Tuesday, October 3

Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Edinburgh Summerhall (Dissection Room)

‘My baby loves Happy Mondays,

My baby drinks leftovers in the morning.’

Piccadilly Records, Manchester, second half of 1995. There’s – as usual – something good playing as I go through Parlophone’s releases for the week with the buyer(s) and three tracks in I’m forced to break off, ‘What’s this playing?’

‘Waterpistol, Shack. They did it a while ago, but it sort of… got lost.’

27 years later the same record store made ‘Dear Scott’ their album of the year for 2022. It topped Mojo magazine’s chart too. At Summerhall’s Dissection Room tonight we’ve a chance to catch up with the latest episode of Michael Head’s career. Long story but: The Pale Fountains, Shack, The Magical World of The Strands, and now The Red Elastic Band. A Postie reference, I believe. Having had ‘Kismet’ off ‘Dear Scott’ spinning in the head all day I rather hoped they’d start with it. Done, Thank you. ‘No, thank you,’ retorts Michael at one point to someone in the audience. Edinburgh audiences garner a bit of stick for being genteel. Not tonight, and there’s plenty of back and forth, but mutually appreciative. Michael seems genuinely taken aback by the reception and comments on ‘the mix’; a diverse range of ages, some with short memories and those with long. For the latter he teased a (very) truncated ‘Mood of The Morning’, and a full ‘Stranger’ from Waterpistol. Then ‘As Long as I’ve Got You’ from …Here’s Tom With The Weather…

‘Morning paper’s soaking from the rain,

And Kilroy’s hairs turned blue.’

… closing the show with a monumental ‘Meant to Be’.

‘The Streets of Kenny’ and ‘Comedy’ from HMS Fable got an airing amongst assorted gems from the latest albums. There’s also a boatload of tunes he didn’t play. Under the mainstream radar, his prolific, influential 40-year output is shot through with warmth and humour and an alchemical ability to pen a line that turns grim, grey matter into something beautiful, an addict’s cold congealed grease of a rainy winter’s day in Liverpool achingly romantic.

‘It’s not like it in the movies,

There may be police involved.’

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 11th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.