20160526_mm03Malcolm Middleton / The Pictish Trail – Beat Generator Live, Dundee – 26th May 2016

With three gigs in 4 days, I guess I better get cracking with last night’s review.

Malcolm Middleton was, of course, a staple of the early years of the blog with regular records and gigs. In recent years however he’s kept a lower profile and other than the odd solo gig and the Human Don’t Be Angry stuff, he’s not featured on here as much.

So the new album ‘Summer of 13’ (out today) and this tour are a great chance to reconnect with one of Scotland’s finest songwriters.

Mixing tracks from that album, with highlights from his back catalogue last night’s show offered more than enough evidence to back up that claim.

With the new album heading in a more electronica influenced direction and the stage crammed from left to right with keyboards and synths, initial impressions were that this would be far from a normal Middleton band show

Those impressions were only reinforced by the opening song – a reworked take on ‘Choir’, emphasising the electronic elements of the song. That was quickly followed by three tracks from the new record very much in that vein.

But, perhaps wary of completely wrong-footing his audience, Malcolm thereafter largely placed the emphasis on guitars with only the occasional diversion into electronica. Indeed it was as raw a show as I’ve seen him play as there were two guitars for most of the set rather than the traditional guitar/keys set-up which most of his live bands have favoured.

As a consequence there were rousing versions of the likes ‘A Brighter Beat’ and ‘Loneliness Shines’ in what was basically a run through the greatest hits.

The best of the new material though compared well with the old material with singles ‘Steps’ and ‘You & I’ (complete with anextended dance finale) particularly impressive. Both ‘Like John Lennon Said’ and ‘Little Hurricane’ were also instantly recognisable from one play of the album, always a sign of a memorable tune.

The band departed after an anthemic Love Comes In Waves’ as the show shifted focus again for a three song solo acoustic finale. The most surprising inclusion was a straight acoustic reading of the more than a little bonkers title track from the new record.

All in all it was a terrific show although, even allowing for the fact that it was a school night, I would have expected more folk to have turned out. But then maybe I’m expecting too much from Dundee.

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Support came from the Pictish Trail (above) whose sound was fleshed out by Suse from Tuff Love on additional keys and bass.

It was the perfect warm-up for the full band show with Johnny’s mixture of electro-pop and folk represented through songs both new and old. Highlights included opening track ‘The Handstand Crowd’ and new single ‘Far Gone’ whilst Mr Lynch was as entertaining as ever between songs.

Anyhow there’s still plenty of time to catch the show as the tour continues until next weekend with shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh this weekend.

Malcolm played:

1) Choir  2) Little Black Hole  3) You & I  4) Like John Lennon Said  5) Blue Plastic Bags  6) A Brighter Beat  7) Fuck It I Love You  8) Red Travellin’ Socks  9) Loneliness Shines  10) Steps  11) We’re All Going To Die  12) Little Hurricane  13) Love Comes In Waves  14) Devastation*  15) Gone Gone Gone*  16) Summer of 13*

 

 

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