followed was a bewitching execution of ‘Rise’**** which had the house lights on for a good portion and what seemed like the whole audience singing in unison during the chorus.

And that was it, a few ups and downs throughout but bookended to the highest degree with all truly believing that Public Image Ltd are no nostalgia trip, they can still affect you where it counts.

*Of course…

**Seriously, it’s fucking huge.

***I have no idea why I like that song, my head tells me it’s no very good but still…

****Bloody stunning!

Invigorating Punk Rock?

Invigorating Punk Rock?

Moved to Glasgow’s relatively new venue, Broadcast, under mysterious circumstances, the claustrophobia inducing venue greets L.A. dwellers No Age on their first outing to the city since their much hyped* but still awe-inspiring performance at Stereo a couple of years previous.

What the crowd lacks in numbers** it more than makes up with enthusiasm and hysteria (as guitarist Randy Randall would later find out). As we are all trapped in tightly, trying to avoid being the one stuck behind the pillar, it is still sporadically possible to catch the faces of the band whilst playing.

The two piece, made up of Dean Spunt on drums and vocal duties (with occasional bass) and, the aforementioned, Randy Randall on guitar, don’t waste time before heading into the crowd pleasers. ‘Fever Dreaming’ from their last album ‘Everything in Between’ and ‘Teen Creeps’ from their breakthrough ‘Nouns’ proving to be rather riot inducing as judged from the bodies flinging themselves across the cramped floor space down front.

However, there is a new album to promote, the rather excellent ‘An Object’ and tracks from which must be played. These were signposted by the band themselves as an almost apology to the rabid fan base wanting to jump around to what they know***. Surprisingly though, some of these new tunes proved to be the highlights of the evening; ‘C’mon, Stimmung’ showered the audience with the appropriate adrenaline levels that they were after and also led to some rather sombre moments as witnessed by the conviction filled ‘I won’t be your Generator’.

The audience was enthralled throughout and obviously thankful to be seeing the objects of their affections in such close quarters. No more so than when some overly inebriated fans down front made advances on Randy’s groin region****. With the promise of hugs after the show, unbridled adulation would be saved for later. But hell, can it be a bad gig if you cause your audience to hound you with love during the show, I would argue that it can’t be*****.

If anything, the change in venue only added to the atmosphere to see the band invigorating the 4th wave of punk rock******. Those hardcore few who did attend relished the opportunity to party it out to some brash melodic noise with those on the same wavelength as there wasn’t a face without a smile by the end.

*From that Pitchfork crowd.

**Plenty of room at the back… where it was safe.

***There was no need to.

**** [insert pun here]

*****It’s not like they are Motely Crue of anything.

******Is it 4th or 3rd, I have no idea, I just made that up.

Stars in their eyes.

Stars in their eyes.

How the hell are all of them gonna fit on that stage? Was my initial thought* upon the announcement that Swans would be gracing the Edinburgh Liquid Room with its presence**.  This of course had to be seen, and the prospect of seeing Swans (again) within a short bus ride from my flat meant there was no excuse not to go!

As I entered the venue, support act Buke & Gase had just started their set; the duo graced an enthralled audience enthralled audience with tracks from their new record ‘General Dome’ which were greeted by a good dose of applause after each execution. The fucked up, electric, folk, blender of tunes really found an audience here and they really were just the shit! Hopefully they shall grace these shores in future***.

What we were presented with once Swans began to play was… just noise… but what a noise! These guys have made a racket into an art form and they continued to so this evening. Michael Gira, the maniacal conductor of his posse, treated the audience to a nightmare of aural punishment and everyone was happy and all the better for it.

I know what you're thinking...

I know what you’re thinking…

During ‘To be Kind’ one could be forgiven that they were listening to a hymn from a dark arts choir, Gira’s voice had the audience in rapture throughout as the title was repeated over and over again. The only part of the evening that presented itself with audience foot moves was the driving rhythms of ‘Just a Little Boy’ before ‘The Seer’ went back to the norm i.e. musical meltdown****.

Respite was offered to the audience by way of stating “the disco will be starting soon” signalling the fact the venue would be closing things down shortly for the entertainment***** later in its schedule. Gira surprisingly went on to tell a tour anecdote of the band playing at a disco in Berlin several years ago, but before you think the man has gone soft, it ended in a fountain of vomit.

Upon leaving the stage, the audience were so enamoured with these gents that this led to a bow from the entire band three times before they were allowed to leave by those in attendance. My body felt like it had been working its ass off throughout the show and my mind felt rattled******, not something you normally get from a music concert but this really felt like something greater than that.

*It wasn’t really, I just thought that would make a better opening to this review, my initial thought was “Fucking Tidy!” and then it was probably “How much is it?” and then… it was probably about my 4th or 5th thought.

**A nice antidote to the thousands of comedians and art school theatre groups roaming the streets in Edinburgh at this time of year.

***I know, me, catching a support act! I fucking love gigs close to home.

****Who cares what song it was, I could barely remember once I left.

*****I sat entertainment but…

******Seriously, I felt exhausted.

A delightful evening of the finest Post-Hardcore if you please.

