Emerging from the abyss, Steve Mason proves he’s a champion to cherish.
To describe Steve Mason as a low-rent Ian Brown would be doing the former Beta Band chief a disservice. But the similarities tonight are inescapable and ever-present.
From his pre-gig DJ warm-up pitched high in the Kazimier‘s loft space showcasing his preference for dub-reggae-wamp-wamp, to his sports casuals attire (complete with accessorised jewellery and leather hoodie), the biting anti-establishment diatribes and of course a weight of expectation attached to that seminal debut record, it’s easy to compare this Glaswegian whitey with a somewhat thinning mane to his simian Mancunian other.
Musically they’re also sleeping in the same bed; melding what Drowned in Sound expertly coined ‘pastoral G funk‘ which lollops along at a half-pace introducing interplanetry guitar licks or phased beats which guide our band leader on his journey – that journey being on the spot while jogging, preferably with tambourine or shaker in hand.
But where the two differ wildly is attitude. While Brown is resolutely the big I Am, Mason has a humility and a self deprecating style, roundly clapping the audience or dofting his imaginary cap after every track. He’s clearly as chuffed to have made it this far as we are to see him.
Lyrically his tone, while not defeatest, strays close to the interview he gave to the Guardian where he revealed he’d been driving around Fife ‘marking out trees that would be good to crash into at high-speed‘ as he struggled with depression. ‘You feel the heat on your heel but you keep running, cos there’s a hole in the cloud you can jump through.. (Hound On My Heel)’
But in amongst the darkness there’s a resolute spirit and an air that he’s staved off the demons and isn’t so much fighting his way out of the corner but on top on points. Softly snarling at fallen idols (John Lydon‘s butter-soul-selling is given a beating on Stress Position) or emerging from the abyss (Boys Outside/Lost and Found), Mason has the air of champion – and if his latest record, the first under his own name, is anything to go by, this is a change for the better.
The gathering throng cheer warmly when Mason emerges for a brief solo speck with a thrummed, stripped version of Dr Baker before a full band baggy workout of King Biscuit Time‘s I Walk The Earth closes in congo clammer.
Photos by Thomas Lennon.