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Billy Bragg – Leamington Spa, Assembly

Billy Bragg gigs are part-concert/part evangelical political rally and tonight the Bard of Barking is on top form, inspired by the student protests. He immediately lights a fire under our complacent middle-English arse, kicking off with two decades old songs ‘World Turned Upside Down’ and “To Have and To Have Not”.

By doing so we are vividly reminded not only that Billy knows his roots, but that once again we’re caught up in one of capitalism’s regular grand mal seizures.

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Whippet out – Marc Almond, Glasgow ABC

Did you know the Whippet goes everywhere with a bible and a gun? His argument is it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. Laudable words. He set out in the blizzards to further the 80s kick he’s been on by seeing everyone’s favourite half of Soft Cell.

Two nights in a row I’m out, and on a school night too. Marc Almond is Mrs Whippet’s best-est most-est favourite and I’m press-ganged once more into accompanying her. I have to admit I’m a novice as regards Marc Almond’s career after Soft Cell. I have a vague, distant memory of maybe seeing him at the old Glasgow Nightmoves with Lydia Lunch and Nick Cave in a kinda heroin-drenched soul revue called The Immaculate Consumptives, but it’s a long time ago and my memory ain’t what it used to be.

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The Blood Arm with the 1990s – Captain’s Rest, Glasgow

The history of popular music, as wide and varied and simply huge as it is, provides any aspiring musician with a veritable treasure trove of ideas. There’s just so many people, so many areas to study. The spark of creativity can be lit by studying what went before. However, the dangers inherent in this theory – hagiography, derivation, downright pinching – are pitfalls which many fall into when looking to find their own niché. Tonight is a textbook example of how to effectively use the past as a resource but also how to strip-mine a seam that’s long run barren.

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Do’s and Don’ts – Gigging

Following on from last week’s article on noisy pups Twin Atlantic and their somewhat skew-whiff approach to playing live, we offer practical advice to any touring acts on how to get the most from being on the road.

DO – attempt to pick gigs which are suitable to you. If you are a Norwegian Death Metal band, that Katie Melua support is likely to lead to more hassle than it’s worth.

DON’T – overdo the visuals. Having an elaborate lightshow and Marshall amp stack is unlikely to be much use when playing the back toilet at the local student union.

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Dinosaur Jr & Built to Spill – Glasgow, ABC

When the world was two decades younger, young men and women dressed in plaid shirts and Sonic Youth t-shirts ruled the world. Well, at least the cooler pages of the Melody Maker. What came to be known as grunge in the wake of Nirvana’s epoch-shattering success was really less a movement and more a loose coalition of the US’s finest alternative guitar bands. Dinosaur Jr were one of the forefathers, their debut album having hit the shelves in 1985. Continue reading

ELM Presents – Fram

ELM Presents kicks off in May with a show at Glasgow’s 13th Note. Headlining will be Scots post-rockers Fram, whose debut This is How We Live Now was one of 2008’s best kept secrets. We talked to frontman Scot van den Akker about all things music:

ELM Presents – we’re excited; how are you feeling about it?
We’re very excited. It’s an honour to headline the first ELM event. We don’t play live too often and we were delighted to be asked. We have been rehearsing a lot and working really hard and hopefully we can play a bit more in 2010. Continue reading

The View – Bongo Club, Edinburgh

Kyle Falconer - Not covered in piss (Nov 2009)

When it comes to music, the relationship between suppliers and customers is far different to that in the real world. There are responsibilities on each side to be adhered to; the transaction isn’t finished the second the fan hands over the money. Both sides invest a lot more in to this relationship than Tesco and it’s customers do. This is a nuanced, subtle partnership which has evolved over fifty years of popular music.

Simply put, both have a role to play and tasks to perform if this is going to work out the way it is intended to. You can argue about the definition of those roles, where they begin and end and what is and isn’t acceptable. But although tonight gives cause to re-assess who does what in the whole artist/fan question, most people would probably agree that it’s definitely a no-no for a fan to piss in an empty pint pot and chuck it at the band. Continue reading