Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bandits Hiding in Ditches,

Midlake played at King Tut’s in Glasgow on Sunday; it was billed as the Bella Union tour because they had Robert Gomez and Fionn Regan tagging along.

After purchasing some much-needed badges for The Sheep of Badges, we took up a patch just behind the mixing desk on the top tier. Robert Gomez was on first, he’s a member of the Denton mafia. He was accompanied by what later turned out to be Midlake’s drummer and bass player, a keyboard dude and a lovely violinist (I love violins in pop records). It was quite clear why the genius who writes the contracts for Bella Union had handed one out to Robert Gomez. His set was full of songs with nice rhythms and melodies. A comment from the crowd that the sound was akin to My Latest Novel was wrong, fellow Bella Unionists, My Latest Novel, exhibit much more delicate arrangements, it was a case of lazy pigeon-holing. I felt that some of the songs could have been set off perfectly with some female backing vocals but the violinist’s microphone was faulty and we couldn’t hear her at all. I’d like to switch the radio on of a morning and have Robert Gomez’s songs playing. I’ll be looking to buy some tunes later.

Fionn Regan came along next, with his guitar. Stuart from Belle & Sebastian arrived to stand beside us, we did not say “Hiii”; he ignored us first. Midlake’s drummer provided some simple beats to Fionn’s songs. I have his album, The End of History; it’s quite good; and he definitely had a following in the audience. The place fell silent for him to sing his folksy tales that reference vague stuff, no more so than for Put a Penny in the Slot. Fionn enunciates very clearly, it’s quite strange. And even when the venue was very, very quiet, he was often shouting at us and asking for his microphone to be turned up. He was very good overall, he received rapturous applause and came back for an encore.

I found the Midlake set very odd, it was not like being at a gig – it resembled an awards ceremony more. It was as if people had only turned up to congratulate them on what a fabulous album The Trials of Van Occupanther is and they weren’t really bothered about the sound of what was played to them. I was happy to take part in this blinkered fawning. They weren’t bad, they had a nervous start. They were much tighter on the three proper songs from Bamnan and Slivercork which they played; Balloon Maker, Kingfish Pies and Some of Them Were Superstitious – they had weird and wonderful videos projected onto the screen throughout the gig but the video for the latter song was something special (partially visible on YouTube). Three was the right amount of songs to play from the first album because the two albums don’t fit together very well despite both being great.

I was going to love their set no matter what, I knew all the words anyway, I could hear the album in my head – that was enough. However, the mixing in King Tut’s was dreadful, it was either the sound level on the drum kit or the bass guitar which annoyed me at times; during In This Camp, I should have heard “I wanted to marry Babette” (the opening line of the chorus), what I heard was “I wanted to BOOOOOM” – every single chorus in that song was drowned out. They played every song from their current album to much applause.

It was a good night, and excellent value at £7.50. I failed to steal the poster I wanted to but David Twinnie got a shout-out from Janice Long on the way home. “Spellbinding” was the biggest and most cheesy word he could think of.


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