Malcolm Middleton - Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Mon 29 Apr 2013 (4 stars)

Malcolm Middleton - Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Mon 29 Apr 2013

Photo: Stephanie Gibson

Guitarist in his element marking reissue of brutally despondent debut album

’I have to apologise in advance,’ says Malcolm Middleton, ‘for being slick and so well-rehearsed.’ His tour opener, coming before bad habits of the road kick-in and soon after the ex-Arab Strap guitarist’s SAY award nomination for his release under the Human Don’t Be Angry guise, there’s good reason to fear being short-changed here for uncharacteristic professionalism and cheer. But all soon transpires to be in normal, hilariously dour, order. ‘This is shit, that is shit, and being shit is great,’ he grumps on ‘Total Belief’. A new number, ‘By Proxy Song’, reveals a cynical plan for career longevity: ‘Frankly I’m going to have to take a dip in form so the next thing looks better.’

Tonight marks a reissue of his 2002’s 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine - Middleton’s brutally despondent gem of a debut album. He plays most of it, to his sometimes evident displeasure - he visibly winces during ‘Cold Winter’ at his younger self’s suicidal lyricism. But laughing with Middleton through the bad times is the essence of his idiosyncratic appeal, and for all the gloom, he’s clearly in his element tonight - otherwise why would he still be on stage going-on two hours, rattling-off everything from ‘Red Travelling Socks’ to ‘King of Bring’? ‘9, 10, 11, 12, beginning to like myself,’ runs a line in another 5:14... track dug out on request, ‘1, 2, 3, 4’. We’re way ahead of you mate.

Malcolm Middleton King Of Bring

Malcolm Middleton

Ex-Arab Strap guitarist Middleton, wallows in his own miserable life to curiously uplifting effect.