SINGER, SONGWRITER, SURVIVOR BOB DYLAN Braehead Arena, Sat 8 & Sun 9 Oct
Rock stars, like canines, maintain strange relationships with the tally of the passing years. The job is viable till the moment the performer hits 60, at which point the shade of pensioner- hood lowers like showers on a Bank Holiday weekend. We’re currently slap-bang in an age when rock’s founding fathers – McCartney, Daltrey, Jagger, Bowie – are finding their hitherto ageless glory sniggered at by the Grim Reaper and his armoury of hair dyes, pacemakers and tummy girdles.
Perversely, though, in rock, 70 is becoming the new 50; it’s assuming the ring of a manly and defiant score, a Clint Eastwood and Willy Nelsonish, grizzled but lean kind of age. And it’s the age at which Bob Dylan finds himself, as he comes out of several years’ intensive revaluation and accolade-receipt. How the times are, well . . . changing. Ten years ago (and for several decades prior) Dylan was a disgruntled, no-eye-contact nutter, an auto-vandal and entertainer as reliable as a chocolate stopwatch.
Suddenly, though, he’s a survivor with a mission, a hotline to the deep, forgotten pasts of American popular music. He’s both, of course; he contains multitudes. Which you’ll no doubt discover if you board the ramshackle switchback of Dylan’s live show, stopping for two nights at Braehead Arena, a pleasant change from the echoing caverns of his usual SECC. At times these shows will have the air of seances, as Dylan concentrates heroically to contact the eternal, elemental soul of the song. At others they’ll resemble autopsies, as the tune- free and tortured cadavers of his repertoire pile up around him. Whatever you get, you can be certain you’ve looked the essence of legend in the whites of its eyes. He was so much older then; he’s younger than that now. (Allan Brown)
EASTERHOUSE MUSIC WEEKEND EASTERN PROMISE Platform at The Bridge, Easterhouse, Glasgow, Fri 30 Sep & Sat 1 Oct INDIE-ROCK WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Thu 6 Oct
The second Eastern Promise builds on the good work of last year’s festival by bringing an admirably eclectic bill of Scottish and international acts to Easterhouse. Underground pop legends The Pastels play their first show in a year, and the weekend is reminiscent of their fondly remembered Geographic events at the Triptych Festival. Berlin electronica heroes and Pastels remixers To Rococo Rot headline on
Sunday, showcasing last year’s Speculation. Their drummer Ronald Lippok appears with his own project, Tarwater, the previous night. Latest album Inside The Ships swaps plangent post-rock for pulsing synths and Euro-jazz oddness: an intriguing prospect live. Other highlights include the lambent electronic pop of Conquering Animal Sound, Edinburgh synth boffins 7VWWVW, the floating sounds of multi- instrumentalist Silje Nes (pictured) and Leaf Label chanteuse Nancy Elizabeth. The flaming curveball, however, comes from Scandinavian free jazz berzerkers The Thing. The trio of Mats Gustafsson (sax), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) use alternative rock songs as basis for improvisation, so listen for scraps of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lightning Bolt mangled into ecstatic new shapes. Just as willing to collaborate with rock and noise acts as jazz and improv groups; the result is some of the most exciting post-genre music around, where the freakouts are balanced with a mastery of space. (Stewart Smith) ■ There will be an Independent Record Fair on Saturday.
76 THE LIST 22 Sep–20 Oct 2011
‘It sounded like a bad demo,’ grumbles We Were Promised Jetpacks singer Adam Thompson of his band’s 2009 debut, These Four Walls. The 40,000 people worldwide that bought a copy would presumably disagree, but they’ll be cheered to hear its follow-up In The Pit of The Stomach [see review, page 78] – a meatier, more authoritative realisation of their heart-on-sleeve brand of charging indie-rock – marks a big step on for the Edinburgh quartet. Even Thompson approves, characterising it as: ‘ten tracks, no frills, no bullshit.’ Where their first album was hastily recorded live, this one was multi-tracked
meticulously at a studio near Reykjavik owned by Sigur Rós – formerly of WWPJ’s label FatCat. ‘It was a really small place and we were in the studio for 12 hours a day,’ explains Thompson. ‘We started to lose our minds a wee bit but we got there in the end.’WWPJ were signed thanks to friends and ex labelmates Frightened Rabbit, now on major label Atlantic – a move that was ‘disappointing’ for FatCat but right for the band, according to Thompson: ‘They’ve never really hidden their intentions to progress and become bigger,’ he says. Judging by their anthemic songs and breathless live shows, WWPJ hardly lack ambition themselves – do they hope to follow a similar path? ‘If a nice big label comes up saying the right things then yes, but we’re not looking. I take every little thing one thing at a time, and the next one’s the album.’ (Malcolm Jack)