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Field Music

Celtic Connections @ Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery (Saturday 1st February 2020)

By • Feb 8th, 2020 • Category: Gig review

If the thought of a concept album is a scary prospect for you, think how Peter Brewis feels.

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Describing the forthcoming 40-odd minutes as “terrifying”, he’s probably referring to the fact that they are going to play all of ‘Making A New World’ in its entirety, its 19 tracks back-to-back, in front of a seated audience in the auspicious but apt setting of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum.

However, the precision of delivery required aside (tying in with visuals for each song) the brothers Brewis need have no fears. As they will find it’s an appreciative audience, a broadly 30-something set of fans who may well have discovered the combo via 6music or their ilk – and who may have also discovered new favourites in support act Tenement and Temple, whose version of ‘Blue Moon’ reverberates around the nooks and crannies of the 120-year-old building.

However, Field Music’s ‘Making A New World’ isn’t really a concept album in the expected sense – as anyone who’s heard ‘Money Is A Memory’ will attest. The combo’s knack for off-kilter pop is as well-known as their penchant for over-long meandering tunes about wizards and dragons isn’t.

Situated in front of a massive screen, the set, and its accompanying ‘narration’, details in the main the post-WWI ‘benefits’ – how submarine detection led to ultrasound pregnancy scans, the RAF giving us air traffic control, and military bandages evolving into sanitary towels.

These are delivered with musical expertise, the five members focused on treating their serious subject matter just right, and they do so with great success, the six on-screen ‘threads’ – which vibrate like guitar strings – taking us from song to song, and from the war’s start to, pretty much, the present day.

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And that leads us to the end of a show which, although focused on its commemorative intention, is still a fine collection of alt.pop gems, which the audience thoroughly appreciates, earning the band at least a couple of minutes applause.

With their mission accomplished, the band become less terrified and are able to relax as the promised mini-set of “normal” songs can begin. “Shall we play one everyone knows the words to?” the band ponder. “Layla?”

Although we have to wait for one fan, who may have been poised since the final chord of closer ‘An Independent State’, to sashay his way to the exit. “Dancing, or bathroom?” enquires David Brewis. “Both,” flashes back the weak-bladdered punter.

Of course, we’re never far from a themed piece with this band – David Brewis has form in this area, his ’45’ a concept album based around the visit of Donald Trump’s UK visit, and despite starting the evening on on drums, he takes centre stage in best indie pop fashion for a track from his solo release after swapping places with his sibling.

An excellent evening’s entertainment rounds off with what pass for ‘greatest hits’ in the Field Music canon – including the catchy ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’, and ‘Disappointed’ with its sightly unnerving video projected large above the band, before the brothers Brewis bade us farewell.

They do say that every day is a school day, and this night in the museum showed us that a field (music) trip can be educational, as well as a whole lot of fun.

Field Music / Tenement & Temple

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