Sunday, 12 December 2010
You know that time when the words just don't do any justice at all, like
Is it even possible for me to say futher supportive words about Butcher Boy without embarrassing myself or the band? I am a believer in this group of people, in the Rob Gretton sense, and what they can do together. I'd predict Christmas #1's, if I wasn't such a realist. But, I will try and string a few coherent and objective words together, without going off on too much of a tangent. And so... the rather grand Jeffrey Hall in the Mitchell Library is like a turned-up-to-eleven sauna room in a Finnish Presidential Palace. Er, or something. It's a marked contrast to what's happening outside, even with the snow beginning to melt and the slush disappearing down the working-on-overtime City Council drains. It's a shiny, happy, sweaty (West Endy meets Soothsidy chattering classes!) bunch of people here today for a Glasgow Christmas Fayre with a twist; the usual assortment of twee curiousity stalls with interesting items and crafts all for sale followed by a band, local champs Butcher Boy, playing an hour-long set. Weans are everywhere, admiring recent purchases and stuffing cakes into jammy mouths, with grown-ups chasing them or debating which trinket to shed cash for. In terms of the band, it's the full team out on the level playing-field today, including an enhanced string section - which adds so much to the Butcher Boy sound - and Findlay back on drums as well. The big stick man was missed at the Offshore gig a few weeks back, but like that set, the playlist today is a mix of old and new songs, with the material from forthcoming third album 'Helping hands' sounding dynamic, alive and, well, ready for hatching as a friend might put it. The venue is an interesting choice, very elegant and welcoming, but the acoustics do seem to 'muffle' John's vocals a little. This is a slight disappointment, given his voice, like the strings, is one of the key ingredients to the magic of this band. But it is only a slight concern and obviously not something within the band's control. The other wee niggly point I'd confess to is the performance of the song 'Helping hands', it just seems a little awkward and stilted this afternoon, the structure of this track seems somehow out of synch. The lyrics are a glorious love poem to the Southside of the city, but the way the music stops and starts takes a little to get into. This wasn't picked up on, by myself at least, at the Offshore performance, but it is a bit noteable today. Perhaps this is just me being over-critical of a band who are, in my opinion, simply untouchable right now. In truth, and you have to agree, 'React or Die' is up there with 'Turn on the Bright Lights' as one of the best albums of the decade (that is facing it's old age), and it's nothing short of criminal that it lacked the promotion it fully deserved. As a whole, the set is fantastic, opening with 'Days like these will be the death of me' (from first album 'Profit in Your Poetry') is a belter of an idea and some of the highlights included an almost too emotional performance of 'I could be in love with anyone' (tears! weep!) and a kind of 'shock and awe' version of 'The butcher boy' that almost has the ornate ceilings shaking. The instrumental closer, 'Every other Saturday', if it were a book, would be badged as a work of heartbreaking, staggering genius by someone like Tom Paulin on a late-night TV programme. It features some wonderful interplay between John's intricate guitar work and Maya's haunting cello swooning. Beautiful, and then some. However, the song I want to share below is the slightly longer version of 'There is no-one who can tell you where you've been' (which first appeared on the EP 'The Eighteenth Emergency', released back in 2007). This, for me, was the best song of the performance and illustrates clearly how fantastic this group of (scarily!) multi-talented people are and how well they work together, and for each other. Like many other people, I can't wait to get my hands on the forthcoming album and just hope it leads them to great success in 2011. They are such a nice group of folks you just want to hug them and buy four copies of everything they've ever put out. So please do! In all, it was just a great afternoon with many familiar faces in the audience all swayed by what was being witnessed.
Butcher Boy - 'There is no-one who can tell you where you've been' (3.25)
Butcher Boy are to be found here and on the 21st December they are supporting Belle and Sebastian at the Barrowlands in Glasgow. Not to be missed, and not too late for Christmas! You can buy all available Butcher Boy releases here.
PS. In particular, a big thanks to Robert for being so accommodating with my weans after the show and letting them play (er, destroy!) his brother-in law's bass guitar. The plectrums went home firmly burrowed, deeply, into jacket pockets. Also, please read JC's review over here. As ever, he captures the event perfectly and you should know he totally tholed it to be at this gig so appreciate his efforts, likesay.