Jonnie Common - Mono, Glasgow, Sun 27 Nov 2011
Triumphant show from the skilled electronica musician and friends
In August Jonnie Common, founder of the now defunct trio Down the Tiny Steps, released his debut album Master of None. In real terms, the event passed without a great deal of fanfare and yet critical acclaim was heaped upon Common by those lucky and astute enough to give it a listen.
It's easy to see why. A truly inspired collection of electro-acoustica-pop tunes, Master of None is an instant classic of the genre – although in Common's hands the genre is delightfully nebulous – destined to be slow burned towards greatness. Released on respected but small budget Manchester label Red Deer Club Records – home of the enchanting Liverpool psych-folk trio Stealing Sheep – it simply doesn't have the marketing machine behind it to get there any quicker.
This might go some way to explaining why the crowd at the launch of a limited addition remix of the album – called Hair of the Dog – was appreciative but thin. Comprising DJ sets from FOUND and The Japanese War Effort, live sets from GRNR, Dems and Ben Butler & Mousepad – with Common as curator – it featured half of the acts who contributed remixes to the album.
Also on display was a series of prints by the Glasgow illustrator and graphic designer David Galletly, who provided the artwork for the albums; and an interactive sound installation created by Common and sustainable design company Zero Waste Design, which allows users to mix the elements of Master of None themselves.
Billed as 'a whole weekend of showing off', there was a strong sense of showmanship to the whole event, something that's so often missing from music that, well, largely involves twiddling stuff, albeit it in a highly skilled way.
Common is an engaging personality whose flair for the quirky and playful comes across on stage as strongly as it does on record. Joining the Stereolab-influenced GRNR for the dazzling 'Bed Bugs', a mash up of guitar, electronica and brass, Common performed his unique accent-inflected spoken word-rap. His voice, unassuming in tone, is a wonderfully versatile instrument: rhythmically precise and thrusting, although on this occasion the lyrics failed to cut through the general cacophony.
London-based Dems (who contributed the 'Infinitea' remix) followed with a short but succinct set of their trademark soulful electronic pop layered with utterly heartbreaking melodies. The evening was brought to a crushing, pulsating close by Ben Butler & Mousepad (maker of Common's 'Hand-Hand' remix).
Common returned to the stage, a ball of energy, effusive in his praise for his collaborators and brimming with an infectious confidence and enthusiasm for the project. Long may it continue.