Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Òran Mór, 3/5/18

A loud cheer greets Seun Kuti as he bursts onto the stage in a dazzling blue and yellow disco-floor suit with shoes to match.

Letting the band play the first few songs before making his entrance, if anyone in the crowd isn’t yet moving their feet, they soon are as Kuti’s high-energy all-singing, all-dancing approach has him dripping with sweat 10 minutes in.

From Okon Iyambe cradling his shekere like a baby to the costumed dancers/ singers, the packed stage is a sight to behold.

The 13-strong ensemble all get their share of the limelight as Kuti lets several take centre stage to boast their individual talents with their instruments.

The lively afrobeat lifts the roof as Kuti sings several of the songs from his new album Black Times.

‘African Dream’ criticises the American Dream and western culture while ‘Struggle Sounds’ depicts the fight of the people against corruption and for freedom.

Kuti’s discontent with ‘the system’ is a clear common theme throughout.

He proudly speaks of the control he had over this new album after investing heavily in it and it is a clear this is something he wants to use to speak his mind.

‘Last Revolutionary’ is a message that the people of Kuti’s native Nigeria and other oppressed countries will not stop fighting and will not give up until they have achieved their ultimate goal of freedom.

Kuti takes time out of the gig to speak out against governments or “corporate departments of public control” as he calls them.

Although not particularly radical or revolutionary, his lengthy speaking out against racism and homophobia is well-received by a crowd with several superfans evident including Kuti’s ‘fan of the night’ who throughout the gig cleans his shoes, kisses his hand and passes him a joint from the crowd.

Despite the lulls that were the monologues throughout, on a musical and entertainment side it is a very fun, action-packed night for all and with any luck Kuti will be back in Glasgow soon.

As the tattoo on his back referencing his famous father says, ‘Fela Lives’ on through his youngest son.

Words: Chris Cox

Das Plastixx (single launch), Bluebirds, The Bleeders at Audio, 29/4/18

The Bleeders seem to have morphed out of The Modests and as a duet of drums and guitar create a hard rocking wall of sound that hits you right between the eyes.

A superbly energetic performance from lead Jackson Harvey is only briefly interrupted by a stage dive that disconnects his guitar, but not by the broken string, which seems evident for most of the set.

An accomplished performance given his first gig as a duo with Daniel McGuigan was only last November.

Their blistering paced alt rock performance sets the tempo for the rest of the evening.

Bluebirds serve up some garage rock and blues with a psychedelic edge; dark and menacing, Daniel Telford’s angst driven lyrics and charisma are the focus of this performance.

Mighty powerful delivery and gritty subject matter with a punk mentality furnish an outstanding performance that seems all too short.

This is Das Plastixx’s night and as the band which formed in 2016 release their latest single ‘You Wait for War’ as the follow up to their debut EP Button Up in January this year.

A four piece of guitars, bass, drums and Jack Mohan on vocals and keys they have a very full grunge rock sound with a hint of psychedelia, due in the main to the keys, but with some outstanding guitar work by Mark Anthony Carroll who fills out the songs with some first-class guitar solos.

Mohan gives a bit of a Liam Gallagher vibe when not on the keys with his hands behind his back; he appears to be wearing a tiara, but I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with hair trouble.

Garage rock with a post punk 90’s feel and great instrumentals their individualism sets them apart, their future should be bright.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Natalie Prass at Mono, 29/4/18

It has been three years since Virginian singer-songwriter Natalie Prass emerged with her self-titled debut, a collection of quirky, 60s-inspired folk.

As she returns in Glasgow this evening in advance of her upcoming second record, The Future & The Past, there have been hints of a shift in style to more outright, unashamed pop.

The barely-covered backstage area at Mono exposes the beautiful pre-show ritual of Prass and her band, jovially dancing as they ready themselves to go onstage.

It is perhaps just as well they are suitably warmed up as Prass’ newfound style provokes dancing by its very nature.

