Category Archives: Gigs

Ride my face to Lesmahagow!

Hug and Pint, Glasgow,
December 4th 2018

As they down tools and kick back for the looming festive period, Pygmy Twylyte can surely be excused and allowed a couple of minutes for a bout of collective backslapping.
Personally I’d prefer more tunes from the early Mothers of Invention, however, that minor complaint aside, I’m amazed at the amount of progress this band has made in the short time they have existed. I’ve managed to catch them four times since February ’18 and this particular show was by far the best.
Tonight, I think they hit a particular high point, for several reasons
(a) they avoided the clunky handover of instruments with the then support, Steel Plays Zappa, that they deployed at Bloc (which I thought was actually quite neat but since understand  involved many logistical problems)
(b) they weren’t playing, as a nine piece, while on the postage stamp sized stage of Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh and
(c) they weren’t hampered by the unnaturally woolly and muddy sound, throughout their set, like they were at Hard Rock Glasgow.
Their depth of repertoire and onstage confidence (not that that was ever in short supply) has grown enormously.

Tonight, of course, being the 25th anniversary of  Frank’s demise, was a total celebration of Zappa and they delved deeper into the FZ catalogue than normal.
Poodle heads dangled from the PA, as a giant Imperial moustache poster adorned one wall – it was a particularly nice touch to have voter registration forms to hand, as well as a memorabilia raffle raising funds for Prostate Cancer Research.
The first 2-3 tunes of this evening, like most gigs in small clubs, saw the sound man struggling hard to find his levels and as a result the brass and some of the vocals were ever so slightly impaired. Thereafter they were all clear as a bell and the very same man, on the desk, then spent the rest of his remaining evening texting on his phone.
Highlights were far too numerous to catalogue however special mentions must be made for ‘Montana’, complete with Zircon encrusted tweezers to the fore, and a  superb version of Black Napkins  that seemed to last longer than some South American governments
Elsewhere bag loads of props are deployed with all the abandon of someone who had just ram-raided Tam Shepherds. Had I been wearing a hat I would have doffed it immediately to singer Jim MacDonald for effortlessly reciting the lengthy lyric of Dumb All Over while guitarist Chris Shaw will inevitably, one day, do himself a serious mischief as he attempts to perform guitar with his  legs at 90 degrees apart ‘a la Johnny Ramone’ 😉
What other band invites you to throw snowballs at their drummer as he solos or to bang the gong at the front of stage whenever it takes your fancy?
As ever, a great wee night!
Poodle Bites, Poodle Chews it !

https://www.facebook.com/pygmytwylytezappatribute/
https://www.facebook.com/steeleplayszappa/
https://www.facebook.com/TamShepherds/

 

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Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up! Saucerful of Secrets, Glasgow

Beware performers who say “Are you ready for some rock and roll?”
Thoughts…

The term ‘Curate’s Egg’ was surely invented for events like this? Good in parts, with other areas highly dubious and lumpen in extremis.

At one point, mid gig, during The Nile Song, the singer appropriated a line from Sex Pistol’s ‘Holiday in The Sun’- and at that very same moment John Lydon’s infamous quote “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” flashed across my synapses

It must have seemed a wheeze when the notion of this band was hatched and, I dare say, The Dingwalls and Half Moon shows would have been a spectacle to witness and behold. But I don’t think this is really sit down  ‘Arena’ fodder, to be honest. It’s merely an expensive covers band….and they seem nice guys so I hope/guess they’d be the first to agree
The sound was crystal clear throughout, the lights however, somewhat disappointing,  not really a ‘production’ that one might expect from the PF stable. I was surprised at how rough and under rehearsed they were for being so far into a tour (twenty odd gigs?).
More clams than a whelk stall at the Barras…
It started off really well with one of the guitarists smearing the melody of The Embryo over the riff of Interstellar Overdrive and as ever Astronomy Domine never fails to excite. However, I generally found the subsequent post Saucerful tunes a bit hit and miss.

Basically,  I really enjoyed the Syd material – although See Emily Play was dispatched with all the panache of a wedding band sensing the interval approaching and seeing their lagers sitting ready at the bar – but not the later  ‘post Saucerful’ selections.
Obscured By Clouds was executed flawlessly but remains as pointless and meandering as it is on disc.
Ironically,  the eponymous Saucerful of Secrets was performed with almost Ramones like fervour and haste, and as a result suffered from being far too fast and short, Gary Kemp then performed the coup de grâce with a guitar solo that was far more Purple Rain than Pink Floyd.

Elsewhere, the focus group that signed off on the If/Atom Heart Mother medley should be hunted down and chased through the streets. It was an abomination and did a great disservice to the material in question.

So, I’ve ticked that box, won’t be back!

Six out of ten

Paul Towndrow’s Deepening the River, Glasgow, 11th August 2018 ******


I missed the premier of this, the night before, due to being through at the Fringe to catch Orange Claw Hammer. At the time of writing, Google Search finds me no review of this splendid evening, so to correct that glitch, here’s my tuppence-worth!

