It’s a pretty-much packed crowd at Edinburgh’s Bongo Club, who leave with a glow which will last for some time to come.
First up are Glasgow’s Foxgang who have an excellent take on post-punk that already sounds uniquely their own. ‘Easyjet’ in particular sounds like The Fall meets Franz Ferdinand (with additional help from the Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ horn-section when you check it out on their myspace). This being Edinburgh, most of the crowd are too self-conscious to dance, but they win the crowd over, leaving me and many others wanting more.
Haight-Ashbury I first saw supporting The Waterboys three years ago. I thought they were great then – and I think they’re fantastic now. Though the name and part of the the sound nod to 60s San Francisco, there’s an appealing darkness here that also owes much to the proto-punk of the Stooges and The Velvet Underground. Recent single ‘Freeman Town’ encapsulates much of what they’re about: three people making a sound that sounds like there’s way more involved, great harmonies from the girls Jennifer and Kirsty Heather and awesome guitar work from Scott James.
This is the opening night of The Vaselines’ tour and the crowd are clearly delighted to see them. Some people probably did see them twenty years ago, but then there’s others a good decade younger than me. They open with ‘Oliver Twisted’ and then tear straight into ‘Molly’s Lips.’ It’s great stuff.
New album Sex With An X has generated some good reviews as you would expect, and it’ll be interesting to see whether there’ll be more of it included earlier on in the set on future dates on this tour. The likes of ‘The Devil’s Inside Me’, the album’s title track and ‘I Hate the 80s’ are all interspersed with the songs from the back catalogue. I genuinely think that even in self-conscious Edinburgh the crowd might even start dancing if there was room to do so…
The day following the gig would will see Edinburgh visited by the Pope, and while Eugene and Frances don’t comment on this, it’s clear that sex and religion still occupy an important part in the Vaselines’ mindset, quite often in the same song, though in a rather different way from how Prince used to approach it circa Lovesexy. “God’s coming to strike us down” remarks Eugene before they tear into ‘Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam’*
It’s a show for happy fans, and I can only begin to imagine just how good things will be by the time they reach Glasgow on the tour. Whilst the album features Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian, they are joined by two “Vaselines virgins” as Frances McKee refers to them as, Gareth on bass and Paul on guitar (no surnames apparently). There’s the right balance between the shambling sound of the records and being as tight as live band, and they’re even more powerful than when they supported Mudhoney last year.
Just as the Wedding Present still refuse to play encores, so the Vaselines cheerily mock it by pretending to disappear off stage but they’re straight on, and the version of ‘You Think You’re A Man’ rules, as ever. Great to have them with us again.