Thursday, February 16, 2006The Boy With The Arab Strap
I always love hearing Scottish people when I'm not in Scotland. I like to think there's something special about being Scottish that renders you with a level of understanding of Scottishness and Scottish music that people who haven't lived there can't understand. I probably can't speak - I rememember one time as my GNER train was pulling in to Edinburgh, a Glaswegian answered his mobile phone and said "Aye, I'm still in North East England". Those bastards. But anyway, there's something about bands like Sons and Daughters, Belle and Sebastian and this week's Scottish visitors in Berlin (other than my friends from school), Arab Strap, something dark, sinister, sad, hopeless, that can perhaps be best understood after year on year of rain, chips and cheese and Tenants lager. Maybe that's a Glasgow thing. In any case, there is something particular about coming from Scotland. As Arab Strap came on stage at Magnet on Monday, Aidan announced that they came from "all corners of Bonnie Scotland" in a gravelly thick accent. And even as an Edinburger with London vowels and Scottish Rs (i.e. I basically sound Cornish), I felt ripples of unsubstantiated pride.
The gig itself was epic - little banter, deep, dark songs detailing the bleaker states of mind. The songs off last year's The Last Romance went down especially well - they are definitely more accesible than those on the previous albums (and I must say this is a good thing!) and inject a bit of energy into the live show. The most alarming thing about the gig was the amount of hippies there - totally unexpected. I had not-washed-in-five-years dreadlocks brushing against my camera, roll-up smoke blown in my face, the stench of stale sweat..urgh. It was as though my famous eco-warrior sister was also in the room.
You can download Stink from The Last Romance here:
And in Scottish band news, Belle and Sebastian, possibly my favourite band in the world, will be touring Germany in May:
11.05. Köln E-Werk
12.05. Hamburg Große Freiheit 36
21.05. Berlin Columbiahalle
22.05. Mainz KUZ
23.05. München Tonhalle