Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Four nights of rock

In an effort to make more of this blog, here are a few notes from the frontline.

A friend’s band, Vancouver Deluxe was supporting Pink Grease at the Barfly. So along I went. Lucky me. If you’re unfamiliar with the Grease, you’re pretty lucky really. With their tacky junkshop outfits, poorly applied make up and generic glam rock songs, you can tell they’re itching to be the new Roxy Music or New York Dolls. And oh how they fail. They’re a dismal prospect, lacking any of those bands’ flair, wit, or originality. Everything about them is tasteless and naff – they’re not good or cool enough to pull off the peroxide hair, sleeveless denim jumpsuits or (ack!) rifle-shaped guitars. They even have a Quasimodo like creature lurking in a corner of the stage prodding some kind of giant stylophone replete with huge knobs. I’m making him sound cool. Believe me, he wasn’t.
Vancouver Deluxe weren’t bad though. Alec Empire, NIN, 80s Matchbox…they’re in thrall to all these dark electric fiends, which is no bad thing. Nasty, pummelling beats, chunky guitar and devilish vocals.

At some point in the morning I receive a text telling me Jack Rose and Glenn Jones are playing Tchai Ovna, a lovely hippy tea-room by the River Kelvin. If you’ve got the current issue of Beard you’ll have seen my enthusiasm for their post-Fahey acoustic guitar magic. Seeing them again, in such intimate surroundings, was wonderful, especially as we worked our way right up to the front. Jones is more melodic and playful, his Appalachian pickin' infused with elements of blues, Django Reindhart gypsy jazz, and medieval madrigals. Rose is more raga influenced, playing meditative indo-folk on a 12 string. But he did more Americana folky stuff on a lap steel, joined by Jones for one last tune. Together, they fly, fingers dancing, notes tumbling sweetly from their guitars. Support came from Porch Song Anthology, a Telstar Ponies spin off. Touching acoustic loveliness, all sparkling mandolin, brushed drums and lilting female vocals.

Another last minute announcement – Swedish wonky popsters The Concretes are doing a free show at Mono. So I text a few friends and hop on the train once more. It might have been the coldest night of the year, but The Concretes music radiates warmth. It’s in the heffalump friendliness of the flugel horn, the chiming guitar and fluffy kitten vocals. Gorgeous stuff, from gorgeous Scandinavians.

Saturday and it’s back to Mono, this time to see Lucky Luke and Ohian singer-songwriter Simon Joyner. They’re both great. Last time I saw LL, they were playing a disarmingly pretty acoustic set in the Panopticon, an old Glasgow Music Hall, but this time they rocked. Simon fired off the occasional Richard Thompson tremolo prang from his strat, while the violinist lived out his John Cale fantasies with scrambled, spiralling highs.