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Port Sulphur / Gareth Sager and the Hungry Ghosts

Celtic Connections @ Glasgow CCA (Friday 1st February 2019)

By • Feb 8th, 2019 • Category: gig reviews

It’s billed as a celebration – of 25 years of one of Glasgow’s most enduring record labels – but there’s time for reflection too. Thus, the faces of Edinburgh poet Jock Scot, and Suicide’s Alan Vega loom high above the crowd at the CCA – the cult performers figuring on the work of both label and the imprint’s ‘house band’, Port Sulphur.

Drawn from the various acts who have contributed to ‘Bentism’ over the past quarter-century, it’s no hyperbole to describe the ensemble that take the stage as a supergroup.

The Bluebells’ Ken McCluskey is prominent stage front, though mainly on megaphoned vocals, providing backing to Secret Goldfish frontwoman Katy Lironi on opener ‘Fast Boys and Factory Girls’, which unexpectedly and seamlessly segues into Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’.

Similarly, the Goldfish’s ‘Pink Drone’ draws from ‘Going to A Go-go’ as well as, possibly, the percussive thud of Mike Leander, as the past is trawled and the band play homage to legendary Edinburgh nightclub Valentino’s for the title track of their new album.

More Scots pop royalty follows – Orange Juice guitarist and vocalist James Kirk contributes three tunes, while former Fire Engine Davy Henderson joins Sexual Objects cohort Simon Smeeton for an energetic version of ‘The Lane’, another track from Port Sulphur’s fine debut long-player ‘Paranoic Critical’.

Then, it seems, most of the indie popsters of the past 20 years arrive on stage for an enjoyably chaotic take on ‘Here Come The Rubber Cops’.

Also making their live debut tonight are Gareth Sager and The Hungry Ghosts, though the former Pop Group man is no stranger to the stage – confidently delivering a mix of punk and funk, ably backed by secondary guitar, and a towering bassist delivering crisp, rhythmic licks.

Providing percussion is Sexual Objects drummer Ian Holford, who also sings as Sager shreds – the Rip Rig and Panic mainman fully living up to his reputation as one of the most innovative (and underrated) guitarists to emerge from that whole post-punk movement.

Eventually, Davy Henderson takes the stage again, inexplicably clad in a ‘Community Payback’ hi-vis… I say “inexplicably”; it is Davy Henderson, who also shares the information that Patti Smith advised him to shave his nipples before the show….

‘Johnny Bristol Flu’, originally from Sager’s Creeping Bent debut, follows, with Henderson in full force croon, and the singer returns with just about everyone else for a 28 string encore of NN9 classic ‘Port of Mars’. Which seems like an apt way to celebrate – here’s to the next 25 years.

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