Energetic opener ‘Oh My’ incorporates elements of funk and soul, while ‘Never Too Late’ features dreamy psychedelic synth.

Early airings of fan favourites ‘Your Fool’ and ‘Bird Of Prey’ are bolstered to suit the new direction and are all the better for it, sounding as fresh as they ever have done.

The lyrical content of Prass’ newer material is a reaction to the undercurrent of misogyny that flows through the political spectrum of her home nation.

Recent single ‘Sisters’ is the most prominent, and when performed tonight, is a defiant celebration of feminism, with the call-to-arms refrain on the empowering chorus of “keep your sisters close to you”.

An excellent ‘Why Don’t You Believe In Me’ is delivered fantastically by her talented band, providing them with the opportunity to flex their creative muscles during an extended jam.

Their leader is the real star of the show though, and Prass has become a far more confident and assured front-woman since she was last here three years ago.

An engaging performer, she body pops her way through the upbeat ‘Short Court Style’, and even when she moves behind the keys for a solo ‘Far From You’ – a touching tribute to Karen Carpenter – her presence commands the whole room.

Before closing the main set with ‘Ain’t Nobody’, Prass brings out cake and candles to wish her keyboard player happy birthday, as if the evening needed any more of a joyous feel to it.

Tonight’s show may have been a precursor for the new record, and to road-test new songs in front of an audience brimming with anticipation, but it instead feels like a celebratory victory lap.

It’s clear from the material premiered tonight that Natalie Prass’ forthcoming sophomore LP will be the defining of a true great.

Words: Graham McCusker

Siobhan Wilson with the Demi Quartet at Edinburgh Reid Concert Hall, 28/4/18

Somewhere in heaven an angel is belting out psalms like it’s Friday night karaoke in Govan.

Fortunately this transcendental trade-off means that those of us present at the Reid Concert Hall on Saturday evening are treated to Siobhan Wilson singing with the voice of an angel.

If I were to read an article that opened with those two sentences I would probably find myself involuntarily dry-retching into my jumper sleeve, as I’m sure many of you currently are.

Wilson’s stunningly pure voice however is wholly deserving of such vomit-inducing hyperbole.

The young Elgin-born songwriter’s second album There Are No Saints, released on Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Recordswas one of the highlights of 2017 and she recreates it for us tonight accompanied by her regular guitarist and the Demi Quartet – of whom there is, somewhat perplexingly, five.

She takes to the stage resplendent – although a little nervy – in rainbow coloured fairy wings and after taking a few tentative lines to find her voice – and her confidence – she bursts into life along with the Demi Quartet and gives a swelling rendition of ‘Whatever Helps’ to open the show.

As she continues, one can’t help but feel that Wilson is holding back slightly.

The daunting size of the Reid Concert Hall has not been matched by the size of the PA system and at times it seems as though the young singer is being constrained by the sound technicians inability – or unwillingness – to crank the volume up.

Five songs into the set after a haunting new track that Wilson neglects to tell us the title of, the Demi Quartet – glowing with admiration though they may be – feel embarrassingly underused.

Fortunately she follows this up with ‘Dear God’ – a beautiful and devastating song that lends itself well to the string accompaniment, although is slightly tainted by the guitarist’s overzealous tambourine playing.

Despite this the song stands out as a high point and Wilson uses the room’s incredible acoustics to her advantage by moving around her microphone to recreate the haunting, ethereal backing vocals present on the studio recording.

Wilson’s cutesy stage persona somewhat shatters the illusion her thoughtful lyrics create, as she makes a remark about not being used to such a “posh” venue, so posh, in fact, that there isn’t even a bar!

Fortunately for the promoters the audience in attendance is possibly the driest group of people who have ever congregated anywhere outside of a church hall – a testament to Wilson’s folky appeal.

‘Disaster and Grace’ sees Wilson move to piano, and proves to be the most sonically successful arrangement of the night as the volume of the piano emboldens her and she allows her voice to soar.

