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The Filthy Tongues / The Courtesans / The Joyce Sisters

Glasgow Afro-Carribean Centre (Saturday 1st November)

By • Nov 21st, 2014 • Category: gig reviews

Originally to be in River (FKA Barfly), this show was shifted to the ACC, just beside 13th Note and overlooking the St Enoch’s carpark, an aesthetic desert which many years ago used to be a major railway station… don’t get Betty started on old trains, they really turn her on, all that steam (and diesels as well, OMFG), grease, horny handed men of toil oh dear, folks…you had me at “St Enochs” but that’s not for tonight, or maybe it is…read on…)

The undercurrent of tonight, it would have to be said, was open sexual expression, whether it be in the now legendarily OTT Day of the Dead costumes of main support band Courtesans, or the darkly noir stylings and recriminations of Filthy Tongues, somewhat longer in the tooth but still seething with the hunger.

The venue must hold around 250-300 and was quite busy, certainly by the time Courtesans came on around, perhaps 9pm or so. First support band The Joyce Sisters were, like many of the audience, in somewhat Halloween-themed attire, and played a selection of macabre-themed covers (‘Stay’ by Shakespeare’s Sister was very good indeed) and a couple of their own, watch out for them, if they persevere they could be pretty good, need to get plugged in though girls, is BM’s advice, your chops deserve some amplification so good luck with that, no really.

Courtesans, well BM had heard the name and knew the FT’s would not select a crap support but heavens to Betsy, did not expect this assault on all senses. When they arrive on the stage it was immediately apparent that the Day of the Dead thing had been taken to some new areas, the upside down crosses tit tape on the bare breasts of bass player Agnes being a particular talking point. All Betty can say is Go Girl, it looked arresting, not sleazy, just fitted the occasion but some of the audience really did not know where to look. Well done!

The rest of the all-female ensemble, based in London and enjoying their second Glasgow gig (previous night they headlined at Audio and lead singer Sinead faked slitting her throat, just for Nov 31st, very Alice Cooper it must’ve been) were attired in also very OTT outfits, mixture of Club Noir meets Night of the Living Dead – totally up BM’s street, loved it.

And did all this detract from the music, well no, it probably emphasised it, these women are absolutely one of the tightest and most original combos on the circuit, no kidding. Sound was pitch perfect in a not very easy venue to get it right; guitars very Gothic, channeling The Stooges and Sisters of Mercy. The bass was solid and completely on the button, Kim Gordon-esque via Tina Weymouth, yes really. Drums were spot on and the vocals, well, recalling Courtney Love and every other rebel sister who’s ever threatened and confronted an audience with female issues, including sexuality. Sinead threatened to remove her top around halfway through the set, noting that venue management advised her not to do it, then she did it anyway, revealing similar upside down crosses tit tape – fantastic, again not a strip show, not even getting them out for the boys, just going for it really, and it felt liberating. BM has in her past career got them out on a regular basis, retired from all that now but in context it is just what you do in a sympathetic environment, it is art (oh shit, pseuds corner incoming but would defend that comment so bring it on).

The set was longer than advertised and BM thinks it was because FT gave them more time as they were so good. BM also recalled Strawberry Switchblade, Siouxsie of course and even Amanda Palmer, who would definitely have approved of these proceedings (and is BM discovery of the year, only several years after the last and incredible album ‘Theatre is Dead’, may have to start a one-woman campaign to bring her back to Glasgow, 2015 ambition, think so, but I digress).

So respect due to Courtesans for now legendary Glasgow weekender events, understand that first album is on its way, girls, do it your way.

So to the headliners tonight.

The Filthy Tongues are still going strong after a previous incarnation as “Isa and the FTs”, mainly a vehicle for ex Goodbye Mr Mackenzie personnel, some MIA but comprising original core of Martin M (geetar and vocals), Finn Wilson and Derek Kelly, both reprising roles as a lithe and adaptable rhythm section.

BM has had previous with Martin (see previous “Ten With Betty“) and BM is a long time fan, we are talking 28 years and counting, not that Betty is stalking you Martin et al, you should be so lucky (as the song went at the time)). (double brackets there, sorry for breaking journalistic code there but BM is a rank but enthusiastic amateur).

Toileting arrangements in this venue were interesting and many new and intimate friends were made, that’s all BM is saying…

MM’s onstage look was akin to ‘Unabomber’-era Mark E Everett – very stylish suit as well, shades and beard combo, well you had Betty there and then…

It was extremely wonderful to hear updated GMM versions of ‘Jezabel’, ‘Hard’ and ‘Blacker Than Black’. More recent era new tracks were also really good, BM can’t quite name them but think that ‘Lethe Walks’ was among them.

The real icing on the cake for BM was set closer ‘Goodwill City’ (you heard my screams Martin, perhaps, they were quite loud…) – this may have been the Scotch single of 1986 (such a thing did not exist at the time) and is a scabarous comment on Auld Reekie in the 80s. Betty was not part of that, but was around there at the time, and remembers the AIDS Ice posters, oh very nice and educational, “Don’t Die of Ignorance”. Things were very different then, Scotchland just having come out of a terminal and doomladen struggle between the last (oh fuck, forget it) of the old and the crush of the new (miners’ strike, and oil industry referenced in this track), Malcolm Rifkind does not get a name-check in this wonderful song but probably should have, cheers The Riff…

It is a good song, channels Bowie and Iggy via Marc Bolan to say something previously taboo about Festival City, with Nick Cave-esque (and Cave was a bit dodgy that year anyway) portensions of doom. It was the 80s apocalypse, with Shirley Manson on backing vocals, and it was, and still, is, as they play it tonight, for BM’s money, their best song.

BM would have to say that the sound mix in this untested venue was nothing short of superb, the twanginess of MM’s geetar and the other instruments sounded well good.

The set finished abruptly and many of us were left wanting a lot more, MM’s comments about possible crowdfunded “Classic Album” tour with possible agreement from Big John (at least) and other more high-profile former members are very interesting… well let us see in 2015, but for the moment, The Filthy Tongues (what a name, girls), certainly floated BM’s boat, and then some.

Respect to band, promoters, supports and venue, a helluva night.

8 Responses »

  1. Wicked review! Cheers BM <3
    The Filthy Tongues / The Courtesans / The Joyce Sisters –

  2. RT @HarlotPromos: Betty Mayonnaise- @the_courtesans “Discovery of the year, one of the tightest & most original combos on the circuit” http…

  3. RT @the_courtesans: Wicked review! Cheers BM <3
    The Filthy Tongues / The Courtesans / The Joyce Sisters –

  4. Fantastic review for some friends. I love it when those I know are given kudos for their hard work (paragraph 6 & 7):

  5. RT @HarlotPromos: Betty Mayonnaise- @the_courtesans “Discovery of the year, one of the tightest & most original combos on the circuit” http…

  6. Great review of Filthy Tongues recent Glasgow gig in @isthismusic … Great review of @the_courtesans as well.

  7. RT @filthytongues: Great review of Filthy Tongues recent Glasgow gig in @isthismusic … Great review of @the_courtesans as well. http://t.…

  8. RT @m51dotcom: Live review – The Filthy Tongues / The Courtesans / The Joyce Sisters