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Pere Ubu

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Four stars
“Ma body may be broken,” drawls Pere Ubu's vocalist and de facto
director David Thomas to explain why he won't be getting up from his
chair so the people at the back of the room can see him, “but ma miiiiiind
is more dangerous than ever.”

It may sound like a line from a Tennessee Williams play, but having
already thrown his walking stick to the ground en route to an
explanation of Random-access memory, Thomas' seated presence as he
slugs a bottle of red wine inbetween reading lyrics from a music stand
is clearly a bodily necessity.  Mercurial belligerence may have always
been Thomas' thing, but his uncompromising stance is also a knowing
piece of self-reflection as the current Ubu line up play two sets
culled largely from the band's recent Carnival of Souls album.

With no mention of Ubu's recent appearance on the soundtrack of the
latest series of American Horror Story, the first half hour is a
loose-fit alliance of clarinet-led B movie electronics that rebuilds
1980s single Waiting For Mary with theremins and a monologue about how
Thomas is in league with a Martian invasion. It's a piece of comically
retro-futurist hokum before Thomas throws the mother of all strops in
the second half. Painfully in need of the bathroom, a smoke and some
serious TLC, he conducts, blows a horn and yowls with 'ornery intent.

Things get edgier as Thomas grimaces and bears it throughout the set's
remainder. Relieved at last, he returns for a soporific version of the
new album's first single, Irene. After such a thrillingly tense display
of parallel universe sci-fi pop, to see him perk up is a relief to all.

The Herald, November 20th 2014


ends



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