Gig: Nalle / Tattie Toes / Wooden Box – Glasgow, Mono, 12/08/2007

After last week’s drenching it was good to see something indoors. Wooden Box is actually a solo singer/songwriter plus guitar, adopting the recent tradition of solo artists giving themselves band names. Singers with guitars are everywhere these days, laying bare their souls. It’s hard to get too annoyed with them because, by and large, they are inoffensive. But they are like bloggers – convinced everybody wants to hear their opinions/feelings. Before I lapse completely into self-parody, I’ll just say that he was OK. Chilled but not twee. His song about Oban was nice, but a bit chocolate boxy. He’s obviously not spent too much time in the town.

There seemed quite a crowd in to see Tattie Toes. Dreadful name, and an incredibly annoying band. They lined up bass, violin, drums and vocals and musically had some good ideas, with some good grooves established at times. But they are one of those bands that mistakes being wacky for experimentalism. The singer had a good set of pipes, but was continuously putting on silly voices. There was a nice track when the drummer played concertina, and many of the songs had good moments – usually when the singer sang straight or zipped it. They got an encore which made me wonder if my ears needed servicing.

Nalle were just great. The set wasn’t too different to the last time I saw them at the Panopticon. Indeed, neither was its execution. It’s strange that a trio based in Glasgow, with surnames of Hladowski, Tuulikki and Vulliamy, and whose instruments include the bouzouki,  sound so English, but they do. By that, I mean the England of Francis Childe (I know he was American), Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams – of ballads set beneath the greenwood tree. It’s not folk music in the real ale and beards sense, but something that seems to connect with the spirit of rural England. On the surface they are worlds apart, but Nalle definitely have echoes of the likes of the Copper Family and the Watersons, even though their concerns seem much more elemental and focussed on the natural world rather than serving maids and jolly ploughmen. Hanna has a breathtaking voice, but it’s when she sings in harmony with Chris and Aby that the real magic happens.

Downer was the couple of tables of Glasgow’s self-styled scenesters who thought their conversation was much more interesting to the room than whatever was happening on stage. It’s a question that has vexed me all my life, but why do people pay money for a ticket to see a band, only to talk all the way through the set? Are they just there to be seen, or are they so insecure that they are terrified that if they stop talking everyone will ignore them and they will have to face their futile existence alone? Who knows – but they are fucking annoying.


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