Friday, June 11, 2010

Glasgow gave a rousing send off to an honorary citizen of its musical community last night. In the true tradition of the man that it celebrated there was a looseness in the house and aside from featuring Alex’s own compositions, equal billing was given to the human jukebox element of his work and how he liked to introduce covers, that could – in the end – have been his own. He was a deep miner of forgotten gems. Like The Cramps, I imagine that could have been part of the attraction in them coming together way back whenever.

To my mind, Chilton never “mailed it in”. the closest I ever came to seeing him do that was the Big Star reunion at QMU. Every other time, and there were many, you went away having really felt privileged to having been given a lesson in popular (and not so) music history. He had a long and chequered career on either side of what he gets most kudos for. I think that what may people miss is the character and he was alive yesterday evening through stories related from the stage. I know for a fact that a few of these guys could do a season of spoken word shows on the tales.

There was no Panther Burns or indeed “Bangkok”. Perhaps in retrospect, The Primevals would have been able to do something with that but then the show would have had to be even longer, and I feel like a burst ball as it is. It did cross my mind too that ideally The Nomads would have been on hand. Short of it is that the assembled artists pulled off what they set to do, with no small amount of gusto.

First up was Milk. I’ve no idea who they are but they tackled “Human Fly” and in this setting it was fine. Their version of “The Letter” vexed me a bit by making me remember the name Blue Rondo A La Turk, before it disappeared down The Gaslight Anthem’s idea of E- Street. Before long, a nervous Francis Macdonald kicked off with “Margie” and did a great version of a Frederick Knight song that I’d never heard called “Claim To Fame”, based on Lx’s version from “Live At Chalen”.

The reconstituted V-Twin were really smokin’ with a little Ernie K Doe action, a version of “Hey Little Child” that had a Gun Club-like intensity and the anthem known as “In The Street”. In my head I was screaming “We’re All Allright” as it came to a close.

There was an intermission where some video clips were shown. Hot Chip sent up some songs specially for the bash and an amazing clip of “Never Found A Girl” of Alex and Teenage Fanclub from some TV show called “Up On The Roof”. STV or BBC? I don’t recall that at all. Probably 1995-ish? Anyway, Duglas told me it’ll be on Youtube soon and you’ll see it for yourself. The way it nestles into “A Summer Place” is spine-tingling.

It was a pleasure to meet Laura Chilton. She told me that she came to Glasgow to see what Alex loved about it and I think she knows now. Laura recited a version of “Past, Present and Future” with accompaniment from David Scott plus Duglas, Jason and Mike. A lo-fi industrial symphony with a Lynch frisson.

The Pearlfishers/BMX Bandits portion was when Davie got to tell his Rockin’ Sidney story and to perform "Thirteen". Duglas delivered an amazingly poignant “Thank You Friends”. Forensic verbiage at this point seems meaningless, you had to be there. A straight off the plane Stevie Jackson performed Hoagy Carmichael’s “Memphis in June” and a rousing “Alligator Man” abetted by Francis. The TFC portion was charged with no small amount of electricity. Being that they were entirely responsible for any of this route of history being taken. They are the blue touch paper that allowed so many of us to become so familiar with the subject. It’s a strange world and in this case, for all the right reasons.

Jason did The Olympics “Mine Exclusively” with the Fanclub and declared it to be “like Booker T and the MGs”. There is no bigger keeper of the flame in these parts than this guy. He put this revue together, most likely with some input from his spiritual brother from the other side.
One last hurrah was a run though “September Gurls” that was positively incandescent. Several leagues better than the version that the reconstituted BS ran through at that Glasgow show I mentioned earlier. It took me back to that version of "Telstar" in Glassford Street and the soul-saving nature of loud guitars.

It was a triumph on the part of all concerned and something that could only have happened in Glasgow. Take a look at some great photos here and here. And the setlist and some videoclips can be found on the TFC board. It was abuzzbuzzbuzz with activity before I left for the salt mine this morning. God bless 'em.