Gig: The Vaselines / Emma Pollock (Glasgow, Mono, 24/4/2008)

Led Zeppelin at the O2? Pink Floyd at Live8? Pah!

Tonight at Mono saw a one-off reunion of indie legends the Vaselines. It was all in aid of a charity helping orphans in Malawi which Frances McKee’s sister is involved with. And it was all very hush-hush, billed simply as Emma Pollock, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee. But everybody kind of knew what was going to transpire.

McKee and Kelly both warmed up with short solo spots of four or five songs apiece. In between, author Alan Bissett read a new extract from a forthcoming book which dealt with living in the shadow of the giant petro-chemical complex at Grangemouth, and the accident that injured his father and killed two of his colleagues. Unlike most authors I’ve seen read their stuff, Bissett has the charisma and confidence to make people want to listen – even the legendarily talkative indie glitterati of Glasgow (out in force tonight).

There was also a poet, whose name I didn’t catch. His angry polemics against the Iraq War seemed out of place. In truth, they would’ve bored an anti-war demo.

“Good evening”, snapped Emma Pollock, “that’s code for shut the fuck up”. She should have known better. Playing with a full band, she struggled to make much of an impact. The songs are similar but different to the Delgados fare. Less edgy, but less lush too. None managed to lodge in my head.

The chattering stopped when McKee and Kelly returned to the stage with various Belle and Sebastians in tow. Apologizing that they’d had to relearn all the songs, they were much much better than any group who’ve been out of action for nearly two decades had any right to be. A short and sweet ‘greatest hits’ set followed – “The Day I Was A Horse”, “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”, “Monsterpussy”, “Molly’s Lips”, “Son of a Gun”, and their brilliant cover of Divine’s “You Think You’re a Man” all present and correct. Wonderful stuff that left the whole crowd grinning from ear to ear.

A special night.

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