Live Reviews

  The Ex Men, Mammals, Born By Wires live at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow

Must look up what an Indian summer is as I’m sure it will be better than a Glasgow summer that seems to consist of the rain using guerrilla tactics to soak the populace when they least expect it. Caught not once but thrice by the weather, I began to think that a political statement was being made. Either that or the black cloud of doom was following me around again.

Providing the shelter from the elements on this damp Saturday night was the Captain’s Rest and solace was sought in the company of The Ex Men, Mammals and Born By Wire.  Time for some words on Mammals then? Damn right it is!

Three young guys in a band is common. Three young guys playing angular guitar pop is not unusual either. Three young guys playing agitated, angular guitar pop with verve and skill is, however, distinctly uncommon. Reminiscent of bands like the Fire Engines in their ability to maintain tight rhythmic control whilst indulging in moments of deconstruction (and even Badalamenti style interludes), Mammals struck the right chord with both me and the audience.

Time for a stylistic right turn as The Ex Men (now signed to Flowers in the Dustbin) powered up their quirky electro groove. Quirky pretty much covers things as front man Jack Sims and his nervous looking sidekick unleashed a deranged mish-mash of middle class rebellion, a nice education, free form poetry, stabbing guitar and a beige suit to fill the room with the aural equivalent of Gallic cigarette smoke. Yes folks – Gauloise cool is back in town.

I could write a book. No, really. I could write a book on the unusual people that I meet when I’m out doing the reviewing thing. Bizarre conversation follows – this woman tells me about the robotic cat that her parents bought her for Christmas. Why would anyone make a robotic cat anyway? I can’t see real cats taking kindly to such computerised competition. Then it occurs to me that since medieval times, witches have had cats as familiars. Maybe a robotic cat is just more appropriate to the needs of 21st century witches?

Born By Wires proved something of a surprise. I had done a bit of research and was expecting something ambient like an ethereal take on the Cocteau Twins. Instead, a transformation had occurred – maybe that is what you get when you replace electronics with a real band – and Born By Wires became hybrid post rockers with occasional flashes of the Glasgow disease of indie rock. On the plus side however, was the over the top dramatic persona of singer Sarah who mixed Kate Bush style stage moves with a near Shakespearean approach to the lyrics. Then she ran off stage and returned with a robotic cat that she placed front stage. Whilst not as musically satisfying as I had hoped for, Born By Wires nonetheless gave a captivating performance.  Of course, I could just have been under the influence of a spell…

Review Date: August 21 2010