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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Dick Valentine/Tragic City Thieves - ABC2 - Glasgow (25/05/12)

I like the unexpected.
The moment when you realize that what you think you are going to get doesn't quite transpire, and instead it's a whole new ballgame.
I would happily exist in that moment, that exact second when peoples preconceived ideas are bitch slapped to tears.
In a list of personal motto's I suspect that 'dash my expectations motherfucker. I dare you.' would rank quite high.
So when Tragic City Thieves took to the stage, in support of Electric 6's Dick Valentine in the ABC2, and began an acoustic set the shivers ran up and down my spine as I was caught completely unaware.
This was not what glam trash terrorists should sound like.
Instead of thrashing the songs out acoustically the band have reworked them completely, and while they are recognisable as the originals its very obvious these beasts have a thumping heart all of their own.
Each song is the bastard offspring of what has come before.
In the space of one track being played a whole world of new opportunities opened up for them.
In the future they needn't feel constrained to playing electric sets as acoustically they are just as fantastic a band.
The guitar work from Stu seemed effortlessly organic. On each song he provided the perfect balance of flourishes and at times there was a definite cinematic feel to it all.
If pushed I could probably write a thousand word essay on how impressed I was with his ability to paint an aural picture over every song, but I could equally do the same for both Jim and CJ.
Jim's use of an acoustic bass instead of an electric, as I so often see being played in acoustic sets, gave everything a warm and authentic feel, while CJ's vocals allowed us all to appreciate his abilities as lyricist with his delivery of the songs.
In less than a week I have seen these guys play two completely different sets, and both have cemented in my opinion that no one comes close to touching what they do here in Scotland.
If this band fail to make an impact on a much larger scale then I would forever use them as an example of how talent and passion does not necessary equate to success, and that's just wrong.
If you have it, then you should reap the rewards. Simple as that, and these guys have got it in spades.
So how does Dick Valentine follow that?
Well quite easily truth be told.
Even without the pizazz that Electric 6 have, Dick on his own still commands attention.
He doesn't even really have to do much to draw the eye to him.
It seems to be that he naturally has a quality about him that has a presence on stage.
When he ambles on he could be a roadie, but no one pays much attention to roadies while every eye in the house is on Dick plugging his guitar in.
Avoiding the big entrance he steps up and shakes hands and chats with fans before getting down to the business it hand.
This isn't really what people expect from a headlining act from the US playing a show, but Dick could never be accused of following the herd. .
For all intents and purposes this is actually less of a gig as we know it, and more an artists communing with his fans on a very basic level.
From the beginning to the end it's all very relaxed with the between song banter akin to friends just shooting the shit.
I like it.
There's a real warmth in the room, and he's more than deserving of the reaction he gets when he does start in on the opening song of the evening.
Part of the appreciation may come from the audience knowing that this is a real solo tour to.
It's quite literally one man, a guitar, a bag full of CDs and a train ticket.
It's not a new concept and bands have been doing it forever, but the pioneering spirit of globe-trotting with a bag full of songs and little else is one that I find alluring, and I suspect others do to.
It's got an appeal to it.
No doubt their will be hardships along the way, long hours filled with mundane shit, and nights where he is so bored sitting alone in a hotel room that he may succumb to masturbating himself close to death just to fill the time, but they will hopefully fall short of shadowing the good times.
Let's be honest here and admit that travelling the world, experiencing new adventures on a daily basis, and entertaining people at night with a song is something that most of us would love to do, and here he is doing it.
The wandering troubadour aspect is tantalizing isn't it?
Anyway, the gig, yeah, the gig.
An easy raconteur Dick happily lefts Electric 6 at the door and mainly concentrated on the material from his solo album 'Destroy the Children'.
His run through of the songs illustrates that he is a songwriter of no little talent, and while some have dismissed his humorous approach to a song as on par with a low rent Tenacious D I would strongly disagree, and instead firmly push the argument that managing to insert some fun into a song doesn't make it comedic.
When you listen to him there's plenty of darkness alongside the sunshine and you would be pushed to name someone else who can deliver it so well.
He provides the audience with plenty of proof of this.
Songs like Mr Shadow and I Don't Speak French had me standing there trying to get the smile on my face under control before the muscles on my face had a mishap.
Brilliant material and it stand up alongside the best he has written throughout his career
Even the surprise inclusion in the set of Keane's 'Everybody's Changing' wasn't enough to derail the experience for me as it was quite frankly better than the original.
The gig was one that flew past.
A sure sign that it was an enjoyable one, and I'm pretty sure that everyone there will have been as equally impressed as I was and will be sure to acquire an Electric 6 ticket for November.
Maybe the full on Electric 6 gig could have the full on Tragic City Thieves in support.
Now that would be a gig that would require the ABC to check that the insurance for their roof is covered for acts of rock that could leave it blown off.

Highlight of the year may be a Glaswegian crowd chanting WE WANT DICK, WE WANT DICK, with no shame or explanation offered.
We should have taken the chant out on the street after the show and continued it long into the night.

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