There’s A Lot Going On – Jockrock 20th Anniversary show

Ballboy / Mitchell Museum / STOOR / David MacGregor (Kid Canaveral) – Stereo, Glasgow – Friday 20th October 2017

Friday’s Jockrock 20th Anniversary show was the sort of eclectic bill that was worth leaving work a bit early and traversing the country for. Given that David MacGregor from Kid Canaveral, STOOR and Mitchell Museum have all featured on here frequently before it was always an attractive proposition but the chance to catch a rare full band set from Ballboy sealed the deal.

Despite the early work departure I still arrived in Stereo 10 minutes after the scheduled start time yet only missed half David’s opening number.

Although it’s the third time I’ve seen David play solo, this set has little content in common with the previous shows. What’s consistent is that there’s a lot of talking between songs (sound engineer Gav effectively tells David to stop talking if he wants to do a final song!), a bit of humour and some swearing.

Two of the five songs are drawn from the most recent Kid Canaveral album ‘Faulty Inner Dialogue’ (you know – that one you always meant to buy).  By suggesting that folk should imagine electronics going on in the background of ‘First We Take Dumbarton’ and recent single ‘Pale White Flower’ I think David undersells the songs even if it’s done jokingly. Certainly there’s little doubting the quality of song-writing on display.

The most memorable song on the night though is a version of ‘Another Thing!!’ which feels a little odd shorn of its female backing vocals (which probably merits losing the exclamation marks below!). Perhaps on another occasion it might be an opportunity for audience participation but the time to try it maybe isn’t at 7.30 p.m. opening a four band bill at Stereo.

David played

1 What We Don’t Talk About  2 First We Take Dumbarton  3 And Another Thing  4 Pale White Flower  5 Low Winter Sun

STOOR certainly lend a degree of eclecticism to the bill but unfortunately have to play a man down due to illness (get well soon, Davie). The reduction to a single guitarist limits their selections but the set remains focussed more on new material. As a consequence, it’s a largely heavy duty, dark set with the light provided by the opening ‘STOOR Theme’ and the closing ‘Sure Beats Me’.

There’s a rare outing for ‘Open The Box’ from the debut with the unrecorded ‘Lychen’ also featuring. ‘Lovebombing’ is the song that shares the most with the post punk pop of the likes of ‘Frack’ or ‘Witchfinder’ from the debut although the latter is only omitted due to a slightly shortened running time.

But, otherwise, it all goes pretty well.

STOOR played:

1 STOOR Theme  2 Lychen  3 Love Bombing  4 Founding Fathers  5 Open The Box  6 Chivers  7 Sure Beats Me

Mitchell Museum are fantastic – which by rights they should be since they’re playing many of their best songs in one half hour burst.

Nevertheless, they seem more confident than at the Glad Café show (which was pretty good to start with) and that’s presumably due to getting a couple of gigs under their belt with the reduced line-up.

‘Daybreaking Threats’, from this year’s ‘Everett Trap’ LP, flashes by as an undeniably pop gem but I do sometimes wonder if, regardless of what they go on to do, like Teenage Fanclub, they may be defined by their first single. Certainly, the electro-glam version of ‘Warning Bells’ on offer is a particular highlight on the night but even it is eclipsed by a frantic ‘What They Built’ with Kris pulling all sorts of Bass God poses.

Mitchell Museum played*:

1 Wingstripping  2 Red Water  3 Daybreaking Threats  4 Panic Pawn 5 What They Built  6 Tiger Heartbeat  7 Warning Bells  8 The Claws  9 We Won 2nd Prize/Copy and Paste

Which neatly brings us to the headliners Ballboy. Elder statespersons of Scottish indie now, it’s difficult to imagine that there’s a more likeable band on the planet.

I’d kind of forgotten how much bite they have live but they race through a set of old favourites and new potential classics so quickly that Gordon says that new song ‘A Face That Looks Like A House That’s Been Turned Into A Shop’ isn’t supposed to be played at that pace.

‘Red Horses Racing’ is the other new tune to get an airing (although I have heard it before). It’s a duet with Alexa and one of the few tracks on the night to demonstrate Ballboy’s gentler side. It’s partly about two lovers sitting on a wall at the end of the world and it’s preceded by Gordon’ only real monologue of the night saying that when he’d written it the end of the world seemed pretty fanciful. Oh, and according to Gordon, the event which triggered all these world changing events? Hibs winning the Scottish Cup!

It’s a great evening, perhaps modest in ambition but a whole lot more warm hearted and, dare I say it, professional, than the most recent big show I’ve been to – at a fraction of the price. Here’s to the next 20 years!

*If anyone can supply the full Ballboy set, I’d be grateful.

Here’s some photos from the show:

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The full set of photos is here. Almost all are different!