The Filthy Tongues, The Reaktors, the Diamond Age – the Joiners, Southampton
Scottish Hell-fire Preacher-man and his band lays waste to the South of England. Ged Babey calls for a witness.
The Circus of Horrors was in town, -at the Guildhall – so a thousand odd people were there when some of them should have been seeing the finest Scots Gothic at the Joiners. Their loss.
People of a certain age remember Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – because Big Jon from the Exploited was in them, as was the young Shirley Manson. They were a band who never grabbed me to be honest and I can’t really tell you why. The Filthy Tongues are three of GMM and are now veterans and suit middle-age well and make music to match. Dark, melodic melancholy with an edge and a sneer. They are Gothic without the obvious connotations. It’s there in the lyrics, the storytelling and the atmosphere rather than being off-the-peg Goth tack.
The local support acts didn’t really fit to be frank. The Diamond Age have been around for some time and make clear-eyed, spritely indie-pop with an air of intelligence but a clean guitar sound which takes me personally back to 1980 and the Boy-era U2. (Not somewhere I’d choose to go!) When they veer into disco it just brings to mind Franz Ferdinands first album … but I reserve judgement for now as I know the Diamond Age rose from the ashes of a near legendary band called Dead! Dead! Dead! who I completely missed out on.
White-van-man punks The Reaktors played probably as well as they ever have. Massive guitar sound from Rollie. Vocalist Brian hides behind shades and insists on shouting Oi! Oi! between songs. The band are tight and rock-solid but… It is a “post-IDLES thing”, not just Reaktors but every old-school punk-inspired band like them… IDLES make them seem lacking and old-fashioned by comparison. I’m not saying they should cartwheel around the stage and attempt to ‘copy’ Talbot and co – that would be foolish, but they seem too traditionalist and in a rut to me. That said, Guilty Heart came over as their best song in a Buzzcocks meets Crazy Horse kind of style and a rousing chorus of Let’s Kick the Tories Out is always good to hear.
Frontman and guitarist with the Filthy Tongues, Martin Metcalfe, is a mean-looking motherfucker in his wide-brimmed hat and shades – he looks like he’s walked off the pages of a comic-strip about a Southern Baptist Hellfire Preacher hell-bent on something nasty! The band favour a look which is part Bad Seeds part Russian Naval officer and it’s cool, Beats jeans and t-shirt any day.
An eternity is spent fiddling about with amps and getting the sound just-so. The Tongues are one of those perfectionist bands, but in their case, it’s worth the wait. They sound huge and magnificent. A high-decibel Ennio Morricone western vibe with a bass-heavy sound. It’s a huge cliche I know but it is cinematic and dramatic stuff.
I’m transported back to the mid-80’s when the Sisters of Mercy had a similar feel and dark, enigmatic presence onstage. Shows were an all-consuming performance. Ritualistic but knowingly so with a wry sense of humour. The Filthy Tongues have the same appearance of taking-themselves-far-too-seriously.
Unlike a lot of gigs I go to I hadn’t listened to much of their back-catalogue at all. I trusted the recommendation of my Scots friends. Consequently ever song sounded fresh and great, no let-up, no flagging, just perfect song after perfect song. I got a set-list, eleven songs, opening with near-instrumental Nae Tongues. Lepertown and Long Time Dead give vital clues to the content. Death, revenge and hard-times seem to be the themes…
I loved every second of the Filthy Tongues; originality, presence, flair, great music made by a band out on their own. Scots Gothic. Cinematic Rock, call it want you want, but they are class…
The Filthy Tongues website
The Reaktors Facebook
The Diamond Age Facebook
All words Ged Babey
Photo by Michele Wille for Michele Paul Photography