Phillip Roebuck – Nice & Sleazy (30 August 2006)

I came across Phillip Roebuck on the back of my interest in the work of Jawbone. Basically, they are both one-man-bands. While the latter sits Hasil style behind a kit and plays amazing blues with a screwdriver on his guitar, while the former seems – at least – a little more traditional in the one-man stakes. He has one of those strap-on drum kits and a banjo. However, his take on the blues leans towards Zep (ok, not usually a good thing) and is so run-raw-ragged that the latest album had to be (and indeed is) produced by Steve Albini.

One of my pet hates about going to gigs in most places in Glasgow is the heavy reliance on variations on P2P. We’ll ignore the fact that it’s a rip off, and completely skews any perspective on the ‘scene’ as a whole. What gets my goat is fighting your way into a fit-to-burst King Tuts only to find that half the crowd (who haven’t really been watching the bands) leaves after their mate/son/nephew/neighbour’s band have finished. You’re paying for a ticket to see three bands. At least check them out! Resulting in it being accepted that band A are ‘better’ than band B because they really have no qualms about selling tickets to see them play their pastoral folk ditties in support to Napalm Death to their grannies. The fact that many seem to take this as some great indicator of popularity beggars belief. But, mainly, I resent being held up in beer queues by people that don’t actually like music.

But, even worse than that, is the support band (I didn’t put myself through the whole set – I have seen them before – so I’ll not even try to name them, seeing as the name completely escapes me) that bring what is very obviously all of their mates, who then stay for the last act, and have the audacity to even enjoy it. What’s that all about? We even get the frontman of said support introducing Roebuck seems to damn him with the faintest praise possible. No-one seems to know who he is, but he’s dead good, honest. Yes, we fucken do. Not everyone is here for your anemic mewlings, tosspot. (I’ve seen this band a couple of times, I don’t like them very much. I’ll make a point of covering them fully next time – and, unfortunately, I know there will be a next time.)

To be honest, who could help enjoy it? This is a man playing mega-metal riffs on a banjo with some drums tied to his back. As well as being one of the most rocking sounds ever, the performance (by definition) has to be one o the most kinetic things I’ve ever witnessed. It’s like some weird Sharmanka take on Iggy (apologies for those outwith the west of Scotland). I’m knackered and I’m just watching (although, if I could get through the bastards standing on stools, I’d be up the front dancing).

Roebuck has a nice self effacing charm. And, he seems genuinely taken by the response he’s getting. It’s rapturously warm and completely understandable. And, it hits that point – all too rare these days – when the music grabs and completely engulfs you. Marvelous metal* madness.

*“Metal” in the true sense of the word.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

18 September 2006 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Gigs

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