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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Pere Ubu - Mono - 17/04/13 (Glasgow)

Review one - It seems that Pere Ubu have always had a pathological fear of genre boxes.
Trying to pin them down is akin to punching smoke.
Even the much promoted avant-garde label, while apt, probably has them feeling uncomfortable.
Pere Ubu are really just Pere Ubu, and it's probably best to leave it at that.
If you can't do that then I suppose if you need to frame them in some sort of context, then consider them the aural equivalent of the Rubik's cube.
One whose squares change colours at random intervals.
Just when you think you may have got to grips with it, you haven't, and you never will.

However it's this side stepping of the conventional, and unwillingness to participate in delivering on preconceived ideas, that draws people to them.
Those who are willing to go with the flow, and in Huxley speak open the doors of perception, will more often than not come away from witnessing the band with an enjoyable retrospective view, even if they aren't sure why.

One certainty is that the music fans of Glasgow were open to embracing whatever David Thomas was wanting to offer them in Mono.

There was the odd bemused expression on some faces, and that's understandable as there's a lot not to get, but over all Pere Ubu came and did exactly what most people thought that they would, and that was deliver the unexpected.

Equally about the music as it was about the surreal delivery of anecdotal fantasies that were framed as missives from an alternative universe, the set flowed along with anarchic glee - albeit promoted in a dismissive manner from Thomas himself.
And it really needs to be said that there is an aspect to the band that certainly shouldn't work.
The rhythm section is that of a solid rock band, the guitar flows from the rock and roll territory to wherever it is sonically needed, while the synths dally with the warehouse and electro love, and then theremin is........well the theremin is everywhere, and all of these seemingly disparate angles are held together by David Thomas whose vocals anchor everything together.
Nothing makes much sense when written down on paper, but the actual experience is a whole different matter.
There's still not a lot of sense to it, but enough for us all to cling to if we are up for being taken along for the ride.

Musically the band are to an extent inviting you into a painting by Escher.
If you close your eyes and refrain from thinking about it too much then there's solid ground beneath your feet, but focus hard on it all and the shifting rhythms and directions the music takes can leave you discombobulated and out of kilter with your surrounding.

I guess that's really the deal.
Don't try and understand it, just feel it.

I had the fear prior to the show that I would come away from it with my love of Pere Ubu dented.
The ghost of the dismal Suicide show in London that I had witnessed hung like a shadow in the back of my mind whispering that 'a disaster is looming', but this was a show that was the polar opposite, and rather than take anything away from the legend that is Pere Ubu, the performance simply added a great deal to it.

I'm personally glad that the show was in the confines of a small club as alternative environment would have diluted the experience.
One to chalk down as 'you had to be there'.


Review two 

Theremin for a goood time (Or Living Legend Mans the Merchandise table)

They chose our town, and for that we are grateful.
In front of a clearly appreciative crowd David Thomas, frailty, mobility issues and all, hauled himself on to the low stage to absolutely deliver in blistering fashion.
Ubu, well drilled, tight as a duck's arse nailed it, and included what must be rock's hardest working theremin player (sidelining in ray gun).
The bulk of the set came from "Lady From Shanghai" with several well considered pieces from way back when including "The Modern Dance", peppered with self deprecating tales from Ubu would- after "Thanks", "I hate that song"- produce much laughter throughout.
Much affection from audience, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one there surprised to see the band both selling merchandise and undertaking van loading duties.
I mean, THIS IS PERE UBU. The legend that is David Thomas. Maybe it's the way and will of the world.
I'm still glad they chose our town.

(Craig White)

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