Monday, July 06, 2009

The Vaselines, The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub & Malcolm Middleton. Mono, Glasgow, 5th July

This was a nice surprise. A low key show in Mono featuring The Pastels, Malcolm Middleton, Teenage Fanclub and The Vaselines. To promote the launch of a new charity, the David Williamson Rwanda Foundation, and also to have some of the favourite bands of a man who died too young play some of his favourite songs. What a great way to be commemorated. In a venue which, according to Stephen’s preamble to ‘About You’, exists partly thanks to his encouragement and business acumen. He said that most of the list of favourite Pastels songs ‘are not songs The Pastels... can play at the moment, but he really loved The Jesus and Mary Chain’. Drifting into a digression to say that ‘About You’ also features on the new! imminent! Pastels! Tenniscoats! record! (my exclamation marks), he sounded a bit embarrassed by such unabashed self-promotion and tailed off. ‘Are you ready?’ asked Katrina, like a park keeper calling in a rowing boat. ‘Your collar’s a bit out,’ she added helpfully. Stephen defended the collar misalignment as punk rock, and away they went, Norman Blake standing in for Saya on the high backing vocal. The high point of their short set was the last song, ‘Basement Scam’, which was full, rich, glorious. I got lost in the sound, and lost in time, this and ‘The Viaduct’ tracking a course back through the years (Mono is constructed around something you could describe as a viaduct – I wonder how much of a coincidence this is?) Brogues thought this was the best he’d heard them do ‘Basement Scam’, and I’d say the same.

Malcolm Middleton had played first, apologising in advance for the gloominess of his songs compared with the other bands on the bill. I haven’t followed his career at all, the only songs of his I know are the improvised ones from Arab Strap’s first LP. His voice has dropped several octaves since then, and he was right about the songs being gloomy – but not unpleasantly so, and one was gloomy about pizza.

The Vaselines sounded great. S. said the following morning that she preferred them live, and my rock classicist hackles rose, wanting to say something pompous about their records (I love my Vaselines picture disc, all the songs crammed in taking up half a centimetre each, the Bad Seeds-style mug shots glaring out at you as it spins). But they managed to pull off that trick of adding tons of grit to their sound without losing any clarity. The guitarist charged with unleashing the peals that punctuate Vaselines songs had his amp set to fuck up the balance bone in your ear, the drummer did his best to make you jump up and down, it is a wonder more people didn’t fall over. Any snide thoughts about the exhuming of songs from another era were gone five seconds into ‘Son of a Gun’, fresh as sunshine in the bedroom. Eugene’s look of concentration during ‘Rory Ride Me Raw’ was hilarious – you’d think he was playing ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ – but it convinced, too. They did ‘You Think You’re a Man’ with real drums replicating the metronomic underground beat (that’s just showing off!) and invited Stephen Pastel onstage to honk the bicycle horn for ‘Molly’s Lips’. Then it was time for our taxi to the bus station and we had to go. Chris fills in the rest of the set:

  • ‘Teenage Jesus Superstar’. Cripes.
  • ‘Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam’. With Noise where lesser men might have cellos.

It’s fine, it’s really fine. What we saw was brilliant enough.

As it turned out, the taxi was late, we missed the last bus home and went back to Mono in time for the end of Teenage Fanclub’s set – a bit of ‘Don’t Look Back’ and, of course, ‘Everything Flows’. The perfect complement to ‘Basement Scam’: aching, epic, wild, home.

Update: horsemeatpie’s photos, videos by geomck of Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines and Malcolm Middleton.


Piebird said...

A wonderful, wonderful evening! Moving, uplifting, and full of an amazing, positive energy... It must've been a bittersweet experience for David Williamson's family; I hope they were able to enjoy it all, too, and that the evening raised a goodly sum for the new Rwanda foundation, too.

Oh, and I was as surprised as you were to find that I preferred the Vaselines live show to their recordings - it's not often that this happens for me! Worth missing that bus for...

Heroine of the hour for me, though, has to be the fabulous Jane, who not only selflessly drove us to the bus station when the taxi didn't show up in time (thereby missing some precious minutes from the Vaselines and Fanclub sets, herself), but also went on to provide us with an extremely comfortable and attractive spare room for the night, plus internet access (so we could book tickets home on the first bus the next morning), plus taxi numbers (to arrange our departure at an ungodly hour, and ensure we caught it this time round - which we did). A star of a different kind. If you're reading this, Jane, we love you!

Chris said...

We do indeed. Rude of me not to mention it!

I thought it was quite chivalrous, though, to cut the part about our drunken stot back through town yelling in Northern Irish, stopping buses in their tracks. That was fun.

Anonymous said...

Great review, Chris. That was a pretty incredible night all round.

I'm still basking in the beauty of Basement Scam, still astonished by how good The Vaselines were, still basking in the beauty of Basement Scam...

We've been really spoiled this past month or so: in any other year, any one of those Eddie Marcon, Tenniscoats, Pastels, or Vaselines gigs would have been no.1 on my Best Thing Of The Year list; to have all four in the space of six weeks is, well, little heart feels fit to pop.

[And on that note, if it does, rest assured that a similar tribute night would be just fine; though more realistically, try to make sure they play the theme to Curb Your Enthusiasm as the coffin goes down, would you?]

I finally got around to putting some photos up on Flickr. It's not the best set ever, but it is nice to be able to title a photo Stephen Pastel Gets The Horn.

Piebird said...

Aye Chris, chivalry's yoar meddle neme! I think it was wise to leave out the Welsh bit, too...

And Horsemeatpie - I agree, especially about the incredible abundance of Number One gigs and bands. We have indeed been spoiled, and I've enjoyed every minute!

Piebird said...

Cracking photos, by the way!

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