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Things Are Tough, We Can Still Picnic

CCA, Glasgow
Five stars

The image of Musselburgh’s late bard Jock Scot beamed above the stage for this very special 25th anniversary Celtic Connections mash-up of Douglas MacIntyre’s living arts lab The Creeping Bent Organisation acts as a spiritual guide for what follows. With the night opened by next wave janglers The Plastic Youth, Pop Group guitarist Gareth Sager’s new stripped-down outfit The Hungry Ghosts are nominal headliners, with MacIntyre’s cut-and-paste supergroup Port Sulphur leading from behind. The actuality proves more complex, as auteurs from Creeping Bent’s annals tag-team their way through the years.

MacIntyre is hidden behind a Rah Band ski mask at the start of Port Sulphur’s set, which sees Ken McCluskey of the Bluebells wield a megaphone as he trades vocals with Secret Goldfish chanteuse Katy Lironi on the motorik disco of Fast Boys and Factory Girls, which segues seamlessly into Hawkwind’s Silver Machine. The post-punk homage of Valentino’s and the Secret Goldfish’s Pink Drone follow in a sense memory patchwork of parallel universe cosmic pop.

Former Orange Juice co-vocalist James Kirk steps up to sing on three numbers, including the sublime Get on Board, a protest song for a future pop republic. Davy Henderson and Simon Smeeton of The Sexual Objects come on for The Lane, with SOBS drummer Ian Holford taking the vocal part sung on the Paranoic Critical album by Vic Godard, before a massed rendition of the SOBs’ own Here Come the Rubber Cops.

Holford steps behind the kit with Sager and The Hungry Ghosts, who trip the light fantastic with a wilfully spartan set of bad-ass funk-n-roll that sees Sager yelp and holler like James Brown possessed by Ted Milton. Bump-and-grind, pop-savvy character assassinations, a homage to Scot and extended wig-outs are to the fore.

Henderson returns clad in a Community Payback jacket for a delicious Johnny Bristol Flu before Smeeton joins for an epic four-guitar reimagining of The Nectarine No 9’s missing in action snake-hipped rock-groove monster, Port of Mars. It’s a swoonsome way to come of age.

The Herald, February 4th 2019


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