Anthems of the City (Next), Blackfriars, 23rd July Act #38

Candidate for oddest gig/event of the year (and that’s saying something). To listen to a vinyl copy of a thirty eight year old album, on ‘state of the art hi-fi equipment’ in the basement of Blackfriars, in the company of two of the performers on said record, Zal Cleminson and Ted McKenna (gtr/drums)

Shields and I arrange to meet Billy B in Babbity Bowsters forgetting that it’s The Merchant City Festival. It takes me a full fifteen minutes to get served. We walk round to the venue (having been requested to be prompt) and are kept waiting for half an hour for reasons never quite fully explained. While there, a nearby covers band plays Sweet Home Alabama and the bloke in front of us asks if we’ve ever heard Neil Young’s recording of Southern Man. Doh!

Introduced by a journo-chappy with a clipboard who, to be honest, didn’t seem too familiar with the record in question or the period/background that spawned it, the album plays track by track, with the two protagonists sitting on a B&Q garden bench drinking Rioja and an unidentified amber beverage. While aware that this is Nerdsville Central (they applaud every song), I try to placate a bored looking Shields. Surprisingly when the Q&A begins they, Zal ‘n’ Hugh, transpire to be far wittier and articulate than I would have given them credit for. Bill points out that if you close your eyes then Zal sounds just like Graeme Sounness talking, he does! Many topics are covered but basically they reckon they could have ‘made it’ much bigger but were hampered by being considered a comedy band (viz Delilah). Zal questioned the whole validity of The Penthouse Tapes and more than hinted that mental problems may have been the reason that they split up with Alex. At this point, Bill Bones Esq. asked a lengthy question. When I say lengthy, I mean that small civilisations have formed and decayed in shorter periods of time. What Uncle Frank may have called A Small Eternity. Round about this time we all started to receive texts to tell us that Amy Winehouse had died, however I don’t think this was connected to the ramblings of Oor Bill. I think we saw off three pints during this part of the evening. Headed out and onwards to McChuills to witness some Freakbeat Deejays ply their trade, however when we get there it’s bursting at the seams so we repair across High Street and into The Black Bull to chew the fat and discuss what we’d seen. While this place is fine,(what used to be called spit & sawdust, although there’s little sawdust in evidence), a change of scenery is decided upon. A ‘fast black’ then takes us to The Park Bar in Finnieston whereupon, accompanied by a local worthy, Shields immediately demonstrates that she was paying attention at the country dancing lessons when she was a nipper. We slide along Argyll St. towards the brand new Brewdog pub, opposite the Art Galleries, but it’s even busier that McChuills so we then visit The Stirling Castle. Big mistake. A pox on this place! Empty apart from seven or eight shadowy characters, some of who may have escaped from Bates Motel, they along with the bar staff snigger at Shields asking after the provenance of their white wine. Boo!

To make your party go with a swing, Whisky and Sherry, Brandy and Gin!

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