Friday, August 27, 2004

Family values


Sons & Daughters are the sort of band for whom the staple gig sound of clattering and shattering bottles is the perfect accompaniment. Adele Bethel (vocals / guitar / keys) and David Gow (drums) are members of the Arab Strap live set-up, and it shows. They take the red-raw blues riffage of labelmates The Kills and weave it with rockabilly rhythms into a distinctively Scottish form that also hints at folk and The Delgados, with whom they'll soon be touring.

Guitarist / vocalist Scott Paterson howls and hops around the stage like a coiled spring, while mandolin and bass player Ailidh Lennon obeys that key unwritten rule of rock 'n' roll - if you can't really play, then just look good on stage, and she's impeccably cool, swaying gently on the spot like one of Robert Palmer's robotic backing band.

They're obviously still finding their feet, but as soon as 'Broken Bones' is out of the way - as the one track which most of the crowd know following its appearance on the recent NME covermount CD showcasing the Domino roster, it already feels like a bit of an albatross - they hit a deliciously sweet spot. 'Blood' and new single 'Johnny Cash' slope past before they ratchet things up once again for a finale which feels like being strangled with a rattlesnake - well, they say asphyxiation heightens pleasurable sensations... What is it with Glasgow? There's something in the Buckfast, I swear.

The last time I saw the evening's headliners proper The Fiery Furnaces, at Rock City last November, my response, like that of the majority of a crowd assembled to see Hot Hot Heat and Franz Ferdinand, was predominantly one of bafflement. This time around it was rather different.

When they take to the stage, it's neither Eleanor Friedberger nor her brother Matt who first attract the eye, even though Eleanor is sporting a rather fetching lilac cummerbund (destined to be the latest must-have fashion accessory for the Karen O set?). No, the star is hyperactive drummer Andy Knowles, who, with his multicoloured striped jacket and trilby hat looks like a cross between Pete Doherty and Sylvester McCoy's Dr Who.

What happens next is anyone's guess. The four piece career and crash through song after song without pause for breath, and I stand gobsmacked at the awesome intensity of it all, foremost in my mind the thought, "They do this EVERY NIGHT?!!". It starts with 'My Dog Was Lost But Now It's Found', and 'South Is Only A Home', 'Single Again', 'Don't Dance Her Down', 'Blueberry Boat', 'Bright Blue Tie' and 'Tropical Iceland' are all in there somewhere, gleaming pearls of surrealist blues thrown out before the mulleted swine, while snatches and snippets of songs apparently discarded earlier creep back into the set. The encore's something of a disappointment in that respect, the songs conventionally separated from one another.

The quirky imagination of Pavement, the barely contained chaos of The Libertines, a touch of The Violent Femmes, searing garage guitar and end-of-the-pier organ... There's no-one quite like them, and no way of doing them justice in words. They are undeniably brilliant, though.

I know I should give it a try on record, but frankly I'm worried it just won't work.

Red Organ Serpent Sound don't make it onto the stage until around 1am. Looking like half The Dwarves and half Kings Of Leon, they start promisingly enough - the freaky Cramps-like B-movie punk arrests attention especially when performed by a bloke wearing a red stocking over his head, a top hat and a boxing glove. But then it all goes horribly wrong as the stocking coming off coincides with a couple of very duff straight-faced Strokes pastiches, and it's evident they've been trying far too hard to be weird and are cruelly shown up by appearing on the same bill as The Fiery Furnaces. No-one's interested anymore, least of all me.

(Thanks to Mike on whose suggestion I went along.)

Kilian Murphy reviews The Fiery Furnaces' Gallowsbird's Bark.
Josh Love reviews The Fiery Furnaces' forthcoming LP Blueberry Boat.

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