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THE MAGIC NUMBERS / M. CRAFT / MISTY’S BIG ADVENTURE – Glasgow Barrowlands 5/10/05

Posted: October 6th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

Evil. Funny how attractive it is when you’re not the victim, at least in it’s more dramatic forms. Enough too keep the horror movie and serial killer book industries quite comfortably afloat, anyway. It’s even more potent still when it’s pretending to be its own polar opposite, though not hiding so well that we can’t spot it and pat ourselves on the back for being savvy enough to see through it, while still being affected by the contrast.

Misty’s Big Adventure have a song called “Evil.” (Look – the point! At last!) It’s introduced as being about GW Bush and his cronies. Ho-hum, so what? Bush is a cock, and it’s not like anyone really needs it pointing out any more. But what would otherwise be fairly inconsequential indie-pop tunes that can only snipe at easy targets they know everyone in the house will agree with (Because, yeah, discos are rubbish, aren’t they?) are saved by a vein of the black stuff which hints at something far nastier. Of course, the creepy Bez-as-satanic-clown character they have jumping about and beatboxing while covered in blue paint and rubber gloves might have something to do with that. (One has to wonder what a Top of the Pops appearance would be like, given the fuss over The Magic Numbers and the fact that they – shock! – have a few extra pounds on them.) But even taken on a purely musical basis, there’s something ever so slightly wrong about this band, but it’s this wrongness that makes them good.

But there is an evil that is any many ways worse than anything hinted at by Misty’s. “Big” evil – the sort that bombs civilians – tends swoop into your life and fuck it up in a sudden and devastating way. It’s awful, but at least it’s quick, and you are usually aware of it when it happens. Far more insidious are life’s many subtle, everyday evils – commercials for hair products, soul-crushing office jobs, ITV sitcoms – that slowly grind us down and leave us dull and soulless before we’ve even noticed. It gets under your skin and seeps out your pores and affects those around you as well. It’s this far more awful evil that seems to have gotten to M.Station. The usual sensitive white boys with guitars (and white girl with keyboard and xylophone, though they were so low in the mix it’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that she’s only in the band as eye-candy), the majority of their set had already faded from memory a few moments after they left the stage. Undoubtedly competent, but dreadfully dreadfully unexciting.

But of course everyone’s here for The Magic Numbers, and here they are with their happy songs about love and stuff. Woo! Yay! This is sunny pop music that it’s ok for indie kids to like. And that’s fine. They’re good at it. A reaffirmation of pop’s ecstatic and redemptive qualities. The crowd loved it. Drunk girls sang along at the top of their lungs. The forces of darkness were exorcised from the room. Hooray! Everyone was delighted, except possibly a few miserable old gits like me who have spent too much time sitting about listening to grim depressing music that we just don’t have the palette for something quite so sweet and innocent. But even if you spend every minute of the rest of your life listening to awful tuneless dirges made by beating the carcasses of dead dogs, you’re never immune to the power of a catchy hook. And you have to admit, The Numbers have one or two of those.

It could be argued that it’s only really in a live context that The Magic Numbers make sense. Their jolliness makes them seem like genuine children’s party entertainers, rather than sinister clowns, and as such they are exactly right for the depressingly interesting times in which we live.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a dead dog to mic-up.

The Magic Numbers
Music For Ears (Home of M.Craft)
Misty’s Big Adventure

Alex McChesney

Alex was brought up by a family of stupid looking monkeys after being lost in the deep jungles of Paisley. Teaching him all their secret conga skills (as well as how to throw barrels at plumbers), Alex was able to leave for the bright lights of Glasgow where adventure struck him and he needed all his conga skills to save the world and earn the hand of a lovely Texan princess. He now keeps a low profile alphabeticising his record collection and making sock monkeys in the likenesses of his long lost family.


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