Viv Albertine - Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Saturday 5 Nov (4 stars)

Viv Albertine - Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Saturday 5 Nov

Musically and emotionally raw 'secret' show from former Slits guitarist


Former Slits guitarist Viv Albertine may only be checking her sound levels, but her one word opening gambit sets out her store for the artistic splurge that’s to follow. Within seconds Albertine is relating how she thinks about sex all the time but doesn’t believe in love; about how her seventeen-year long marriage broke down after she picked up her Telecaster guitar for the first time in years; about how her first band, The Flowers of Romance, formed with Slits drummer Palm Olive and future Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (on saxophone, no less!) used to rehearse in Joe Strummer’s squat.

Pedigree? Without Albertine and fellow Slit Ari Up, who passed away in 2010, sisters doing it for themselves from Riot Grrrl to Muscles of Joy would never have happened.

Slotting in this late-night ‘secret’ show on the back of her mini Scottish tour and accompanied only by the aforementioned Tele and a floor-load of FX boxes, Albertine’s brand of candid confessional takes no prisoners. With her hair up and sporting a fitted red velvet jacket and shiny shirt purloined from a Broughton Street vintage emporium, she turns the idea of self-consciously wimpy male troubadourism on its head with a set that’s both musically and emotionally raw.

With titles like 'Never Come' and 'Couples Are Creepy', Albertine is laying herself as bare as she dares in a post break-up purging that’s eerily provocative and demonstratively empowering. If at times one suspects the lady doth protest too much, it’s still pretty jaw-dropping. Having released the Flesh EP on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label, and with an album forthcoming featuring a different bassist on each song (Jack Bruce, Jah Wobble and Tina Weymouth have all contributed thus far), it should be worth getting along early to the forthcoming dates by The Damned to see how Albertine fares as big-stage support. Anyone who can finish a set with a song called 'Confessions of A MILF' should have those kohl-eyed punk boys running very scared indeed.

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