She closes the show – after a second encore – with a cover of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’ (no, really), which she delivers with a knowing smiling after explaining that she was challenged to do so via an online poll.

All in all, a slightly underwhelming gig that is carried largely by Wilson’s incredible vocal capabilities while the Demi Quartet remain regretfully under-utilised (possibly under-rehearsed).

I had high hopes for this show so I won’t pretend not to be disappointed.

I’ll give Wilson the benefit of the doubt since this was a special one-off collaborative performance, and hope that I can catch her usual stage show another time and find it more up to my expectations. 

Words: Thomas Cross

The Animal Mothers, FRANKY’S EVIL PARTY, FAT BLACK CATS at Sleazy’s 28/4/18

An evening of musical debauchery at Sleazy’s kicks off with one of the busiest garage punk bands around FAT BLACK CATS.

Always guaranteeing an intense powerful performance tonight is no different; fast paced strong rhythms and pounding drums and FAT BLACK CATS blast through their repertoire with taps aff, swapping instruments and stirring the audience into a frenzy, which seems to be their mantra.

If you’re out shopping for an opening act to get the party started, then look no further than this multi-talented raucous trio.

FRANKY’S EVIL PARTYis back in town and has their own distinct views on how to party.

They deliver an equally intense but notably angrier and darker spectacle than FAT BLACK CATS.

Where each of the cats is at times the front man there can be no denying that Josh is the focal point in FEP with his onstage antics, unique dancing and frightening fervour.

Kicking off with their latest release ‘Dolph Lundgren’ their delivery is as tight as a drum.

The driving, pounding and wailing set includes live favourite ‘Disco Inferno’ and new songs ‘Scummy John’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance’.

They throw the rulebook out of the window doing their own thing and nobody is going to get in the way.

The tension and barrage of sound gets under your skin like they’re using some form of voodoo.

The Animal Mothers is headlining this one and if you aren’t emotionally drained by this point then they are determined to extract what is left.

The Animal Mothers are prolific when it comes to laying down tracks and tonight they begin by introducing us to new song ‘Tsunami’.

Rapid-fire succinct rock ‘n’ roll tinged surf punk they fire through some of the best of their recent album, The Animal Mothers Must Be Destroyed.

Wallace Pate on lead is in charge of whipping up the audience with the assistance of FAT BLACK CATS who’ve got it all going on at the front of the stage.

A couple of new songs, ‘Holy Junkie’ and ‘In the Swamp’, and we finish with the usual finale ‘I Am Distortion’ and that’s it it’s over; breathe!

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Zoë Bestel (album launch), Annie Booth, Jared Celosse at Hug and Pint, 22/4/18

The tentacles of Last Night for Glasgow are stretching further and further so much so that with links to Olive Grove Records they can call on the services of Jared Celosse to support the Zoë Bestel, Transciencealbum launch.

Three solo artists in this intimate venue it is a sign of the expected atmosphere when you find the front of the stage seated (in fact with some reserved tables).

22-year-old singer/songwriter Celosse takes centre stage behind his keyboard and treats us to a set of beautiful and haunting songs about loneliness and love lost.

Celosse treats us to a taster of his recent EP, Four Cold Walls, and you can hear a pin drop during ‘Lost My Voice’.

In a short set we are treated to the first play of a brand-new song, all of which sounds very unique with standout individual vocals explained in part by his upbringing from London to Glasgow via Prague.

Annie Booth recently graced the same stage at her own album launch with a full band in tow, but tonight once more a solitary figure takes the stage.

Despite not having had a good day and deciding to run without a setlist (deciding which song to play as she goes along) Booth treats us to a set showcasing the recent album An Unforgiving Light.

Booth tells us early doors that she may not be brave enough to play a brand-new song sadly it doesn’t materialise; maybe a setlist would have forced her hand.

Regardless Booth gets the guitar to sing, with her wonderfully unique vocals.

It’s always a treat to listen to her performance and as ever there is an air of fragility belied by the confidence in her execution.

