The Monochrome Set / The Cathode Ray – Stereo, Glasgow – Saturday 14th April 2018
Another Glasgow gig and another slight gamble. Certainly, a relatively rare appearance by the Cathode Ray featured highly in the decision to attend but I don’t often tend to trek across the country to a Glasgow show just to see a support band.
Yet, before Saturday, my exposure to headliners, the Monochrome Set, stretched to just one song (released nearly 40 years ago). So this wasn’t by any means a dead cert. Yet it turned out to be wonderful.
The Cathode Ray opened the show with a 10 song set drawn from both albums and the soon to be released third. Hoping to see a five-piece Ray I was slightly disappointed by the fact that there were only 4 musicians with Phil Biggs filling in on lead for the absent Steve Brown. But it’s fair to say that Phil did a stand-up job. The 5 piece can wait.
Overall it was a brisk set, with little time to linger between tunes but, equally, a particularly strong performance.
The two brand new tunes impressed. The brooding opener ‘Memories of the Future’ set a high standard from the off whilst new single ‘Another World’ just grows on me with every listen. Mix in a choice of old favourites including personal favourites ‘Don’t Waste Your Words’, ‘Patience is a Virtue’ and an emphatic closing ‘What’s It All About’ and the entrance fee was justified already – regardless of whatever the rest of the evening would bring.
Fortunately the Monochrome Set didn’t disappoint and indeed won a couple of new fans.
Visually they’re an odd mixture. Singer Bid was struggling with a cold and regularly coughed and spluttered between songs but somehow managed to hold all the notes during the songs.
The bass player was nonchalance personified, most of the time playing with his legs crossed although towards the end he did disappear behind one of Stereo’s pillars, I’m hoping to go radge.
The keyboard player was quite a character too, long hair, beard and robes and a visibly upbeat personality whilst the drummer somehow looked dapper throughout balancing his hat for the duration of the show, even as he started the wrong song early on!
Initially there was a run of 5 or 6 faster songs, all good pop tunes, but I did start to wonder if they had anything else to offer. Oh ye of little faith, they certainly did.
To make that point there were two slower songs immediately after that opening salvo and thereafter the band deftly demonstrated their variety. Most memorably perhaps was one that started off sounding slightly … slinky although it ended in more direct fashion.
There was definitely a lot of 60s garage pop going on at different times reminding me of Subway Sect or Julian Cope in his more accessible moments. But as Bid announced precisely none of the tunes, new or old, I’ve only managed to identify a handful here.
The brutal curfew at Stereo unfortunately guillotined the show dead on 10 p.m. although the Set’s terrific performance had done more enough in the 65 minutes or so on stage to win me over.
Turns out there’s a new Monochrome Set album (‘Maisieland’) and several of the songs from it were recognisable from the one listen on the night.
So, a great night, and I think I’ll be adding to my 2018 collection shortly as a direct result.
The Cathode Ray played:
1 Memories of the Future 2 Resist 3 Lost & Found 4 It Takes One to Know One 5 Don’t Waste Your Words 6 Another World 7 Patience Is A Virtue 8 The Eyes are the Window to the Soul 9 Around 10 What’s It All About?
A set of photos from the show (mainly of the Cathode Ray due to “battery problems”) are available here.