23 September 2012
Live review ÃÂ
Marc Almond took to the stage in Glasgow last weekend and our man Joe Whyte was there to catch the show.ÃÂ
Mr Almond is not a particular fave of mine, but being the missus’ birthday and seeing as how she’s a long-time fan; I bit the bullet and tagged along. This, unfortunately, made me miss a rare performance from The Primevals, who are playing elsewhere tonight.
You know how it is. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
The ABC is a fairly cavernous venue and when it’s not jumping busy it can miss a bit of atmosphere. Tonight’s crowd are well up for the show but unfortunately not in great numbers. Almond played here about a year ago on his 30th Anniversary tour and perhaps this has had an impact on the turnout.
Given that Mr Almond has had the mentioned 30 years of output he has a lot of material to choose from. Tonight was a run through of his best known and best-loved songs.
Almond’s band includes former Sigue Sigue Sputnik guitarist Neil X. Having a foil such as this onstage brings out the best in the singer and Neil’s rockabilly/glam licks slide effortlessly into the set.
Despite his recovery from a near-fatal motorcycle accident a few years ago, Almond is looking sprightly and playful. He does perch stage centre on a stool for a couple of piano-accompanied Jacques Brel numbers but other than this he’s an engaging, charismatic figure.
Looking from the neutral sideline as it were, I’m given to wondering about the Marc Almond legacy. This is an artist with a huge body of work behind him, a man who has tasted chart success with Soft Cell and existed outwith the mainstream for many years, ploughing a single-minded furrow of his own design.
Despite this, Almond is not given the same level of kudos as say, Nick Cave or Depeche Mode, to name a couple of same-era artists.
Watching Almond rattle through the hits, it’s a possibility that he’s a victim of his own personality. There’s an element of camp throughout, which if removed, would probably alienate a chunk of his fanbase.
I wonder how his career might have progressed if the sugar coating was removed and he’d been a bit, y’know, nastier.
Almond has a chocolaty, rich voice and one cannot but admire the standard of his songwriting. From electro ballads through flamenco-inflected stompers via old-school crooners, he most definitely has the chops. His band are well-drilled and soulful, although the pianist stage right who I caught stifling yawns more than once needs to get to his bed at a reasonable hour.
Mother Fist sees the band all take solo spots and Neil X, we’re told, has been attending flamenco guitar lessons. He fires off flourishes of notes on his acoustic guitar that bring Barcelona to town.
Early solo hit Jackie sees accordion man Baby D off his seat and if not rocking out, swaying gently.
Following the obligatory run through of Tainted Love and Bedsitter, Almond leads the band through a blistering version of T-Rex’s Hot Love.
Again I’m left wondering. What if? I can just hear an album of rock music with Almond’s voice and Neil X’s guitar. Now that would be a proposition.
All words by Joe Whyte. You can read more from Joe on LTW here.