After several well-received gigs across Scotland, Celtic Connections signed up Band A to bring their interpretation of The Associates’ 40 year old debut album to a bigger venue.
‘The Affectionate Punch’ as an album is an overlooked classic, the band reaching into themselves to give us a mutant melding of pop, funk, cabaret and some unknown alchemy ingredient which no one can put their finger on… Not as popular as third album ‘Sulk’ it nonetheless set the blueprint for that album, ie we will do our way…
Band A do not aim to be an actual tribute act, they simply play the songs as their own versions, so much of the instrumentation is different, however they clearly love the album, are consummate players and add their own DNA to the versions they play tonight.
Oran Mor is pretty full and yes there are some members of Billy Mackenzie’s family and friends, former associates if you will, as the combo launch into Bill and Alan’s first single, a cover of Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, loud and proud, and from then on BM knew this would be a great night (she had heard of this lot by reputation and knew they had the blessing of Mackenzie’s nearest and dearest).
Lead singer Audrey Redpath does not attempt to ape Billy, just sing the words in tune and sometimes without the vocal hi-jinks that were on the records. She gracefully acknowledged the over-emoting sections of the crowd but kept the shit together, a true pro and probably the best representative of Billy’s work on earth in the present day.
The albums and its songs are complex and demanding for all the musicians but the full band (David Guild on chattering guitar, Brian Branford doing those crucial basslines, Mike Nolan doing a sterling job on keys and Ali Wilson battering up a racket when required on drums) do these weird and quirky songs full justice, sometimes emphasising their own arrangements (‘Even Dogs in the Wild’ got a full jazz treatment and was all the better for it) and sometimes just locking into the groove required for Redpath to emote the lyrics over.
The result was quite incredible and fully immersed BM in said album, right down to the last, ridiculous song ‘A’. The band did not stop there however and also gave us ‘Tell Me Easter’s On Friday’ followed by the song that most outsiders may know (‘Party Fears Two’ of course before a brooding version of ‘Twins of Gemini’ closed the set.
This show was true class, incredible musicians paying off a debt to other incredible musicians, some of whom are no longer with us. BM just hopes that Alan Rankine likes these versions and also thinks that albums two and three deserve the same treatment.
Well played to Band A, BM does not normally go for covers acts but this was truly something else…