live reviews

LIVE REVIEW The Chemical Brothers Glasgow: Barrowland, Fri 26 Nov mu

Wankers. That's what they called Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer in the 705 when they noodled away at their banks of keyboards and double-headed guitars for hours and hours. Wankers. That’s what they called Guns 'n' Roses with their fifteen-minute ballad epics in the 905. Sadly, no one until now has dared draw such comparisons between the untouchable Chemical Brothers and their ancestors of musical wankery.

They footer and fiddle about with their keyboards after and before songs for so long that instead of providing a calm-before-the-storm moment, they bore the arse off you as you wait for things to get going again. Such were the gaps that you could have chucked on a support band between songs. We're not asking for breakneck pace, just recognition that there’s a crowd here.

They also fail to take heed of the lessons learnt by their live contemporaries, Orbital and Underworld: to win at the live music game, you should acknowledge what has gone before and progress. Both bands take heed of the rock gig and all its pitfalls and recognise the concepts of crowd pleasing and experimentation. but

Saggy old tarts?: The Chemical Brothers

rarely leave a crowd unsatisfied. The Chemical Brothers tease like a pair of saggy old tarts, dropping familiar samples from their most loved work only to snatch them from under the crowds noses. So no ‘Let Forever Be' or ‘Life Is Sweet', and about 30 seconds of 'Electrobank'. 'Setting Sun’ becomes a hunk of weighty, uninspired techno. It's the equivalent of hitching up their skirts to show a bit of leg, only to slap you in the chops and make off with your wallet.

It's not all torture. They do whip up an initial storm with ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl' and 'Block Rockin' Beats', only to bottle it and rapidly decend into dull self-indulgence.

On record, the Chemical Brothers work. They cunnineg distil the most appealing lumps of 25 years of dance music into easy to digest, bite-sized lumps, and chuck them out to huge acclaim. And yes, they are very good at it; the aforementioned 'Block Rockin' Beats' does the verse-chorus-verse thing via Funkadelic and Schoolly D to quite spectacular, if obvious ends. Others feel equally transparent, but entertaining - New Order plus 'I Feel Love' plus Jeff Mills equals 'Out Of Control', anyone?

It is a shame that too few of their stylish vinyl moments are captured and put to use in their live sets. Maybe one day they'll master the live arena, but for the moment they seem like two geeks with knob-twiddling obsessions. (Mark Robertson)

f .4 5...

points the moment they walk on stage looking like portly accountants in low- rent Kraftwerk drag. This tongue-in- cheek tribute to the electronic pioneers is also to be found in the band's music: Salaryman bring together a heady combination of tinny dance sounds, including the vaguely Egyptian synth runs that peppered the earliest electro tracks, and melodies suited to cop show chase scenes. When these joyous avant-popisms are backed by lightning


LIVE REVIEW Salaryman *ir'kfifi Mina mu

Edinburgh: Cafe Royal, Tue 23 Nov.

On vinyl, Mina are something of a treat, taking as they do the key elements of smooth early disco, filtering them through an indie aesthetic and spicing things up with a dash of 805 vocoder pop. When the band perform live, the glossy synthesis found on the mini-album ‘Kryptonite' comes unstuck, allowing their various influences to shine in turn. On numbers like 'JR' the less subtle treatment comes off, with loose

Paying their dues: Salaryman

bedroom grooves brought up short by waves of art-rockin' guitar noise and lolloping funk breakdowns. Set closer 'Minsc' also benefits from a touch of dumbing down, crescendoing into a bona fide lurching disco monster.

At times, however, these shifts are a touch too abrupt. Some songs disappear under the weight of the band’s desire to cram in their boundary crossing ideals, with the result that the audience are presented with a snatch of disco, a taste of guitar rock and so on, without ever getting to experience the genuinely innovative merging of styles which Mina are capable.

And so to Salaryman, who score

fast, tub-thumping heavy rock breaks, Add N to X spring to mind. But where the Sheffield group constrain themselves to largely soulless workouts thanks to their retro-chic adherence to outmoded, limiting vintage equipment, Salaryman manage to warp their chosen milieu, lending dated tropes a fresh sense of urgency and introducing surprises - like a delicate e-bowed guitar - that prevent the music becoming a simplistic homage to 80$ proto-dance. In fact, it’s hard to find a downside. If there is one, it's the fact that it is difficult to differentiate between tracks, but that matters not a jot when the Salaryman template is so close to perfect instrumental pop.

(Jack Mottram)

live reviews MUSIC


Senna Glasgow: King Tut's, Thu 25 Nov.

‘Lord bless you for what you are about to receive,‘ intones Senna's dog-collared guitarist. And so blessed are the meek and weak-kneed of tonight's audience, for we are graced with music powerful enough to fall over to as demonstrated by the band’s Ian Curtis/ Jarvis Cocker frontman during tonight's opener. Indeed, Joy Division’s intensity runs deep within Senna, but is mercifully overlaid by euphoric layers of amplified lounge-pop gorgeousness. This isn't just reserved for the music their onstage presence is electrifying, their collective personality infectious. The drawback of all of this is that six people onstage sometimes make things a bit too cluttered; maybe sensing this, the band opt for a Bontempi-driven interlude which soon evolves into a controlled funk implosion. We’re then graced with an almighty finale that veers from a walk in the park to a frantic sprint home through a cloudburst of sonic summer rain. 'Once again, time has the better of us,’ concludes the wannabe guitar-vicar. Time enough, though, for miracles. (Jan F. Zeschky)

Rancher Edinburgh: Cas Rock, Sun 28 Nov.

Rancher are going to be huge. Tonight, the band mix the quirky country chic of Beck with the community singalong grooves of The Stone Roses to come up with a genuinely original and exciting racket in front of a rammed Cas Rock.

The singer has the requisite pretty- boy looks and cocky arrogance of a star in the making, while the rest of the band, especially the manic, hunched pedal steel player, add to the positive vibes on stage by generally looking as if being in Rancher is the best thing ever. Which it probably is.

In last song, 'Theme From Rancher’, they spell out their name in case we’d forgotten it. There'll be no need for that soon, as their name is going to be everywhere. (Doug Johnstone)

Manganese Glasgow: Cathouse, Sun 28 Nov.

Quality, ladies and gentlemen. That is what we have here. Manganese's headline slot on the closing night of the New Music In Scotland Live mini- fest showcases a set of impressively slick, grown-up rock songs.

The band may be graduates of the t-shirts 'n' mumbling school of onstage charisma, but they have other other strings to their bows. The singer has an exceptional voice, a rare enough commodity in the higher echelons of the industry; his falsetto highs and growly lows recall the acrobatic feats of Vedder, Corgan and Cobain. He’s backed by a bassist and guitarist who share that obsessive precision born of an adolescence misspent practising in garages. Not that much originality, then, and not much glitz; but quality.

(Hannah McGill)

2-16 Dec 1999 THE LIST 43