The Pop Group / Sexual Objects - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sat 18 Jan 2014 (4 stars)

Mark Stewart, Gareth Sager and co return for an unlikely but inspired post-punk reunion

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The Pop Group / Sexual Objects - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sat 18 Jan 2014

Photo: Gavin Fraser

It may have been 33 years since The Pop Group, Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager's gang of punk-funk avant-provocateurs, last played Glasgow. But the wait was more than worth it at this unlikely but inspired Celtic Connections show that laid bare the roots of Bristol's influential post-punk melting pot of free jazz, funk and dub.

The night also formed part of the 20th anniversary of the similarly maverick Creeping Bent record label, hence the appearance of The Sexual Objects, the band formed by ex-Fire Engine Davy Henderson following on from his previous band, The Nectarine No 9, with whom Pop Group guitarist Sager played and recorded with.

While all bar one of The Sexual Objects are time-served Nectarines, their opening gambit tonight goes back even further, to Henderson and guitarist Simon Smeeton's post-Fire Engines project, Win, with a cover of that band's heroic 'You've Got the Power'. Stripped of its 1980s studio gloss, here the song more resembles the Velvet Underground on Live '69, breathing extra edge into a song that matches bassist and Creeping Bent supremo Douglas MacIntyre's Warhol-striped and be-shaded ensemble to boot.

This is followed by recent single, 'Feels Like Me' and a fantastically louche preview of material from the the Objects' long-awaited second album. Songs like 'CC Blooms' casts Auld Reekie as its own self-mythologised Big Apple, while a progtastic instrumental wig-out reveals them as rock and roll animals at their glam peak. With the opening squall of a synthesiser played by Sager with libertine abandon, The Pop Group launch into the opening 'We Are All Prostitutes', accompanied by the sort of deranged commitment that would scare most younger groups to death. Clutching lyric sheets to his chest, Stewart looms righteously as he shrieks a form of warped Brechtian agit-prop into the microphone. Sager's slash and burn guitar work and electronically treated clarinet playing are equally incendiary, no more so than on the band's still dangerous debut single, ‘She Is Beyond Good and Evil’.

For all the fervent soothsaying there's a warmth too, which musically comes through the skewed Fourth World rhythms of drummer Bruce Smith and bassist Dan Catsis, while a young second guitarist puts further flesh on the bones of necessary dissent. Stewart pays tribute to fellow travellers The Slits, whose late singer Ari Up's own last Glasgow appearance was on the same stage, and dedicates ‘Colour Blind’ to Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis, another fallen contemporary.

Sager shows off some neat foot as well as fretwork on the warped Chic-isms of 'Where There's a Will', while the closing 'We Are Time' possesses the urgency of a 1960s cop show theme before veering off somewhere darker, closing a set designed to inspire a very visible form of insurrection.

Win -You've got the power{extended version}

We are all prostitutes - The pop group

The Pop Group / She's beyond Good and Evil

The Pop Group

Mixing free jazz, dub and funk with the urgency and ferocity of punk the influential Bristol post-punk quartet reunite.

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