Friday, 1 August 2008

Ballboy, The Smittens, Pocketbooks - The Luminaire

Its warm, warm, warm and the word on the net is that the show is sold out except for a few tickets on the door, so come early. I came an hour early, and that's how I got in. Also returned Andy Pocketbooks's capo that had been left on a train platform in the Midlands on Sunday night.

Inside, its almost like Indietracks is still going on, the same faces in the crowd, the same bands on stage, the same feelings of excitement. How long can this feeling last?

Pocketbooks are up first. My companion says they sound like a young version of Belle and Sebastian, but more upbeat.

The new songs that I wasn't sure about last week, they haven't grown on me yet. Like, their earlier stuff is packed with hooks and melody, sometimes even motifs from motown, but I think the new songs, are a little more about the tune and the texture. I'm going to have to hear them recorded so my interpretation isn't jaundiced by standing in the part of the room where the sound is pants.

My companion who hadn't heard them before thought they were nice, and liked the sound of Andy's voice.

The folk at the front of the crowd were dancing like it was still Saturday afternoon.

The Smittens on next, crikey, its like the sixth time I've seen some of them play in the past week, if I were still in the boy scouts I could get The Smitten merit badge.

We retire to seats at the back to watch them on the screens.

I think I prefered seeing them play in a club rather than at a festival, it feels more comfortable, not so much more intimate, cos you can't beat acoustic sets on train platforms, even with a stick.

They start off with an acappella number before bursting in with all instruments ablazing.

The between-song banter and introductions are the icing on the cheesecake.
"Can I have more vocals in my monitor?"
"Can I have more AC in my monitor?"
"Ooh, I can I have more sleep in mine?"
And whole shared experience of most people in the room, or at least the more vocal one, having been at Indietracks. Heck, Colin was even talking about how he'd checked Anorak and needed to point out that it was Elizabeth from Allo Darlin' who suggested playing on the platform.

I think my companion liked the Smittens the best and the song they did that was like from the Grease soundtrack.

Ooh, ooh, if I ever get together a rockabilly covers band, possibly called The Southside Wolfknuckles, we gotta do a garage cover of Gumdrops, F-C-G-Am innit?

Between bands, there's this flyer for other bands playing The Luminaire, the girls asks me if I could recommend any of them, but none of the names look familar. Except Alastair Roberts, he sat behind me in Russian class in Glasgow. How is it that the world works like that?

For the final act of the night, the sweat is dripping off the walls, it like The Woodside Social Club all over again when Ballboy hit the stage.

Ballboy's been kicking about for years, playing much the same songs too. They're great songs, "I've got pictures of you in your underwear" and "Donald in the Bushes with a Bag of Glue" and he's still coming up with the goods "Godzilla Vs The Island of Manhattan with you and I somewhere inbetween". But when I think about songs like Avante Guard, and Gordon MacIntyre's introduction to it, I can't help but think of the long running comic strip in the Khaki Shorts comic, about a chap called Gordon MacIntyre and the tribulations of his relationship with a girl who works in a record shop in Edinburgh.

The crowd are loving them tonight. The music wraps round you and carries you a small boat on a turbulant sea, the vocals a stready reassuring rudder.

The banter about how they smile at each other on stage now, so folk don't think they're just Scottish miserabilists. Its a lesson they've learnt from the days of touring with The Smittens. I can't help but feel that its a little bit like selling out. They are Scottish miserabilists, upholding a fine tradition of that type, by smiling, they're betraying themselves, pandering to the needs of the audience rather than wearing their own feelings as a badge.

Maybe we all do eventually.

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