It always adds to understanding to know the context in which a song was written, and Booth explains that ‘Reverie’ is about the emotional turmoil after getting drunk.

Booth leaves the stage to be replaced by a guitar stand with two sizes of ukulele and this is the most ‘roadie’ action we’ve seen all night.

Zoë Bestel’s Transcienceis the latest release on LNFG and this is the first of two launch nights, with a Voodoo Rooms date in Edinburgh the other.

Bestel explains that she is going to perform the album as per the tracklisting despite the fact this will involve frequent changes of ukulele as well as some retuning.

Bestel takes time out to explain some of her thoughts in her writing, including the inspiration of the view of the Galloway Hills from her bedroom window, ‘Spiders’ written about the way the media portray and perpetuate hatred or the single ‘Eye for An Eye’, written in 2015 after the Syrian air strikes.

She goes on to tell us ‘Gumusservi’ is the Turkish word for the oldest relationship – which is in fact the relationship of the moonlight shining over water.

The performance is mesmerising and the audience reverential with barely a word being spoken during the three performances.

With the album showcase being over it is time for a cover as a finale and ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack is wondrous and just so right.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Madonnatron, Chupa Cabra, Objectified, Yung KP at Broadcast, 13/4/18

Yung KP is ‘young’ in every sense of the word having only gigged live since November 2017.

A straightforward three-piece guitar band with strong punk leanings they recently launched an EP on Fuzzkill Records, they have strong credentials and are building their craft with a number of live gigs this year.

Short sharp songs, aggressive vocals and equally aggressive drums and guitar these guys certainly let us know they are in the house.

Objectified is potentially the most exciting and unique band on the Glasgow scene at the moment.

More of a collective than a band, with a fusion of diverse ideas and influences, which crossover at just the right point.

Their performance is mesmerising with seven individual performers it’s hard to know where to focus.

If the band members seem autonomous then the songs are even more so; you get truly engaged when you don’t know who is going to sing next, what style it will take and how the rhythm will be formed.

With apparently no setlist and a quick chat to decide what’s next we are treated to the stand out songs from recent album, Talent, including ‘Behave Tony’, ‘(Thinkin’ About) Converting to Islam’, ‘The Slave Can Sing’ and ‘El Patron’ where Charlotte Arnhold loses her drum machine, but that doesn’t matter as they still demonstrate their diversity whether it be screaming guitars, synths, trumpet or the drums providing the infectious rhythm.

There is something just so right about how this all comes together, it shouldn’t work but it does.

Chupa Cabra take to the stage next with a more straightforward three-piece line up.

The garage rock band from North Wales bring their fast paced punky, rock n roll with singer and guitarist Hayden manically strutting about the stage like a latter-day Wilko Johnson.

His vocals are fast and fierce and where he is manic, Nathan on the bass is mister cool swaggering about the stage.

Songs from their recent self-titled album including ‘Assembly Line’, ‘King Leech’ and he single ‘Venice and Mars’ go down well with an appreciative audience.

An excellent set of straight up garage rock with loads of energy they have a strong punk vibe built around some classic rock and roll sounds.

It could have all went wrong when Hayden challenges the crowd about “all being from the Art School”, however it passes by with a “we love Glasgow” and all is good.

Chupa Cabra labelmates (Trashmouth Records) feminist post-punks Madonnatron are the headliners and sing with angst and feeling.

They deliver full rich sounds with multiple vocalists, dreamy and haunting at the same time the songs are a bit sinister exploring the darker side of femininity.

With the strong female contingent now commanding the front of the stage there is plenty of audience participation in the strong choruses and plenty dancing to boot.

With their new single ‘Mermaids’, which is performed on the night, getting some traction on Radio 6 Madonnatron are on the up and given this was a free gig with four excellent sets there can be no complaints.

