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O2 Academy, Glasgow
4 stars
Like some missing link between Roxy Music and Radiohead, Howard Devoto’s troupe of post-punk fabulists always understood the power of pure melodrama. So it is with this second coming twenty-eight years on. Against a back-drop of Linder Sterling’s chalk-faced chorus, the band enters to the strains of The Thin Air, a majestic instrumental by the band’s late guitarist, John McGeogh. “We’re still Magazine,” Devoto teases, sporting espadrilles, three-quarter length trousers and a dazzling off-pink jacket that threatens to bleach out his bald pate, “and I’m still Adam Faith.”

It’s a typically arch introduction to a ninety minute set of should’ve been hits, throughout which Devoto conducts the band the way a precocious two-year old would, updates a lyric in Model Worker, still the only love song to use the word ‘hegemony,’ to reference Obama, and, on Definitive Gaze, swoops across the stage, arms outstretched like a bird. Most theatrical of all is when he leads Rosalie Cunningham of uber-bobbed support band Ipso Facto to the microphone for a bittersweet collision of two waltz-time songs, The Great Beautician In The Sky and The Honeymoon Killers.

Magazine live were always much looser, more urgent and appositely funky than their records polish suggested. Much of this stems from Barry Adamson’s gulping bass and the science-fiction ska of Dave Formula’s keyboards. Noko, Devoto’s former foil in his post-Magazine duo Luxuria, steps into McGeogh’s shoes admirably, making paranoid anthem Shot By Both Sides sound scarier than ever. By the time they finish with their brutal version of Captain Beefheart’s I Love You, You Big Dummy, the Ipso Facto girls are in the heart of the crowd, dancing wildly aloft their companions’ shoulders. As closure on their back pages, it’s a wonderful image.

The Herald, February 18th 2009

ends

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