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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth - Classic Grande - 13/12/10 (Glasgow)

I've seen Steve Conte a few times over the years playing with the New York Dolls, and then again more recently with the Michael Monroe band, and the one thing that every gig has had in common is that it has been glaringly obvious that Steve could never be considered a hired hand.
When he is within the ranks of a band you get a full on strutting rock god filled with the confidence, the talent and the swagger to take a performance to a whole new level.
To paraphrase Dirty Dancing “No one puts Steve in the corner” and what I mean by that is his star shines as bright as the brightest.
No one has the ability to place him in a position of playing second fiddle. Steve takes command of every stage he sets foot on, and that's a fact.
It's like a rock and roll truism that can be carved in stone. Steve Conte + Guitar + Stage = Good Times.
So with this in mind I wasn't going to miss out on seeing him fronting his “Crazy Truth”.
A band whose album has barely left my stereo since I picked up a copy the last time Steve rolled into town with the New York Dolls.
I just knew that seeing him take centre stage was going to be a full throttle affair, but I'm getting ahead of myself here
The night actually started with half a bottle of red wine consumed on the journey to Glasgow to ward off the cold and take the edge off.
We had the album pounding out on the stereo the whole way there and like the wine it was hitting the spot. The combination of the buzz from the wine and the rock and roll was ideally setting me up for the night to come.
Once we managed to get into the city centre and find a parking space there was just time for another quick drink and then it was time to meet Steve for an interview. So of course that's what we did.
The Crystal Palace, the bar we were in, is only a few yards away from the Classic Grande were Steve is playing so it is easy to make yourself available from there just in case the arranged times aren't running as smoothly as they should.
No worries tonight though, because at 6 on the dot we are in the venue watching The Melodramas running through an impressive soundcheck and chatting to Steve.
Steve himself is a nice guy, generous with his time and open to answering whatever is thrown at him.
He comes across as being pretty focussed and knows what he wants to. I got the impression that he has one eye on the present and the other on the future at all times.
I actually liked his straight talking style. Even when he does play with an answer he lets you know exactly what he means with an arched eye, a smile on his lips or a dismissive shrug.
Let's just say that he is a confident communicator and it would be difficult to misconstrue what he is saying.
Once the interview was finished we shuffled off to the Crystal Palace again to take advantage of their mucho cheapness alcohol offers.
By the time we did return to the venue Eddy and the T-Bolts were midway through their pop-punk, rock heavy set and I was a bit annoyed with myself for allowing the lure of a drink to distract me from catching them from start to finish.
They're one of the better bands treading the boards in Glasgow. I'd rank them up there in my own personal top five.
Very tight songs, a bit of humour and an excellent frontman. A band who really shouldn't be missed, even if I partially did do just that this time.
Next was perennial favourites of mine. The guys who have been rocking all of my 2010. The mighty “Tragic City Thieves”.
What more can I say about these guys that I haven't already. They are an eight legged sleaze machine and no one, that's right, no one, in Glasgow comes close to doing what they do.
There's a whole fistful of new songs in the set and over the next couple of months they are back in the studio to lay down their second album.
That will be two in less than a year.
This band are literally firing on all cylinders and laying the groundwork for a bigger and brighter future for themselves with blood, sweat and glitter.
All that is going to be required is for them to be in the right place at the right time and they will be jettisoned to the fore of the UK's rock scene.
Next up is The Melodramas. A band who are having a second run at the UK in support of Steve, and it is obvious within the first couple of minutes of them taking to the stage that they are a worthy addition to the bill.
All around me I was hearing who people thought they sounded like and no two people were saying the same. For me I thought they were like the Coral stealing some of the Cures bass lines and then reassembling the sound to have a faster and punkier edge to it.
The band as whole fit well together and give the impression of being well road tested. It's a solid and impressive outing for them and I'll definitely be buying their d├ębut when they finish it and if they come back to this neck of the woods I am in no doubt that I would venture out to see them again.
The night was always going to be Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth's though.
From the first slash at the guitar it was full on rock and roll.
Virtually the whole album gets a run through and sounds physically more aggressive.
Steve's guitar playing is fluid throughout. It's as if his instrument is an extension of him and the guys in the Crazy Truth are cemented into the groove right alongside him.
It really is electric.
I've seen plenty of guitar heroes over the years and a few of them can carry a tune, and likewise I've seen some singers who are pretty hot playing the guitar, but it's rare to get someone who isn't a jack of all trades but a master of them all and Steve Conte is one of that rare breed.
LA Woman is woven into a track seamlessly and if Jim Morrison could have been there then I bet he would have had a smile creasing his face.
At the end of the show Steve tells us that Ginger has been opening his eyes to some new bands and the Rezillos are one of them. It's his cue to then rattle through a cover of their cover of Fleetwood Mac's “Somebody is going to get their head kicked in tonight.”
For a Scottish crowd it is the ideal finisher to a set that was full of high points.
Thankfully it will not be long before Steve is back in Glasgow as the dates for the Michael Monroe tour have been announced, and if we are lucky then maybe some time in the future he will be back to once again show us what he can do in his own right.

APRIL 2011
The Michael Monroe Band.

4th – Brighton, Concorde 2
5th – Bristol, Academy 2
6th – Exeter, Phoenix
7th – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
8th – London, O2 Academy
9th – Leeds, T.J.’s
11th – Norwich, Waterfront
12th – Newcastle, Academy 2
13th – Sheffield, Corporation
14th – Manchester, Academy 3
15th – Glasgow, Garage
16th – Nottingham, Rock City
17th – Birmingham, HMV Institute

Steve Conte on Facebook

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