Sunday, 19 February 2012

Gillan Edinburgh March 1980

Gillan - Around the world in 80 Tour
5th March 1980

Edinburgh Odeon

When I last saw Ian Gillan, his new band were out and about attempting to promote an album which was not even available in the UK at the time!  The Japanese Album, as it was known was, for arcane contractual reasons only available in…………well, I’ll let you work that one out for yourselves.

A year on he had recruited a new guitarist and drummer, and had re-recorded much of The Japanese Album, and released it as Mr Universe, hence this tour.  I had purchased the new ‘un pretty much as soon as it was released and, whilst I felt there were some fine songs on there, lyrically I found the thing more than a little discomforting.  The almost poetic meanderings of:

"Bright casino lights flicker as You dance,
Warm Arabian nights, atmospheres of chance."

from the Ian Gillan Band days, had given way to the likes of:

"Keep Your hands on my lever,
Watch it whilst I stab your beaver."

I also noted, with a weary sigh, that Gillan had chosen to name his music publishing company, Pussy Music.

It wasn’t prudishness which led to my disquiet, but a vague feeling of being somehow insulted that the man had decided that this was the sort of puerile, misogynistic nonsense which would appeal to his new fan base, now he had returned to a heavier sound.  We were not all hormonally imbalanced 15 year-olds boys, I wanted to tell him.  We could cope with lyrics of depth and substance.  Honest.

However, this was at the time a very minor gripe, and I very much looked forward to seeing the band.  I had gone along with D, an ex-school friend who was an unreconstructed Metal Mickey, and onto whose musical radar Gillan had recently crept now the jazzy stuff had been ditched.  Normally nothing on the lighter side of Motorhead enticed him along to gigs.

Update - May 2013 - I attended D's funeral today - buried in a Motorhead T-shirt under his three-piece suit - RIP buddy.

Before Gillan we enjoyed 30 minutes or so in the company of The Edgar Broughton Band (or The Broughtons as they were being called at this point, probably for legal reasons).  I knew the name from the inner sleeves of Harvest label albums, where they looked your original bunch of scary hairies.  But The Broughtons were actually quite entertaining – Big Edgar could certainly play his guitar more than a bit, even if he couldn’t sing for toffee.  Did they play their big “hit” Out Demons Out?  I have no idea.

Gillan’s set aired most of the Mr Universe album, along with a couple of as yet unreleased songs: Sleeping on the Job (which actually dated back to The Japanese Album sessions), and an interminable cod-blues fiasco called If You Believe Me.

The band were fine.  Very slick, very professional, if a touch perfunctory.  Both of the new guys did their jobs adequately.  Drummer Mick Underwood, although showing little finesse could certainly thump along with the best of them, even if he did bear more than a passing resemblance to Brian Murphy out of George & Mildred.  Bernie Torme I really didn’t take to at all – he seemed to rely just a bit too much on feedback and his punk/pirate/romany image.  For me anyway, Steve Byrd was way cooler, and technically a better player to boot.

I came away just a wee bit disappointed, without being able to put my finger on quite why.  It may have been, in part, due to the fact a portion of my head was elsewhere during the evening.  Through in Glasgow to be precise, where Celtic were entertaining (and whipping) Real Madrid in a European Cup tie, I should have been attending.

Setlist (Titles probably correct, order most definitely not so)

Second Sight
Secret of the Dance
Sleeping on the Job
Mr Universe
Abbey of Thelema
Dead of Night
If You Believe Me
Message in a Bottle

Smoke on the Water

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