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Posted: April 29th, 2002, by Marceline Smith

So, Sunday then. First stop of the day was the Glasgow Film Theatre to see the Cinematic Orchestra playing a live soundtrack to the film Man With A Movie Camera, a silent black and white documentary filmed in the 1920s. It’s certainly something that should be done more often as I found it really exciting having a band playing right in front of me with odd shadows of equipment poking into the corners of the film. The film started up silent showing the opening of a cinema and the people streaming in and sitting down with the orchestra preparing to play and when the onscreen orchestra started (silently, obviously) the real Cinematic Orchestra started playing. That was my favourite bit really. Not that the rest of it was a letdown, the band managing to compliment the images without ever trying to outdo them. Advertised as a jazz collective and playing for the most part jazz, they did also have a dj/electronic element which I particularly enjoyed, bringing in samples of strings and the odd bit of scratching. The film was a marvel though and a real document of its time [1920s Russia]. It was almost as if they’d attempted to document absolutely everything that ever happens around them so we got the whole scope of local people at work and play, marriage, death, birth, accident, sleep, travel, holidays but most interestngly for me all the workings of the factories and the trams and buses. It also had two different viewpoints: one man filming stuff and another one filming him dragging his camera around the most precarious places. Watching someone set up their camera on the outside of a very tall tower or in the depths of a mine was certainly fun. I don’t imagine I’ll ever need to see the film again but I hope to see this kind of event being repeated.

Intellectual culture fix over (only kidding) I went to see Arab Strap and Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai in a very nice church in the east end. I’d arranged to meet Chris in the old 13th Note and was struck with horror the minute I walked through the door. Gone were the scruffy locals with their sticky pints and spicy chips listening to unlistenable music on badly recorded cassettes. Instead it was full of trendy overenthusiastic girls holding drinks with straws while their boyfriends drank american branded beer. There was a fruit machine in the corner! The noticeboard promised a ‘new menu’, no doubt free of pesky vegan politics. That was the longest ten minutes of my life as I mourned the death of a place I loved more than any other. Look after your local venues people before you lose them. Once I manage to work out where the hell they’ve set up the new West 13th venture I shall be going to give them any spare money I have in return for sticky pints and badly recorded music.

But anyway, foul-mouthed scots performing in a church. How did they get that one past the vicar? At least they were all being relatively quiet, this being an acoustic show. Wee Stuart was up first, just him with his guitar and orange amp. He started with a cover and then worked his way beautifully through Mogwai’s vocal moments: Cody sounding lovely as always and Tuner bringing the usual tear to my eye. They should bring it back into the Mogwai live set now. Stuart was in his usual chuckling mood, slagging sponsors Tennants and giggling to himself. He attempted to sing a song by The Cure but gave up and shouted for Aidan Strap to come onstage and sing it with him which he did rather well. Then we got a medley of Take Me Somewhere Nice and Secret Pint with Stuart’s vocals sounding really confident and strong before he finished on a rather apt cover of Lord Can You Hear Me by Spacemen 3. Go the wee man.

I’ve now seen Arab Strap live three times, once as a fantastic rowdy bunch of fools, once as a rather dull keyboards and rant thing and now in a church with acoustic guitar, violin and cello, the odd battering from a drum machine and Aidan’s rueful tales of life. They were really rather stupendous, managing to be downbeat, funny, ramshackle and heartfelt all at the same time. They played lots of songs, most of which I didn’t recognise due to the fact that I appear to have never bought a single record by Arab Strap. I think I might rectify that soon. Free exclusive 5 track cd as well, available at an eBay near you soon.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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