Live review: The Dandy Warhols, Old Fruitmarket, Wed 29 Jan
- Craig Angus
- 31 January 2019
Frustrating as hell, occasionally brilliant, the Dandy's do things their own way on 25th anniversary tour
After headlining at Mono in November, Juniore are back to open things up at The Old Fruitmarket, singer Anna Jean dropping a 'bonsoir' on arrival to remind us we're in the presence of some extremely cool French pop stars. Well two, and someone in a Donnie Darko style mask, blasting surf style guitar riffs from a fender telecaster. The disguise is explained away with a 'this is our thing'. No kidding. It seems an unnecessary distraction from a set that frequently recalls Stereolab and Broadcast. They close on the excellent 'A la Plage' from their self-titled 2016 effort, a sun-kissed treat for a cold January night, three minutes of lush dream pop.
No fancy dress with The Dandy Warhols, unless you're counting guitarist Peter Holmström's trilby. The Portland band are celebrating their 25th anniversary of being a band, a career still best known for the ubiquitous Vodafone driven success of 'Bohemian Like You', and DIG – that most astonishing of rockumentaries. That longevity is down to a brilliant run of underrated singles that have stood the test of time, and a consistent stream of playful albums that don't reinvent the wheel but are entertaining genre exercises nonetheless. It's not down to the Dandy's being a great live band. It's hard to, hand on heart, even call them a good live band tonight.
The problem in Glasgow partially lies with the sound quality, which is all over the place. Courtney Taylor-Taylor's vocals, often reduced to a whisper anyway, are inaudible for half of the set. When Zia McCabe takes lead on the rollicking country tinged 'Highlife', from new album Why You So Crazy?, there's the same issue. It's less important for the likes of opener 'Forever', another new track, where Taylor's distorted drawl adds texture rather than punch, but it hampers 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth' (one of those aforementioned four-chord bangers that's as addictive as it was two decades ago) and it stunts 'Get Off', although it still gets a mass singalong – yes, even that "hot diggity dog" lyric that so perplexed the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe in DIG.
Even when the sound problems are fixed, tonight's show is frustrating as hell, a low-energy shrug of a performance occasionally interrupted by an adrenaline rush. The production reduces the band to silhouettes for 90% of the show, just outlines standing stationary for the most part, only McCabe – tambourine in hand, hollering – outwardly exhibits any passion or enthusiasm. The hits are the saving grace, but there's a lot of wading through protracted waves of muddy shoegaze and dull krautrock to get there. 'Plan A' and 'The Last High' from the synth-heavy Welcome To The Monkey House are greeted like old friends, the former given a cool Velvet Underground style makeover. The brass led 'Godless' and the inevitable 'Bohemian Like You' sparkle. At the request of a vociferous fan at the front, 'Hard On For Jesus' gets an airing – it's simple, dumb and brilliant.
For the penultimate 'Everyday Should Be A Holiday', some 25th birthday balloons suspended from the ceiling are released into the crowd but – hilariously – the song needs to be be restarted. Taylor-Taylor's been playing the wrong chord for 30 seconds. He laughs it off. The band laugh it off. It's an oddly sweet moment; a timely reminder that the business of rock and roll, at this level, in The Dandy Warhols' world certainly, is preposterous; the posturing, the gimmicks, the balloons, the constant references to weed. Sometimes the big finale goes to shit, and yeah, all you can do is laugh. The Dandy Warhols don't care. It might be their secret weapon.
The Dandy Warhols played as part of Celtic Connections, which runs till 3 Feb.