All my fears that the evening’s ‘experiment’ might just turn out to be the bastard son of The Grit Orchestra were  completely extinguished, within the first thirty seconds of tonight’s show. Instead, an engaging, evolving one hour long soundscape unfolded before the audience, seated in the salubrious  The Merchants House of Glasgow, slowly transporting those lucky audients away on an exotic sonic travelogue across several continents.
With Paul Towndrow at the helm of his twenty two strong Keywork Orchestra, the sonic palette that the composer had to hand was sampled to the extreme, in a performance that deployed all the usual Scottish big band suspects.
It’s always a great pleasure to relish the Power-Bop of the perma-grinning Konrad Wiszniewski and tonight was no exception.  The Brass and Rhythm sections were well represented, as you might expect in a venture of this size, but Towndrow had also spiced the band up with a variety of long whistles, pipes & fiddles and not forgetting the poppy red Sousaphone of Michael Owers which was featured in a ‘Dixieland‘ section. However the (sp)icing on the cake, for myself, was the tabla and harmonium served up by the extremely difficult to see, sitting cross legged on the floor, Sodhi.
Muscular, punchy and never discordant, if I had to describe this music ever so briefly to someone standing at a bus stop, then it reminded me very much of what a  melange of Mike Gibbs, Don Ellis and Mike Westbrook might sound like…and that’s a good thing!

Towndrow and his cohorts were on ferociously good form tonight, every one a hero, with the bandleader and composer playing as well as I’ve ever seen him.
I’ve given them six stars out of five, the extra one being for stamina (there was no break at all in the proceedings).
Should he/they do it again get yourself along there, pronto.

Only real downside for me tonight was the number of people ‘phone filming’ during the gig, Really? In a venue as intimate as this? Show some respect to the musicians and the rest of the audience!!!

For the record, I took three stills during the bows and applause. The Google fairies stitched them together overnight without me asking.

The Keywork Orchestra were
Trumpet – Sean Gibbs
Trumpet – Tom MacNiven
Trumpet – Tom Walsh
Trumpet – Neil Yates
Trombone – Chris Grieve
Trombone – Phil O’Malley
Trombone – Rick Taylor
Bass Trombone & Sousaphone – Michael Owers
Saxophone – Rachael Cohen (Alto)
Saxophone – Bill Fleming (Baritone)
Saxophone – Helena Kay (Tenor)
Saxophone – Martin Kershaw (Alto + Woodwinds)
Saxophone – Paul Towndrow (Alto)
Saxophone – Konrad Wiszniewski (Tenor)
Bass – Euan Burton
Drums – Alyn Cosker
Piano – Steve Hamilton
Vibraphone – Miro Herak
Whistles+ Pipes – Ross Ainslie
Fiddle – Adam Sutherland
Fiddle – Laura Wilkie
Tabla – Sodhi

 

Snarky Puppy, Glasgow ABC, 2nd May 2017

I had only encountered Snarky Puppy on YouTube, prior to this. This gig was a shock for me. These days, at the ABC, I tend to bowl up and discover that (due to the act’s obscurity and/or demographic of the audience) the act that I’m there to see has been demoted to the far smaller hall below the big room. Tonight, not so, it’s mobbed. The crowd is young with lots of women. Most in early thirties, if that!

I get the impression a lot of them are actually musicians (the guy behind me enthusiastically explained the various time signatures to what looks like his Dad and Uncle – they, in turn are more focussed on the price of the drinks for sale. “Four eighty five, for a pint? Ferfucksake!”)

We have no sooner arrived than there’s a loud round of applause. ‘House of Waters’ are playing their first gig outside the US. I greatly enjoyed the young trio but wondered how much of this I could listen to at home before it became too ‘samey’. There’s only so much you can do with bass, drums and hammered dulcimer on heavy FX pedals.

Quite a long changeover followed and then Snarky Puppy  came on stage. A nine piece (Bass, Drums, percussion, two keyboards, guitar and a brass section) The band were changing instruments after, and sometimes during, every tune. Each one of them a maestro.The level of musicianship you would expect to find on latter day Steely Dan material.

I enjoyed about 90% of the show, I guess, with the remainder looming too close to the red area on the musak-ometer for my liking

Being completely instrumental, and me being unaware of their catalogue, I then found myself occasionally mind wandering, and creating dreamscapes to accompany the tunes being performed (both bands annoyingly and repeatedly referred to ‘songs’. I’m sorry but songs require singers and lyrics. What you were playing were ‘tunes’)

This evening’s dreamscapes were…

Miles Davis motor biking around inside The Tyrell Corporation avoiding acrobatic replicant assassins while trying to score his next fix.

An aerial ‘drone shot’ of a vast lake of flamingos all taking to the wing simultaneously.

George Clinton dressed as a clown riding into Dodge City on a small pony, wandering into Sophie’s Saloon and drinking sasparilla.

Frank Cannon turning his bathroom upside down looking for his lost shaving brush in nain (that was the muzak)

Wonderful. Go see ’em!