FROM THE ARCHIVES – 23 DECEMBER 2008

GIG REVIEW : MALCOLM MIDDLETON’S ‘BURST NOEL’

FAIRFIELD CLUB, GLASGOW : FRIDAY 19th DECEMBER

Now I could take the really lazy way out and simply direct you to a website where my compadre and boozing partner for the evening (Mike of Manic Pop Thrills) has already penned a glowing review, as well as provide a link to an amazing album of snaps from the event.

But that wouldn’t be the done thing…..

As I mentioned in the preview, it was initially actually a bit of a toss-up between going to the inaugural Burst Noel shindig and making a return visit to see Martin Stephenson for a second successive night. In the end, it was the great line-up, combined with the intrigue of getting along to another different venue in Glasgow, not forgetting the attraction of the celebrity DJ, that led to a night out in the environs of a club that still bears the name of a long-closed shipyard in the Govan area of the city.

And while I know from talking to a friend who had his first ever sighting of Martin at the Accies Club last Friday that I missed out on something pretty special, I am willing to utter the phrase….. je ne regrette nien.

All three support bands on this bill had their moments, although technical difficulties (i.e. a violin that wouldn’t allow itself to be miked up) meant that Strike The Colours had to cut the set to a mere 4 songs. I hadn’t seen The Phantom Band before last week, nor indeed heard any of their stuff, but I reckon there was enough to make me want to find out more about them, and I’ll probably purchase their debut LP when it hits the shops in early 2009.

I was familiar enough with De Rosa in that I’d seen them live on a few occasions and have a copy of the debut LP Mend in my collection. Their set was topped and tailed with familiar songs, but the bulk of it was drawn from as yet unreleased material that was more than satisfactory and which went down well with most of the audience, which I reckon was about 300-strong.

But none of them came remotely close to matching the performance of headliner Malcolm Middleton. This was a gig unlike any other I’ve ever seen from him – for one thing he didn’t automatically close his eyes when he was singing lead vocals – and he was more than happy to trade words with members of the audience.

It was a set list that drew from all four of his solo albums, as well as a couple of new songs. And it confirmed what I’ve always maintained in the face of incredulous non-believers – that Malky makes music you can dance to.

I’ll admit things were probably helped by the fact that I had enjoyed a few vodkas over the previous few hours at incredibly low prices (£1.24 for a generous measure), and that I was in a great mood thanks to the efforts of the support bands and the DJs. But from the moment you walked into the venue and saw the low-stage with minimalist backdrop, as well as the old fashioned disco lights, it was clear that this was a night when fun, fun, fun was the name of the game.

And just as with The Wedding Present the other week, it was a fantastic one-two near the end that proved the personal highlight – in this case We’re All Going To Die and Death Love Depression Love Death which led to a spontaneous bit of pogoing from your scribe (and I can only apologise to anyone who was there and found themselves distressed by the sad efforts of a fat bloke in an old Blur t-shirt thinking he was 20 years younger…).

It was not far short of midnight, and after around an hour on stage that Malky called a halt to proceedings, with a truly wonderful and moving version of Love Comes In Waves that showed off not only his talents as a song-writer and guitarist, but demonstrated that he fronts a band that has got better and better with each passing show.

If I thought that was the end of the joy and festivities, I was well wide of the mark. The dance floor was filled for the next 45 minutes or so with an eclectic mix of songs – I won’t publicly admit to liking all of them, but hell, it was a party and parties are there for dancing……and making a fool of yourself. So a big thumbs up has to go to superstar DJ Aidan Moffat and his wonderful sidekick Noj for the way they kept the entertainment going in between the band performances through a combination of great music, hilarious patter and the way they organised and managed (in the loosest sense of the word) the funniest game of musical chairs you could ever hope to witness.

All this, plus a quick chat (and photo) with the gorgeous Emma Pollock, made it a night to remember.

So……. I do insist that if Malky organises a follow-up in 2009 that every last one of you make your way to Glasgow so that you can be reminded just how much fun a decent Xmas night out really can be….. and if we can turn it into a two-day/night bender involving a gig with The Daintees, then the world will seem a nigh on perfect place.

mp3 : Malcolm Middleton – Death Love Depression Death Love
mp3 : Malcolm Middelton – Love Comes In Waves

JC

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