And so it came to pass – another Filthy Tongues gig at ABC2, after last year’s one around the release of current album Jacob’s Ladder.
Support act The Kidney Flowers gave us 8 or 9 songs of rockin’, punky action. A three-piece with vocals/guitar, bass and drums, they made an impressive racket in front of a not that full venue at “audience maybe still in the pub” time of 7.45pm. The sound was heavy on the bass, throbbing even, and some great attacking guitar, steady straight down the line drumming. There were traces of The Ramones, Damned and others from that era while the songs echoed current concerns like the dearth of free public toilets in Glasgow (“pay for a pee”).
‘Spanish Sails’ went down well, the singer gave a shoutout to him mum and they played a song about throat cancer plus a new song which they did not (despite the onstage bet) mess up. A cover of Iggy’s ‘Search and Destroy’ sounded great although according to the band they had learned “the wrong chords” – oh well. Overall this lot were righteously angry, in tune, abrasive and thoroughly entertaining, although a stock of jokes to tell during between song tuning would be a bonus. Great stuff!
There was quite a lengthy pause (and it did fill up quite a bit more) before the Filthies came on around 9pm. The three core members (singer/guitarist Martin, bassist Fin and drummer Derek were complemented by “new boy” Alec on backing guitar and keyboards, plus live electric violin from live regular Susanna and percussion/additional drumming from (also live regular) Assim. And what a sound they made, the overall effect was immense although they took a couple of songs to get into their stride.
The tracks played mainly (and quite rightly) showcased their “concept album about Edinburgh in the 1600s” – ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ plus some Mackenzies (the three core FT members were all members of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, ask your gran) tracks, including not often played ones, and a couple of covers as well.
They start with the huge ‘Children of the Filthy’ and the interplay of the electric violin with the guitars adds a lot to this. Martin’s vocals are strong (although the mike gave problems initially, he rode that out!) and they go from that to the album title track. Bathgate’s answer to Johnny Cash (sorry, well the all-black look…) belts the words out like a preacher – “from the top of the hill”, “for 400 years” and the two drummer lineup really comes into its own. This is truly epic and shudders through the gears, the band now properly warmed up for further action. Next up is an old Mackenzie tune ‘Sick Baby”‘, followed by ‘Kingdom of Ice’ the JL album. ‘Long Time Dead’ again from JL channels more Edinburgh vibes although it is more of a warning against the dangers of substance abuse – too late for this audience!
‘Crewcut’ gets an outing tonight, with lots of yelling (from BM included) – one of their best cuts and back a few years ago it was an indication there was life in these old dogs yet…(sorry!) – well it was!
The next couple of songs are an unexpected brace of ‘Green Turn Red’ (more yelling, ‘Digging a Hole for You’) and ‘Generous Thing’, which certainly takes BM back a few decades, both evergreen tracks.
Then we are back to JL tracks ‘High’ and “current single”, whatever that means now (great video) ‘Holy Brothers’ which is in itself a bit of a trawl through past glories and misdemeanours… Martin introduces the band, and a couple of hecklers get put in their place during a tuning pause – “do you wanna try doing this?”
We then get Brel cover ‘Port of Amsterdam’, first section sung mainly by the audience, BM did not realise there were so many sailors in…
Then we get Mackenzies classic ‘Goodwill City’, truly scabrous and the best song about Edinburgh ever penned in BM’s opinion. Shoodda been on Trainspotting soundtrack or at the very least on T2, Danny and Irvine missed their mark there but never mind…
The encore begins with JL’s darkest and most surreal track, ‘Bowhead Saint’ – Metcalfe is in truly insane form here, shades finally off and gesticulating wildly as he tells the tale of an obscene and supernatural character who inhabits Edinburgh’s murkiest closes and lanes in the 1600s – BM actually may have met this guy last week, bloody Tinder, honestly…
Last but not least is modern Scottish pop classic, the Mackenzies’ ‘The Rattler’, now with violin rather than synths it sounds more of a folk song, as maybe it always was, the twangy guitar still present along with the pumping drums n bass. As the chorus declaims “I can take you all the way” and The Filthies certainly did that tonight, and then some.