Skip to main content


Carling Academy, Glasgow
4 stars
As art-rock pranks go, Devo’s marriage of stylised sci-fi geek chic and turbo-charged new wave power pop was a cartoon riot of high-concept bubblegum satire that laughed at itself as well as the system that spawned them. 35 years on from the band’s initial grouping in Akron, Ohio and touring for the first time in 15 years, despite advancing years, Devo remain a thrilling mix of performance art as pop song that the likes of Chicks On Speed have appropriated wholesale but without any of the tunes.

Clad in trademark yellow boiler suits and Bill and Ben ‘energy dome’ hats (only £18 at the merchandise stall), Devo’s retrograde cod-philosophy of de-evolution, which acknowledged man’s ongoing backward slide during the Nixon and Reagan eras, has, in the Bush administration, unwittingly found its time. Musically, too, strip away the outfits and self-conscious quirks as the band themselves gradually disrobe to a shorts and t-shirts combo, and Devo’s analogue synth bleeps and taut, stop-start guitar anthems sound utterly, adolescently now.

The live routine itself has barely changed as, lined up in a row at the front of the stage, for 75 breathless minutes Devo power through their greatest hits with such none-stop twitchiness as to suggest they’re running on long life batteries. When the energy domes are removed, the band’s now visible grey hair only accentuates their oddness. They may not be that much younger than The Rolling Stones, but Devo’s version of Satisfaction remains a classic rock and roll deconstruction.

There’s something triumphal about Devo’s revenge of the nerds routine, and when vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh returns for the encore as overgrown infant Booji Boy to sing Beautiful World, Devo’s mission looks wonderfully complete.

The Herald, June 26th 2007



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …