Edwyn Collins, Gabi Garbutt and the Illuminations, Seatbelts: Arts Club, Liverpool

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Edwyn Collins, by Warren Millar

Edwyn Collins paid a triumphant visit to Liverpool for a gig at Arts Club, and GetintothisPaul Fitzgerald was there to celebrate the old moments and to welcome the new.

Edwyn Collins appearance on the stage at Arts Club brought waves of warmth and loving welcome across the crowd, here to support the release of his tenth album, Badbea.

From the moment he took a seat he looked happy and content to be here, glad that the music he says saved him following a double cerebral haemorrhage 14 years ago has brought him again back to the stage, doing what he loves, what he was meant to do.

He wasn’t the only one. The support and encouragement from the crowd was almost tangible. Here was a prodigal son, a true shining star of our times. Collins and his peers defined a time and a place for so many here.

In the grim and bleak early 80s, we searched for colour and light. We found it in bands like Aztec Camera, Echo and The Bunnymen, and The Go-betweens. And we found it in Orange Juice.

That’s not to say this was some kind of 80s reunion, a smiley tribute to the ‘good ol’ days’, drenched in nostalgia. Far from it. The set was drawn from his 40-year career, bringing early Orange Juice moments, like the brilliant, still fresh first single, the woozy and infectious Falling and Laughing, and the spiky urgency of Blue Boy with highlights of the Badbea record.

It’s All About You saw him duetting with former Sugarman Chay Heney of this parish, while the shimmering 60s cine vibes of I Guess We Were Young, showed the craftmanship so inherent in Collin’s writing.

This was a set packed with emotion for everyone in the room, and the inclusion of What Presence?, all jagged guitar and Edwyn’s soulful burr, dampened the eyes of at least one Getintothis writer. Ahem. Truly a highlight, a groovy, spooky and wonderful moment.

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Outside, another from Badbea, was delivered with a punch, dirty, fuzzed-up back street guitars, Iggy style and Buzzcocks flavoured, while the title track of 2007’s Home Again album was as beautiful as it should be, steeped in the memory of his boyhood dreams, and recovery.

The sort of wonderful tenderness you’d find in Sinatra‘s A Man Alone album.

Seeing William, Edwyn‘s son joining his Dad to duet on In Your Eyes was something special, the nerves and excitement on the lad’s face mirrored in that of this most appreciative crowd. He finished the song with a relieved smile, gave his old man a kiss, and spent the rest of the set pogoing behind the Merch desk.

Buzzing.

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John Peel believed that The Undertones Teenage Kicks was the greatest pop song ever recorded. Nah. That particular glory and honour must surely go to the bouncy, pop-funk squelch of Rip It Up. Surely. It is the most perfect song. What pop songs should be about, and it united the whole room in song, with Edwyn smiling his vocal throughout. “Rip It Up – a classic!“, he declared. He’s right too.

Don’t Shilly Shally was edgy, pressing and vital, while Simply Thrilled Honey was a sweet soul moment, all chiming guitars and Edwyn‘s scratched baritone.

With Collins on his feet conducting the crowd with his walking stick, they tore through A Girl Like You in an expression of the victory of the night. Triumph and love. The healing and restorative power of music defined here in this very moment.

Edwyn Collins. National treasure. Always a pleasure, and never, ever a chore.

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Gabi Garbutt and the Illuminations are touring with Collins. We’re not sure, but something seemed missing here. She’s a great performer, and she has a great band, but the songs, for us at least, just didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was like they were leading us somewhere but somehow and in some way, we never got there. It all just seemed better suited to the back room of The Dog and Bucket on a sparsely attended wet Tuesday night.

Seatbelts did what Seatbelts do. Glorious, shining, bouncy pop songs, laden with hooks and delivered with a punch. At times reminiscent of the funk of Talking Heads and the brooding energy of The Monochrome Set, they were an absolute joy.

The instinctive musical connection, that magical, invisible bond that gives bands their energy is clear to see when Seatbelts perform. It’s a natural union, a common ground between these musicians.

They get each other, and it shows. And it produces some mighty fine pop moments.

We love Seatbelts, don’t we?

Pictures by Getintothis’ Warren Millar

 

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