Skip to main content

Pere Ubu

Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
Four stars
“Anyone expecting the hits,” drawls David Thomas, de facto leader of the Cleveland, Ohio sired 'avant-garage' band for almost forty years, “come talk to me. They're in my head, but I won't answer.” A mere six months after touring their fifteenth original studio album, Lady From Shanghai, Thomas and co have ripped up the rule-book (and there is a one hundred page 'manual' to accompany the album) and opted to showcase material from two work-in-progress song cycles, Visions of the Moon and Dr Faustroll in the Big Easy. Like the man says, “If something works, why do it again?”

It's a belligerently conceptual approach, but this is how Thomas, sat in a bucket chair and fuelled by Diet Pepsi and Red Bull as he reads lyrics from a music stand, rolls. In baggy-pants and braces, Thomas looks somewhere between a porch-dwelling blues hollerer and Tennessee Williams' Big Daddy in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. Guitarist Keith Moline, drummer Steve Mehlman, electronics wizard Gagaran, aka Graham 'Dids' Dowdall and latest addition to the Ubu stew, clarinetist Daryll Boon filling in the gaps which absent bassist Michele Temple and vintage synth player Robert Wheeler normally occupy, happily go along with Thomas' benign dictatorship, even as it's overseen with a wry grin.

The new songs themselves are eerie, slow-burning constructions, high on B-movie atmospherics and punctuated by occasional wig-outs. When he's not veering off into rambling anecdotes, Thomas is as much passive conductor as singer, his dark mutterings giving way to anguished high-pitched howls. This is a spacier Pere Ubu, more resembling an atonal chamber ensemble than a rock band, wilfully obtuse and demanding maximum concentration.

The Herald, November 11th 2013

ends






Comments

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…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

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…