Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Proprietors Of Ears, Mouths and Tickets,

The stepped venue is my favourite kind: I like when I can find a unique vantage point above the majority. If I can find myself a staircase, a railing, a bench, a pillar or shoulder of the sound guy, then I will have an unusual position. I’ve found that the Lemon Tree has a reasonable amount of prime observation points. Viewing is possible from three levels, however, it seems that the upper two are for the chatterboxes. I don’t understand why anyone would make the effort to book tickets, pay for them and then talk through proceedings.

The Bellyaches massive only travel with me for the benefit of company during the car ride and the soundcheck. Visiting the bar and the toilet during the performance are also prohibited under Bellyaches law. I’d be full of shame if I was ever to be heard ordering a beverage during a quick interlude in a song.

I am quite skilled at filtering out distractions so I was able to take something from my two-gig week.  Not much has changed since I last saw Public Service Broadcasting. Everest, the encore tune, gripped me on radio airplay but most of their other songs are best complimented as part of the audio-visual package. The numbers based on WWII are given a boost by the film clips which cause the nostalgia to flow – I have no wartime memories, only recollections of high school history, Dad’s Army and the plastic pieces of food in Kirkcaldy Museum that represented rations. The similarity to Can during Spitfire is still striking to me, although this is still best received by the crowd. New single, Signal 30, is portrayed well with the clips of old car chases (is it a modern day equivalent to Nervous Norvus' Tranfusion?).

Despite the televisions and screens everywhere, one chatterbox only noticed the videos towards the end. I can’t help but think his £12 would have been better spend down the Red Lion. I’d rather swap all of his words for just a couple from the band leader, Willgoose Jr. Esq., who again only communicated through computer-generated speech.

If I could forgive talking at all, it might be at a Public Service Broadcasting gig - where words are few. At a Roddy Woomble gig, there is no way I can muster acceptance. Roddy, this time, led a 5-piece band, including his Seonaid Aitken and Soren McLean who been key collaborators throughout his solo career.

This tour is to promote his latest album, Listen to Keep. I must admit that I wasn’t sure of the album on first listen, I didn’t think that it showed any progress on Impossible Song and Other Songs, but I slowly warmed to it and in this live showing, it came alive for me. Roddy has such a warm and genuine tone that it’s difficult not to like his work. Many of his new solo songs are as valued in my affections as his Idlewild catalogue and its telling that he did not include any Idlewild songs in the performance, something that he has previously done.

One of the major highlights of the night was Seonaid Aitken’s violin playing. When I’ve previously seen Roddy, he hasn’t played an encore and he’s often decried the notion, however, on this occasion, they left the stage. Only, for Soren and Seonaid to return on their own; sitting awkwardly waiting on the others, they began to play, and before they knew it, they were playing a version of Penguin Café Orchestra’s Music For a New Found Harmonium - it was a delight.

The artists, Public Service Broadcasting and Roddy Woomble’s band, deserve our respect and our attention. I pity the towns that fail to give either, the people who show their ignorance are those who ruin it for others. Empty seats and gabbling hoards are both equally bad for the morale of the musicologist.


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