Even a die-hard music lover sometimes needs to take a break from gig-going and last week, after a busy fortnight at Perth Festival of the Arts and The Big Weekend, I took a bit of a musical time out. So, this week’s review was an opportunity to reflect on the best Perth gigs I’ve ever attended. The first one was the delightfully eccentric ‘Hugh Reed and The Velvet Underpants’ at the Twa Tams nearly 25 years ago. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Have a read and if you have a favourite Perth gig please let me know about it in the comments section below.
Dog Tired- Green Room 2015
My good friend Allan May still refers to Dog Tired’s amazing live set at The Green Room as the time things got ‘unexpectedly metal’. It was one of those nights that started as ‘just one pint' with a pub lunch at The Tams and ended with us headbanging, dripping with sweat, and screaming ‘wan mair tune’ at one of the best live bands we'd ever seen.
Until I saw the lads from Penicuik, I had always been a bit sniffy about heavy-metal. All metal songs seemed to be about long-forgotten English battles or goblins and all the spandex and hairspray just seemed a bit... well... Spinal Tap. Dog Tired though looked like Hells Angels, wore regular clothes and played a brand of metal that was both brutal and percussive. I’d never seen a band that played with such synchronicity. The drummer was like a metronome and the rest of the band played right on the beat. They were in town touring their 2015 album ‘Titan’ and I bought a signed copy at the end of the night. It’s a great album and anyone who loves bands like Pantera or Soulfly should seek it out.
Hugh Reed and The Velvet Underpants- Twa Tams 1994
Part theatre, part comedy and all rock n’ roll. This one is hard to beat. The Twa Tams in the 90’s was totally amazing for live music. You could pop out for a quick pint on a Saturday night and discover your new favourite band. The bonkers ‘Hugh Reed and The Velvet Underpants’ played there way back in 1994. They put on a live show that was part theatre, part comedy and all rock n’ roll. The Velvet Underpants were introduced by a camp Quentin Crisp style MC, who dealt with hecklers in quite a creative manner.
Hugh Reed hit the stage and I recognised him from the recently released Trainspotting. He was the guy in the nightclub scene who tries to hit on Kelly McDonald but she downs both their drinks and leaves with Renton. With funny, catchy songs, like ‘Six to Wan’ and ‘I’ve Just Had My Car Nicked’, they blew the roof of the place with their unique brand of Glaswegian punk-pop. The absolute highlight though was a quick change cover of Johnny Cash’s ’25 Minutes to Go’, replete with Hugh in a different outfit for every verse, a body-builder in a kilt and a midget breakdancing together. As I type that it sounds impossible, yet I’m almost certain it did actually happen. The 90’s were brilliant!
Steve Earle- Southern Fried 2014
I’ve seen a lot of great gigs at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival, but Steve Earle’s solo acoustic set is still my highlight. For a start, he had one of the greatest support acts I’ve ever seen in the form of up and coming country singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson. With a voice that made Waylon Jennings sound like George Formby, he electrified the audience with his version of ‘Medicine Springs’.
At the time of the gig, I’d just finished binge-watching ‘The Wire’ (Steve performed the Theme and acted in season five) on DVD, and it was weird to see Bubbles AA sponsor in concert. Earle continues the legacy of rebel country, pioneered by the likes of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. He thrilled the audience with acoustic versions of some of his greatest songs including ‘Copperhead Road’, ‘The Mountain’, and ‘My Old Friend the Blues’. What really made it special though was the between song banter, where he gave the story behind the songs he was playing. This summer Steve Earle is coming back to Perth, with his band The Dukes, as part of 2018’s Southern Fried. More info here.
Edwyn Collins- Perth Theatre
Edwyn Collins has been one of my favourite singers since I was 14 years old and I bought his song ‘If You Could Love Me’ on cd single. I even carved ‘Edwyn Collins is the future’ on a table in the common room at Perth High School with a compass. Just weeks later Edwyn’s song ‘Girl Like You’ went on to become a worldwide smash hit. Now, I’m not claiming that I’m some sort of musical Nostradamus, but there's this groovy little beat-combo from Liverpool called The Beatles that I have a good feeling about.
I even carved ‘Edwyn Collins is the future’ on a table in the common room at Perth High School with a compass. Collins suffered two cerebral haemorrhages in 2005, but with the love and support of his wife Grace Maxwell and his son William, he resumed his musical career just two years later. He released his first album of material recorded post-illness in 2010, with the tremendous ‘Losing Sleep’. It was around this time that I saw him playing at Perth Theatre and it remains my favourite gig to date. There was something really special about seeing my favourite singer, who at one stage I thought would never perform again, play live in an intimate setting just minutes walk from my house.
As well as playing tracks from his new album, we were treated to some of the best songs from his solo career and his band Orange Juice. ‘Rip it up’, ‘Falling and Laughing’ and ‘Girl Like You’ went down like gangbusters, and Edwyn played a few bars of ‘The Campaign for Real Rock’ when I requested it! I even stuffed the pockets of my coats with Edwyn Collins CD's, and my friend Ross and I waited in the Theatre bar after the gig in the hope that I could get them signed. I didn't. Oh well, chips then home.
Picture of Dog Tired Courtesy of Alan Swan Photography
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