Link to home page

The Vaselines

Glasgow School of Art (Friday 28th November)

By • Dec 5th, 2014 • Category: gig reviews

Hauling my fat arse up the hill to the School of Art tonight I remembered my most memorable shindig at this Glasgow institution. I was in fact promoter of one of them disco things and the tomfoolery got off on a splendid footing when upon switching on the hired in – and possibly slightly too enormo – sound system, one of the premise’s windows promptly fell out into the street. Rock and roll stuff, I thought. “What the fuck are you doing to my building?”, thought the manager. However, a great evening was had by all. Even though we lost all our money and ended up being chased around Glasgow by the rozzers having accidentally run off with all the night’s cash. Minimal though it was. Happy days and the main room upstairs and the Vic Bar down below have born witness to some seminal behaviour over the years.

No sign of grand larceny on the faces of the frosty punters tonight. Just slightly pinched and hoppy excitement. Here to see Kurt Cobain’s favourite songwriters in action. Hopefully they will decorate the stage with glee and craft and not take a leaf from our short lived production company’s handbook and splatter the place with broken glass. Add in a bit of bloody flesh and you have the Nirvana frontman’s preferred method of sprucing up his conservatory. Probably not the sort of celebration even he would want though.

And there we have it. Couldn’t even make it beyond paragraph three without an appearance by Mr C [not that one]. How Mr and Mrs Vaseline must love him looming in from the afterlife in most every article about them. Still, as one half of the core duo, Frances McKee, says, his patronage (of sorts) bought her a house without her needing to get a proper job so quit your moaning.

Skipping back into the venue it’s pretty apparent that art studentz never change. Not yet anyway. I may not have been here for 4367 years but the arch-fringed, intriguingly poised and yet pissed up Friday night, cheap booze extravaganza is still intact. Albeit the putative sculptors of tomorrow seem to have brought their parents along too. Or at least the dodgy uncle wearing black Levis and Chelsea boots way beyond it’s socially acceptable *cough*.

Coffin dodging, or not, we swiftly negotiate the decent if not exactly thrill-riot support, Schwervon, and are on to the headline.

Much to my surprise, I liked them! Considering they launched forth from the catalogue of indie chancers moping around street corners in Glasgow in the mid 80s they have a fucktonne of talent to differentiate them from some of the dross therein.

They’re a five piece tonight and we get ninety minutes of jangly pop. That phrase – the jangly thing – should send a shudder through your brain and soul. Glasgow specialised in Byrds influenced mediocrity at the time they came to fruition. But this has that vibe and something more. I was sceptical but the beautiful beautiful melodies and harmonious boy girl vocals conjured up tonight are pushed forward by a growling power. They have the ability to lob out simple yet gorgeous tuneage with a classic three guitar, one bass, drums, line up. But they have something else. I dunno if it’s the occasionally pointed vocal edge or the fleeting undercurrent of welcome shadiness to undermine things when it gets too jolly. It certainly isn’t the pish patter but we can forgive them for that. It is a homecoming gig and the end of the tour. Though according to Frances, contrary to rumour, touring is piss-easy. Most of the time spent lying about the bus watching Game of Thrones. Both her and Eugene – and the other three members – are a jovial presence. In fact they seemed very happy to be here. I did feel for them a little as from the point of view of my lurking-perch it really did not look a sold out gig. Apparently it was though. Curse obedience to fire regulations. Bring on the sweaty dice with death and half hour wait for a slash.

This was refined, yet driving, guitar pop. The melodies are gorgeous. The crowd may be quite sedate but, ya know, that seemed kind of fitting. T’was an entirely amiable affair. Ninety minutes or so negotiating the relatively restrained back catalogue – even allowing for the odd hiatus or two over the years they’ve not got a huge volume to pick from.

‘Molly’s Lips’ was a highlight, as was ‘Such a Fool’. So much more impressive live than on record. Live, you can see why Sub Pop (et al) would be interested in them. They have a melancholy and drive on stage beyond some of the drippier aspects of bands originating in that era. I’d not hold my breath for a drug-fuelled reinvention as dubious techno enthusiasts a la Primal Scream but they have a difficult to define edge that makes one’s ears prick up. Pick the wrong song if you walked in briefly tonight and you’d see a middle aged couple with their kids or nephews on stage delivering perfectly pleasant but… well, just perfectly pleasant… guitary stuff. Stick around for a few more and you start to suspect David Lynch might have produced the odd b-side. An entirely welcome brooding.

I went off her at some point ’cause she slagged off Beyonce for some reason. Not even a particular fan of Bouncy but it seemed a little uninterestingly catty. I’ve no idea why. In fact I may have imagined it – was kinda distracted by attempting to write in the dark then realising that I seemed to be Memento-style scribbling on my hand.

The Vaselines are a great band. They do nothing hugely new and yet they piss all over Glasgow’s sometimes overly-lauded scene. By delivering power, jollity, a touch of pretence and simplicity. And a slight suggestion they may interfere with the dog on the way out. A rare little alchemy there. They’re never going to be the Pistols at the Free Trade Hall but then again – half the audience tonight could quite easily have come from ’66 never mind ’76.

I didn’t particularly want to like these dudes and dudettes. Apparently I did. Nice one.

Comments are closed.