Celtic Connections has arrived (distant sound of cheering, people tripping over their kilts and brandishing shortbread etc).
Although this gig is in the programme it may be a fairly tenuous connection, but WTF, a gig by Ette will always be welcome, and especially in darkest January. This band may have been started “by accident” as a side project of Carla Easton (Teen Canteen) and Joe Kane (Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab and others too many to mention), but do not underestimate the impact that debut album “‘Homemade Lemonade’ has had. It was no 4 in Bandcamp’s best of 2016, no 20 in Jockrock’s, and given the opposition Ette were up against, that is pretty darn good!
Tonight Betty arrived feeling a bit queasy. Some late “work” had come up, maybe connected to a local offshoot of US inauguration ceremony celebrations, let’s just say that a full outfit reboot was required, but in January money is too tight to mention. Had to knuckle down and get those swimming goggles on, for a shower of whatever you want to call it, euch!
So as a result both support bands were missed by BM, therefore apologies for no mentions or opinions on either. BM is sure The Herald and the rest of the world’s press will fill in the curious as part of their comprehensive coverage of the arts in Scotland – NOT! (£1.30 per copy, lucky if there is one interesting gig review per month, complete joke, not the journalists’ fault but…).
Broadcast, for those who don’t know, is a cellar venue below the main bar on the Sauchiehall St main drag where hipsters and jaikies mix in happy harmony, along with random members of the public and works nights out – always a joy.
When BM tottered in (8 inch heels only tonight) shortly before the band launched into the opener from said debut album. ‘Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Pts 1 and 2)’ is a pure stonker – an absolute rib-tickler and a bit of a knee-trembler of a song built on a simple chord-shuffle and Carla’s infectious vocals. As well as Joe brandishing almighty lead guitar and Carla on piano/syths/lead locals, the rest of the band are assembled from Teen Canteen (Debs -vocals and I-Pad), (Chloe -vocals and great dancing), also from Boohoohoo (Greg on keyboards), The Needles (drums) and an incredibly funky bass guitarist (oh can’t member what band he is from but watch out and oh, the eye glitter, you tease!). Altogether they make an almighty racket and the song is a chattering distant cousin of something off the Arcade Fire album ‘Funeral’ (don’t argue, just take it as an almighty compliment!).
The audience is a wee bit static, maybe the Celtic Connections factor, although some at the front are bobbing about – BM felt she would be a bit obtrusive barging in from the back and towering over people, so lurked at the back for most of the gig. The soundmix was not bad and BM is assured by the lead singer that the PA system is “one of the best in Glasgow” so the band were certainly playing to their strengths. “Ette” the name, Carla tells the audience, is a tribute to all the female bands she has enjoyed over the years, and this lot are certainly playing with a girl band vibe, albeit more of a wall of sound that Teen Canteen’s own unique take on music in this new era, 2017 just beginning to break bad…
We got other highlights from the album (may not be recalling them in quite the correct order) – Carla belting out the ‘I Hate You Song’ is quite scary, BM’s advice is do not get on the wrong side of this woman, woe betide!
‘Bonfire’ is without the added toasting (on the record, not in the kitchen) but is still a delight. ‘My Mother Says’ is again superb. And ‘Fireworks’, well what can BM say, just sublime but so simple and direct, everyone can relate to this, and it really a massive big ballad at heart.
And is ‘Bird in the Sky’ a song of domesticity or paranoia, maybe both, a slow burn and for BM’s ten pence maybe the best track on the album.
The band encouraged the audience first to clap, then slap thighs (Larry Grayson eat your camp-as-a-tent heart out!) and Carla burst out laughing during one vocal. Who could blame her though? This is joyous, raucous stuff, OTT instrumentation at times and Ms Easton’s constant sparkly delivery – so here comes an updated BM quoteable line… “Annie Lennox (in Tourists era) on steroids, backed by Arcade Fire on hash cookies”. And that is meant as a supreme compliment.
This band is eccentric, God knows the chord changes and instrumentation are a bit experimental, so we have a combination of weirdness and familiarity – BM temporarily lost for words until the next time.
As if to drive this home, things end with the Abba cover ‘The Visitors’, which is really one of the weirdest things those evergreen Swedes ever did and rarely gets a mention on any mass-consumption Greatest Hits. It is incredible to think their career was effectively over by 1981, just reheated “Hits” since then! The combination of minor chords, a slightly religious feel (did BM Scandi-noise goddess Fever Ray channel this, what a thought!) and the band really going for it (by Christ they did tonight, collapsing in a heap of hissing synths and blistered fingers at the end) really brought the house (well the basement) down. An epic, if short (for BM anyway) set but it will long live in the memory and just confirms the BM feeling last summer at the album launch – with no preconceptions about sound, look or anything, BM just loved this lot at first sight, and has done ever since.