Nothing new but plenty to like
It may only have been the ABC2 venue, the baby version of Glasgow’s ABC but the venue was ram packed for the Black Lips. The kids seemed buoyed by a local support act and most of the Glasgow schools were off for a few days so no doubt there was an added excitement in the air for much of the audience. That said, the bar was doing a roaring trade and the band were welcomed like long lost heroes when they finally stumbled onto stage.
On the surface of it, there are only two types of Black Lips songs, the fast psychedelic one with nasally vocals and the slow psychedelic one with nasally vocals. Then again, bands have made a career out of less and just when you felt the evening was going to dip, an element would change such as the bass going into overdrive and powering through the entire venue which would spark you back to life. Given that we are now seeing Iggy Pop advertise insurance (no wait, the premise of the advert is that Iggy is selling us time as opposed to insurance, good for you Igs), having some straight forward uncomplicated basic rock should be celebrated as opposed to be grumbled about.
Given that the new album isn’t out yet, only the most committed fans would have been aware of the latest material but it fitted in with the progression of the bands career. The spirit and vibe from the bands initial releases still exist but the rough edges have been polished off and even though the live show was pretty chaotic, the overall impression was of a very professional outfit. This may be against the ethos of their early period but the band still showed some anarchic spirit when guitarist Cole Alexander found himself in the crowd as the band played on. He never recovered his hat but he recovered his composure and was back on stage by the time the next track was ready to roll.
With some of the barflys talking about the derivative sounds and oh so predictability of the music, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Black Lips were a disappointment but try telling that to the kids at the front of the stage. Once you get past the fact all music is pretty much derivative and loosen up, the entertainment on offer would have been more than enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. If Primal Scream returned with an lp or stage performance like this, it would be considered as a return to form and a striding update of that classic garage rock sound that has captured the imagination of rock n rollers for decades.