A delightful evening of the finest Post-Hardcore if you please.

It is with an air of maturity lusting for the innocence of an emotional youth that greets Emo rising stars (20 years ago) Texas is the Reason finally playing Glasgow, for the first and last time, so this tour can only be described as a lap of honour*.

Due to the intricacies and eccentricities of Scottish public transport I arrived at Glasgow’s Classic Grand to find that the first support act Lemuria were sadly missed**, and the second support act, a solo, Into it, Over it, was well into his set. Such much so I only captured the last two songs, which were good enough to add disappointment to my evening due to missing him***.

The crowd seemed a bit sparse from my vantage point but there were a few pockets of activity nearer the front of the stage. This was a damn shame and rather surprising to be honest as one would have expected for such a revered ensemble from the post-hardcore genre.

With ‘Do you know who you are?’ playing over the PA, signalling the bands arrival, attention is focused onstage with those few pockets of activity getting a bit tighter near the front of stage. The band plug in and punch right into ‘Back and to the Left’ immediately causing some fist pumping and general mosh like behaviour, with the onslaught continued with ‘Johnny on the spot’ before things turn down a bit with ‘Nickel Wound’ giving some of the folks a quick breather. However, the blow that this should have been was somewhat dwindled by the shitting sound from the PA****, a Christ like shame*****!

Handsome bastards...

Handsome bastards…

Thankfully, the sound issues were sorted further into the set allowing the band to blaze through their back catalogue with the desired weight to back it up leading to a cracking rendition of ‘Something to Forget’. Continuing on playing everything in their recorded output we were left with two songs to finish, and what a way to end it as ‘Antique’ and ‘A Jack with One Eye’ closed the night to a thunderous decibel level.

The band looked incredibly happy throughout, thanking the audience and pointing out this would be the first time and the last time that they grace us with their presence. Despite the shitty sound and the low outturn, the band seemed cheerful, as if this gig (and tour) was really for them to experience instead of us. Hey, who am I to argue.

*You can never really tell if this will be the last ‘LAST’ tour these days… God I sound old.

**I heard they were good though.

***He is however playing in November at Audio.

****I am trying to be cool about it but I was really fuckin’ angry.


Has it really been 20 years... fuck.

Has it really been 20 years… fuck.

So the show that has officially made me feel old, the 20th anniversary of the Breeders ‘Last Splash’, and to celebrate the Breeders are playing the Glasgow ABC*. As I have never been to a gig where the whole purpose of which was to play the album in its entirety, I am not sure what to expect. Except to hear that album in its entirety… in order, which is what we got but can a gig be special when you more a less know what is going to occur?**

The nae frills stage illustrates that tonight is going to be about the tunes and that is what the audience are here to see/hear***. The Deals & Co, coming onstage to an uproar of applause, head straight into ‘New Year’ before immediately progressing into the big hit ‘Cannonball’ which leads to one of the many flourishes of dancing reactions from the crowd this evening****.

Really, 20 years... fuck.

Really, 20 years… fuck.

Highlights of the set seem to very much depend on each individual in attendance as we all know what is coming but it’s just a case of playing the waiting game on hearing that particular track. However, everyone seems to be in glee like agreement during ‘Flipside’ and a particularly heavenly rendition of ‘Divine Hammer’ which has everyone plastered with a smile on their face*****.

As the closing of ‘Roi (reprise)’ signals the end of the main set, not one person budges, expectant and desperate for more despite ‘Last Splash’ being played in full. Their patience and dedication is duly rewarded as the band saunters on stage and proceeds to head into a cover of American Lo-Fi legends Guided by Voices****** ‘Shocker in Gloomtown’. Once this is done we are all treated to two encores worth of ‘Pod’ and ‘Safari EP’ tracks which just continues the already jubilant vibe created, with ‘Don’t Call Home’ providing a memorable but sombre finishing number.

Although this may have been just a glorified nostalgia trip for all in attendance and the band themselves… who gives a shit! Those tracks I still frequently listen to, it was great hearing it live, especially by the original incarnation of the band, and everyone seemed to have a big smile on their face. What more can you ask for?

*Amongst other places.

**Do I get extra credit for pointing out the bloody obvious?

**Lets read on…

***Dare I say it is quite nice to get the ‘hit’ out of the way.

****Well at least I did, grinning from cheek to cheek I must have looked like an idiot.

*****All hail the Guided by Voices.

The tour in question

The tour in question

It cost 45 quid, it’s in a venue I can’t fucking stand and it’s a pain in the arse to get to! So why put myself through such an ordeal… Neil Young & Crazy Horse are playing Glasgow, alas the pilgrimage must be made.

Due to the aforementioned struggles in getting to the venue, Glasgow’s SECC, I moseyed in to find the support Los Lobos nearing the end of their set. Thankfully, a large crowd were already in attendance and gave the band a warm and deserved display of affection*.

