PATTI SMITH
Oran Mor, Glasgow, March 24 * * * * *

This wasn’t just a gig, it was so much more than that. For the best part of two hours Patti Smith captivated the sold-out crowd, reading excerpts from her memoir Just Kids, playing songs and generally making the kind of connection most performers can only dream of.
Effortless throughout, her performance at times felt truly magical – the audience certainly seemed spell-bound, hanging on every spoken word, every lyric.
Interspersing evocative passages from her book, including memories of moving to New York and meeting Allen Ginsberg for the first time, with songs like Dancing Barefoot and Pissing In A River, it really was a sublimely-crafted set and one which the Oran Mor audience savoured.
Tonight’s abiding memory however came during an impromptu Q&A session when one fan requested Rock N’ Roll N****r. After some brief “re-learning” Smith and her sidekick Tony Shanahan obliged with the first ever acoustic rendition of the song and in the process made many a punter’s year let alone night.

TURIN BRAKES
Classic Grand, Glasgow, March 20 * * *

Although their first two albums brought critical acclaim, a top 10 single and a Mercury Prize nomination, Turin Brakes have never quite managed to make the transition from cult band to mainstream mainstays.
Perhaps spurred on by their success writing for Take That’s Circus album, the duo, Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, certainly seem to have the radio waves in mind with new album Outbursts.
More acoustic pop than the ‘modern folk’ tag they were originally labelled with, the band, rounded out to a five-piece, put in a well-honed display which easily won over the busy crowd.
They may have sounded fairly nondescript but that didn’t stop new tracks like Mirror and Rocket Song from having the desired effect. The crowd’s reaction on the latter seemed to take Knights by surprise, an inevitable gush of superlatives followed, but for once it actually felt sincere.
Returning for a second encore, the band were joined by Mr Kil singer Joe Gallacher for a triumphant finale.

THE AUTOMATIC
King Tut’s, Glasgow, March 16 * *

After a rapid rise The Automatic find themselves in a state of decline. Once the darlings of the N.M.E, the band were, depending on your source, either dropped by their label or decided they’d been poorly promoted and quit.
So for new album, Tear The Signs Down, the Welsh quartet has opted to go it alone, releasing their third L.P on their own label Armoured Records.
A cynic might suggest it’s a move born out of the music industry’s disinterest and the band’s desperation. Whatever the reason, throughout their set it felt very much like we were watching a band who’d run out of ideas.
No matter how hard and energetically they tried, the consistently lacklustre nature of their new material made for laboured and on occasion painful listening. Tellingly after four years, even their hit Monster seemed to fall on tired ears.
Failing to sell out Tut’s, the crowd’s half-hearted reaction to all bar a couple of moments from a couple of tracks made this a night memorable for one thing – guitarist Paul Mullen’s futile attempts to sing while wearing a horse’s head mask during final song Steve McQueen.

KATE NASH
Classic Grand, Glasgow, March 6 NO STARS

When established names play more intimate venues to showcase new material you’d expect the place to be packed so it was something of a surprise to find the Classic Grand half empty for Kate Nash tonight – 90 minutes later it all became clear.
There’s a good chance after this performance that next time she visits Glasgow the crowd will be smaller still and not just because she didn’t play her biggest hit Foundations.
No the biggest problem with Nash tonight was, well Nash. When delivering her woeful lyrics she came across like a petulant teenager while her interactions with the crowd felt about as sincere as a Hallmark card.
Weirdness abounded throughout her erratic performance – playing the same song, I’ve Got A Secret, twice when once was once too many and most bizarrely reciting the kind of poem that’d make a teenager recoil with embarrassment.
Add to this new material best described as ‘suspect’, a shambolic finale and no encore and what we were left with was a disgruntled crowd only too happy to voice their displeasure.

Europe @ ABC1 28-02-10

March 5, 2010

EUROPE
ABC1, Glasgow, February 28 * * *

It’s only the godfathers of 80s hair-metal, Bon Jovi, who can still fill stadiums and shift albums. They’re certainly the only ones who sell canine fashion under the cunning guise Bone Jovi.
Fellow spandex survivors Europe’s success was more short-lived and coincided with the loss of co-founder John Norum – the synth-route to commercial success didn’t sit well with the lead guitarist and maybe still doesn’t, as tonight he cut a forlorn and at times disinterested figure.
If he had opted to join the other four in rocking out he’d still have been overshadowed by singer Joey Tempest. The 46-year old was the star of the show and on numerous occasions proved more entertaining than the music which drove his performance.
Shadow boxing around the stage, windmilling his white mic-stand and shaking hands with his followers, Tempest energetically worked the crowd like it was 1986 all over again, the year tonight’s triumphant encore, The Final Countdown, cemented the band’s place in hard rock history.

JAPANDROIDS
King Tut’s, Glasgow, February 26 * * * *

Playing the penultimate date of a six-week European tour, Vancouver duo Japandroids showed no signs of tiring tonight as they dished out a potent and highly-charged set of garage rock.
Leading the assault was singer/guitarist Brian King – a whirlwind of energy and all round unstoppable presence – who, much to the delight of the crowd, bounded about the stage like a man possessed.
Backed all the way by singer/drummer David Prowse, the duo fed off each other’s energy, spurred on by incessant rhythms and fuzzed-up helter skelter guitar.
As good as songs like Young Hearts Spark Fire, The Boys are Leaving Town and Crazy/Forever were, it was how they were delivered by the charismatic King that really made the duo’s set something to savour.
With a mischievous smile not far from his lips throughout, there was a joyful abandon to the way King dispensed his simple distortion-fueled riffs. Save for the odd spot of tuning he was a force to be reckoned with, little wonder then he looked exhausted by the end of an hour that exemplified the true spirit of garage rock.