Tennents Mutual Season 1 – Malcolm Middleton / Los Campesinos! / Eagleowl – Fat Sam’s Live – Thursday 23rd October 2008
For some reason I expected this to be a solo acoustic Malcolm Middleton show, but, no, it turns out to be a band show after all. Which is both a pleasant surprise and a slight disappointment since I had been psyching myself up and looking forward to hearing a full solo set.
Whilst it’s Malky’s regular band, on stage roles have been streamlined with Jenny forsaking guitars and keyboards to stick to the violin all evening and Stevie gravitating from the piano for the earlier songs to guitar.
In terms of content the set’s pretty much a run through of his greatest hits with a couple of new songs thrown in for good measure. Much more so than Glasgow last year, it’s a traditionally paced set, building from the slower opening three songs towards the better known up tempo numbers.
The opening is quite downbeat but the pace started picking up with the first new song (which may or may not be called ‘Travelling Socks’) which is a jaunty folk influenced pop tune.
From then, with the exception of an exceptional ‘Devastation’, it was pretty much up tempo fare with most of the singles getting an outing. In this exalted company it’s hard picking out highlights but a gargantuan ‘Death Love Depression Love Death’ was one whilst ‘We’re All Going To Die’ retained a pleasing clatter even without keyboards.
That run of songs was brought to an end with the second new song of the evening, which initially seemed quite upbeat and poppy before a slower, extended middle section which led back into the “Doo Doo Doo Doo” chorus.
A spectacular ‘Loneliness Shines’ led straight into a surprising, but effective, choice of set closer in ‘Love Comes In Waves’ from ‘Sleight of Heart’, which even came complete with a lighter held aloft moment from one of the enthusiasts down the front.
Disappointingly there was no encore, perhaps because the reaction throughout was in the main polite rather than unrestrained. But since the whole thing actually felt quite self contained it wasn’t a shattering disappointment. Even though they didn’t play ‘Superhero Songwriters’, ‘Up Late At Night Again’, ‘Devil and The Angel’, ‘Follow Robin Down’ and ‘Monday Night Nothing’ to name but few. Actually put like that, it’s a MASSIVE disappointment!
Malcolm Middleton Setlist
1. Blue Plastic Bags 2. Four Cigarettes 3. Crappo The Clown 4. Travelling Socks (?) 5. Devastation 6. Break My Heart 7. A Brighter Beat 8. Fuck It I Love You 9. We’re All Going To Die 10. Death Love Depression Love Death 11. Morning Shadows, Afternoon Shadows, Evening Shadows, Night-time Shadows (?) 12. Loneliness Shines 13. Love Comes In Waves
Earlier, I’d very much enjoyed my second encounter with Eagleowl. Numbering four band members this time out, the five song set, most of which featured in Edinburgh, was all too short. The extra member on violin and mandolin gave the set a lighter more uptempo feel although there was the down side that there was less of Bart’s guitar to enjoy.
In between were Los Campesinos! who arguably got a better reception than the headliner. Sometimes I think that a whacky exclamation mark is the sign of a band trying too hard and unfortunately that seems to be the case here. Their live approach was fairly percussive, they struck rather than played a lot of the instruments, and their singer shouted rather than sung for the most part. And over the course of 45 minutes that lost its appeal.
Now I’m not saying that LC! are without merit, far from it. The funny thing is that I think I might enjoy the records more than the live show. But it was on the rare occasions that they departed from the default, aggressive modus operandi that I enjoyed them most, particularly on the song three from the end (‘You! Me! Dancing!’, I reckon) which not entirely coincidently featured the singer singing rather than shouting. And whilst the band as a whole seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout, the singer actually smiled less than the headliner, which takes some doing!
Here’s a bootleg of a Malky live favourite:
Malcolm Middleton – Loneliness Shines live (original version on ‘Into The Woods’) [Buy the CD or download the tracks here]
If you’re looking for a record of the MM solo experience then get the Live at Bush Hall CD from here.