This was The Filthy Tongues’ biggest Glasgow gig since… probably ever, and boy it was a stormer.
Previous venues where BM has seen them The Afro-Caribbean Centre (memorable) and ABC2 (twice) were very good indeed but the stone floor, high ceiling and good sight-lines of this former church around the corner from The Barrowlands was just perfect. BM hopes it was deconsecrated thoroughly, given the hellish subject matter of some of the material in these songs…but we will get to that!
First of all there were a couple of decent support slots, John Zip from Glasgow punk band The Zips giving us some acoustic renditions of his solo material and a few Zips ones as well, paying tribute both to Joe Strummer and the George Square riot of 1919…
Next up were Run Into The Night, a two piece female act from Glasgow who combined White Stripes-esque riffs with some full-on thrash. Christina Cassette (guitar/vocals) and Ellie May (drums) gave us some serious blues action, including a rattling Cramps cover – check them out, there is some serious talent here, and the audience were well in agreement.
Headliners The Filthy Tongues have a long history in music, which BM is not going to into in this review. Most of what they played was from the new album ‘Back To Hell’ and two year old predecessor ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ but there also a brace of covers and one or two stone classics from the 80s.
Opening number ‘Crewcut’ (aka ‘Burn You Up’) set the tone. Lead singer Martin Metcalfe’s guitar soloing was searing, more than ever before, while Fin Wilson (solid bass, as ever, possibly the best in Scotland), and Derek Kelly (solid drums, again possibly the best in Scotland) provided the backline. They were joined by Filthy regulars Asim on percussion, Alex on keyboards and additional guitar and, emerging onstage after the first couple of songs, Susannah on the fiddle.
The songs came thick and fast, the anthemic ‘Children of the Filthy’ making quite an early appearance along new song ‘Carlos The Jackal’, as disturbing and entertaining images flashed over the large screen mounted at the back of the stage. Recent single ‘Come On Home’ also got an early airing, its ghastly lollop sounding a bit like the afore-mentioned Cramps, complete with wolfish howls.
A brace of tracks from ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ – ‘High’, the title track, and ‘Bowhead Saint’ were next, played with dexterity, richness and the sheer class of a combo such as The Bad Seeds. In some ways this lot are Leith’s own Bad Seeds, a band of brothers lead by a charismatic, somewhat scary frontman, the sum of the whole being far greater than its parts. And Metcalfe’s guitar was quite astounding at times, BM is not always a fan of the big solos, but they were judiciously deployed.
The next couple of tracks were covers, their oft-played Stooges track ‘Sick Of You’ and The Shop Assistants’ ‘Somewhere in China’ (some guy called Sandy standing beside BM at this point said “I put the original song out in 1985!” – of course he might have been havering, but he put it out did, on the legendary 53rd and 3rd label…).
After the nostalgia-tinged ‘Holy Brothers’, which Martin dedicated to their late former manager Chuck, the latter part of the set comprised some more new material. The more jerky and rockabilly ‘Mother’s Got A Knife’ gave us more domestic miseries and title track ‘Back to Hell’, a swampy gumbo, has a nice singalong chorus – “I’m Going Back to Hell”…
They then opened up the archive with two Goodbye Mr Mackenzie tracks, ‘Green On Red’ (aka ‘Digging A Hole For You’) and the “Should’ve Been The Trainspotting Film Theme” ‘Goodwill City’ – and you can see that really this band’s preoccupations have not changed much since the 1980s: death, revenge, disease, Edinburgh’s two Jeykll and Hyde-sides.
The encore was another new track, ‘Who Are You?’ followed by (often set-opener) Brel cover ‘Amsterdam’. This was the longest set that BM has seen the full band version Filthy Tongues play and my god they were immense throughout. There were very few pauses in the onslaught, and the other thing to remember is there were a good few rabble-rousers, old and new, which they didn’t have time to play.
This gig seemed at times like a validation, of their talent, their longevity, their sheer don’t give a fuck-ness – and the audience’s, for that matter. Long may their filthy progress continue…