Friday, December 29, 2006

Painters of Performing Painters,

At last, there was a lovely distraction from the nuisance of Christmas. My Latest Novel, the band I’ve loved most in 2006, played a show at King Tuts in Glasgow.

At King Tuts, it’s important to arrive early enough and mark out a prime territory, this might depend on what your aims are from the gig, be it bagging the poster on the way out, acquiring a setlist from the band or the gadgie on the mixing desk or seeing the stage. I hoped to achieve all of these but I had to settle for the pick of the views of the stage.

The support act were Odeon Beat Club from Glasgow, they consist of a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a vocalist/guitarist and a lady who hops on and off the stage to sing on certain songs. They seemed to have a number of followers in the local crowd. As regular readers of my musical reviews will know, I’m not easily won over by the bog-standard 4-piece tactics. I so nearly thought that they were okay, they had that Scottish guitar noise thing, I can’t explain it, it’s a quality that only Scottish bands can do. I managed to align my brain with the music but the singer was poor. He sung in an American accent, he could have been from Blink 182 or some other band of their ilk. I couldn’t work out what he was singing. He ruined all the songs apart from two of them, those were the two songs he downed his usual guitar and used an acoustic guitar instead. He told us that My Latest Novel’s second ever gig was supporting Odeon Beat Club in Greenock and that is was obvious then that the billing would change. I am glad that fairness has prevailed. Odeon Beat Club weren’t all that great but they weren’t as rotten as the Dykeenies.

My Latest Novel didn’t disappoint me. After the first twang of the guitar, the crowd realised they were opening with the album starter Ghost in the Gutter and they did that shusssshhhh-y thing. I thought that was great and I was filled with hope that the crowd would stay like this and observe the magnificent subtlety of the songs. It wasn’t to be; after the first crescendo of that song, the crowd started whooping, this was when we first realised the two next to us were nincompoops – they did not cheer or woo, they made loud animalistic grunts. However, at the end of the song, one of them said “Epic, man”. I thought they were going to play the album in order and they nearly did. Pretty in a Panic, with the spoken word poem at the end, will always be my favourite, although I listen to the album more than twice every day, I’m still trying to work out what the all words of it are: “Now the seashell artist makes another masterpiece, reflecting jealous danger which love can’t see, a trinket box which holds the key, to the seashell artist, we thank thee.”

I still wonder at the concentration they pour into getting every melodica note, stroke of violin, glarkenspiel chime, guitar twang, tap of the keyboard and drumbeat in its rightful place. The vocals sometimes matter, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re spoken, sometimes they’re a bit choral and sometimes they’re chanted, quite angrily like in Learning Lego. I couldn’t work out whether to take the two nincompoops seriously in their appreciation of My Latest Novel, one said “You’ll never have been at a gig like this” which might look complimentary in print, later, one of them ordered the other to dance.

They ended the first part of the gig with their Christmas song, it’s not Stop the Cavalry. Outside it’s Christmas is more about a time and an emotion felt after some sort of winter incident. It’s beautiful and it snows in the minds of those hear it.

After their short break they came back with Valour Still, not from the album but it wouldn’t be out of place on it, and Reputation of Ross Francis which is magnificent. Apparently Ross Francis became engaged on Christmas day.

My Latest Novel are great, I think there’s no one like them. Their musicianship can be best be summed up by the fact that during one song, Chris plays glockenspeughle, melodica, and guitar, he hits the symbols and sings a bit (I might have remembered that a bit wrongly but it is mostly right). Most of the blogs say that they’re like Belle & Sebastian or Arcade Fire, they’re wrong – the closest comparison I’d nominate would be Sufjan Stevens but that’s not right either. They are who they are and they do lovely gigs like this one.


Blogger K A Hunter said...

I I I tink you'll find it's a glockenspiel.

10:40 PM  

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