Madonnatron close the proceedings with a fine gesture when they make a collection for the Simon Community.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Mt. Doubt – ‘Conduits’ [Scottish Fiction]

To be assumed to be an “indie” guitar band can often limit an act – not for Mt. Doubtthough, they aren’t afraid to use their highly polished pop sensibility while avoiding the garage style recording quality that so often defines the genre.

Featuring on 2017 EP, Moon Landings, this fresh, bright and affecting single shows what can be done when an idea is cohesive in its parts.

The result is a subtle yet engaging track that pours melodic content from front to back between the lead vocal on the verses to the gang choir of the chorus.

Pop is the best way I can describe this track, and that term really shouldn’t have the stigma that it does thanks to the sugar coated mainstream that it’s so closely associated with.

Instead it should be reclaimed for bands like Mt. Doubt who have wrangled hooks and polish to create a genuine pleasure in listening, while still having something to say.

‘Conduits’ is a gateway drug to an exceptional back catalogue that everyone should hear.

Moon Landings by Mt. Doubt

Words: Krist McKenna

THE NINTH WAVE – ‘New Kind Of Ego’ [Distiller]

‘New Kind Of Ego’, the latest single from THE NINTH WAVE, finds the four-piece focusing on insecurities and trust issues.

The track builds gradually, beginning with a piercing, distorted guitar, as lead vocalist Haydn Park-Patterson channels his inner Robert Smith delivering the heartbreakingly beautiful howl of “you don’t seem to care and it kills me”.

By the time the minute mark hits, the whole band has joined him and the track flits at various points between melodic electronica, and cacophonous post-punk.

A more complete single you will struggle to find all year, and this is one which finds a band marry their sound and image perfectly.

THE NINTH WAVE is unquestionably one of the most exciting bands in the country at the moment.

After a stream of consistently excellent releases, they raise the bar yet again with ‘New Kind Of Ego’, which more than justifies the belief that many industry tastemakers share that it is a matter of when, not if, the Glaswegians break into the mainstream.

Words: Graham McCusker

Michael Timmons – Bone Coloured [Gargleblast]

After a long gestation period, Bone Coloured, the debut album from singer-songwriter Michael Timmons, has finally readied itself to be unveiled.

On the back of shows with Out Lines and Julia Jacklin, as well as significant airplay on BBC Radio 6, the Glaswegian has quietly creeped into national consciousness with very little fanfare.

Rather than following the formulaic bullshit of the majority of his male peers, in unashamedly writing sappy, mediocre pop songs to make pretty young things fall in love, Timmons makes it abundantly clear from the offset that his intentions could not be any further from this.

Opener ‘Painting’ begins with the haunting “are you finished yet? It’s time to forget”, setting a lyrical tone that the the record largely follows, centred around forgetfulness of places and faces.

The stripped-back production on the record goes perfectly with Timmons’ heart-rending vocal, and largely single-tracked guitar, drenched in reverb, providing atmospheric textures that his songs have not had the benefit of until now.

‘Material’ could easily slot onto any Thom Yorke record, with more than a nod to his trademark lyrical overwhelming self-doubt and paranoia as he whimpers “you keep it inside”, before distortion gets added to the mix to create a cacophonous sound.

‘Hold On Sea’ is the first sign of positivity on the record, and also shows off Timmons’ unique form of song structure.

Introducing itself with an uplifting, fingerpicked melody, before Timmons ensures the morbidity returns from the first line – “find a knife, and hold it tightly, and break the skin”– providing a wonderfully bleak musical juxtaposition.

It is only on ‘Awkward Stare’ that Timmons veers off course; a tepid ballad which is stolen from the Frightened Rabbit cutting room floor, but stripped of any urgency, it sticks out like a sore thumb on a record in which the beauty lies in it’s consistency.

In the space of less than 40-minutes, Timmons breaks your heart, then apologetically glues it back together again.

It is clear that the Glaswegian has taken his time on the sonic landscape of his debut, creating an intriguing listening experience, while still allowing the subtleties of his vocal delivery to remain a focal point throughout.

Bone Coloured by Michael Timmons

Words: Graham McCusker