The cavernous insides of the SECC was slightly daunting at first** clearly putting into frame that this would not be an endeavour in an intimate environment. Considering that this is the first time I have set foot in this venue in over 10 years***, I maintained in my head that despite the setting, I am professional and sensible, it will not ruin the show… and it’s Neil ‘Fucking’ Young with Crazy Horse.

Although not always prominently mentioned or commonly associated with him, Neil Young is not without a healthy dose of humour and, dare I say, flamboyancy. Evidence to that effect was easily evident on stage; the shudderingly high amplifiers****  either side of the stage with the crew dressed in lab coats as though they were ready to apply for a role in a Hammer Horror production added a certain panache to the waiting time before the band entered.


The man in question

Never one to side with the tried and tested posture of gig setlist procedures, Young & Co begin with the ‘Love and only love’ from ‘Ragged Glory’ setting a groove laden almost ambient mood for starters which continued with ‘Powderfinger’. I could go on with the setlist***** but it almost feels unimportant as Neil Young & Crazy Horse jam, mash, noodle, bastardise, fuck up, manipulate and transform their back catalogue according to their mood… it was glorious and pretty obvious that I wasn’t the only person that thought so!

Of course as the seasoned performers that they are it seemed that the band didn’t want to push their luck with the self-indulgence******. Six songs in, Crazy Horse disappear and Neil is left on stage on his lonesome, the nomadic song writing warrior with his trusted acoustic guitar about to do the hits*******. The whole auditorium seemed to join Neil in a rendition of ‘Heart of Gold’, which seemed to create an event that only a venue of this size could provide********. This was followed swiftly by another hit, just not his, as the mass sing along continued with Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’.

Now that the audience had had their respite, Crazy Horse returned and it was time to get back to where they left off.  As the night wore on, the rockers were more a less left till last, as ‘Fuckin’ Up’ began so did the movement of the crowd, the mostpits********* had begun. Due to the confines of this cavernous venue the sound levels were somewhat lacklustre but hearing those opening cords to ‘My, My, Hey, Hey’ done in the style of its counterpart… well it certainly ended things on a high.

This evening certainly cemented Neil Young & Crazy Horses’ legendary status for another evening and which they will do again night after night wherever they visit I am sure.

*Through… you know… clapping and stuff.

**And throughout.

***It was to see Incubus… look I was trying to pull someone at the time… it didn’t work… and it was a shitty gig.

****I am going to assume they were fake.

*****If you are really that interested there are our websites for that.

******Not matter how good it was it is still self-indulgence.

*******I know what you’re thinking, which one?!

********That is the best compliment that you are going to get out of me with regards to the venue.

*********A poor excuse for a moshpit, not that I was expecting something like that here.



Placed in the thick of the audience of Glasgow’s Classic Grand; it’s crowded, hot and difficult to get to the bar*. So it is with genuine excitement, helped by the countdown timer projected onstage, that Low arrive on stage as the timer hits 00:00.

Proceeding with a flurry of tracks from their new album ‘The Invisible Way’ leading to the highlight from that album ‘Clarence White’, despite solely playing new material by this point there was no indication from the crowd that they were getting restless. If anything the way person whooping throughout was told by a fellow audience member to “shut up you fuckin’ twat!” much to lead singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawks’ amusement**.

So far the tone has been set by sombre and introspective musings aided by the super 8 film projections taking place behind them. It is with this that the band proceeds into older material signalled by the hypnotic drum of 2005’s ‘Monkey’***. What was to follow was a mixture of tracks throughout Low’s career with particularly haunting renditions of twin tracks from 2010’s ‘C’mon’, ‘Witches’ & ‘Especially Me’, drummer & singer Mimi Parkers vocal on the latter proved especially mesmerising.

Throughout the set though, Low had to not only endear themselves to the crowd**** but to compete on the loudness scale due to the punk covers band playing downstairs. Which if you are at all familiar with Low’s back catalogue could prove problematic*****. Possibly in response, Sparhawk & Parker, head into ‘Pissing’ which amps up the volume and provides the crowd with one of their few rock out moments.

As the main set finished with ‘To our knees’, Low returned onstage fairly promptly for the encore. However, as aforementioned, the band downstairs began to repeat the challenge of loudness. Sparhawk recognised the song as Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’ and led to the crowd through a rousing rendition of its chorus, as he fully admitted that these were the only lyrics of the song he could recall.

After this uncharacteristic fun was finish with, the band headed straight into ‘Canada’ which caused more movement in the audience than had been previously seen that evening and was successful in drowning out the racket from below. Finishing with ‘I hear…goodbye’, from their recent record store day reissue, the night is closed******. An intimate gig, where their environment worked against them, Low were able to rise above it and present something very special for all.

*Not to mention the smell of stale sweat & oddly… Stilton?

** It was a well-deserved put down – how dare you whoop a band!

*** Is this their big hit?

**** They didn’t have to worry there.

***** What can you do when a cash till plays havoc with the quiet nuances of your set?

****** Threatening to stab us all in the heart, much to the Mrs’ (Parker’s) horror.