This was quite some event – the launch of a full album by the Filthy Tongues was a much-awaited and long-overdue event for BM and quite a few others.
Firstly, The Media Whores have been plying their trade for quite some time, Edinburgh-originated, they make a pretty good racket for an approximately half full ABC2 (Neil Young 70th birthday tribute is upstairs…). They have some “political” themes and seem quite angry but BM is not too sure where they fit into the world of 2016 gig or record-wise, if they enjoy it then let the band play on though…
And then the Filthies… Previously reviewed by BM (the notorious Halloween 2014 gig, to be found on ITM still I think, the upside down duct-tape crosses are still burned on the memory…), this dark and dangerous combo comprises the ashes of nearly-was East Coast contenders Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (ask your gran). Lead singer and chief songwriter Martin Metcalfe looks like Nick Cave’s long lost Auld Reekie brother, replete with a Wiseblood-esque Big Black Hat.
This was ostensibly an album launch for the stormingly good “debut” album, after various efforts with Isa blew over a few years ago. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ must surely be a contender for Scottish Album of the Year or the bloomin’ Mercury even, get voting people – it has been stormingly reviewed by the brilliantly erudite Roy Moller elsewhere on this site. The cover art is also wonderful for its depiction of Reekie as an elegant exterior hiding a dark and sleazy interior, just like BM really…
The set tonight was the bulk of said album, scattered with several ace covers and a brace of Mackenzies classics, enough to get this now quite near capacity audience foaming at the mouth, in some cases quite literally.
Metcalfe’s exploration of the Reekie underworld, somewhere between the gutter and the stars and the off-licence, is macabre, biblical and downright satanic at times. Mentions of Antabuse (a first in a “pop” song BM thinks), Delilah’s immaculate head (missus) and recalled slices of pure 80s hedonism give you some idea but that’s only the first impression. These songs have depth and the dead hand of life experience, mordantly funny at times but also Blacker than Black, as they would have it. With able support from original McK’s bass and drums (Shirley unavailable but where is Big John, BM hears you ask, well that is a whole different story folks..) and able new keyboard player, they blasted through with few words in between.
The new material culminated in ‘Bowhead Saint’, real scary stuff, and ‘Children of the Filthy’ (“all the broken children”), a truly chilling post-Trainspotting love letter to ruined and battered lives, Edinburgh City Council Social Work dept eat your bleeding hearts out… And ‘Holy Brothers’, a Dylan-esque rumination on the bacchanalia of some long lost McK’s European tour BM think – what maybe should have stayed in the bus, messy but curiously wistful, the hedonism of youth…
The covers, a furious ‘Sick Of You’ (Stooges) and of course, as the ghost of Bowie loomed large from the start over this gig, a magnificent ‘Port of Amsterdam’, Metcalfe screaming the words out to the audience, and us screaming them back. Brel via Bowie via FTs, out of this world.
Metcalfe, cast as the apostate heretic, finally took hat and shades off and revealed himself. He was always such a beautiful boy but he surely won’t mind BM saying that he now does look his age, no Dorian Gray act here. He revealed guitar prowess tonight which might well have put him upstairs blistering through ‘Hurricane’ (did anyone attempt it, BM knows that certain people mucked up the timing and running order, Ms Reader we are pointing at you dear…). Also BM has never heard MM singing as well as tonight, along with a perfect sound-mix..
The old material comprised a stunning ‘Blacker than Black’ along with an Isa-era hysterical rendition of ‘Mummy Can’t Drive’ – then during the encores the big one for BM, ‘Goodwill City’, a paean to ’80s Edinburgh (again) and the virus which ripped through so many people’s live so quickly, words fail.
And the unexpected last encore of ‘The Rattler’, the single released to death by the record company at the time until it finally broke the top 40, a swaggering Begbie-esque twang of political incorrectness, surely this has to feature in ‘TS2’, come on Mr Boyle… Emotional and brutal without being a pure nostalgia trip, this still has relevance and resonance in 2016.
Gig of the year, certainly so far…by some distance, BM salutes the FTs.