Music preview: Death By Ambition @ King Tut's, Glasgow

Published by METRO

Tomorrow (21 December), 8.30pm, £6, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 221 5279. www.kingtuts.co.uk

Yes, I’m fully aware that you’re probably not considering going to any gigs at the moment. With just a handful of days remaining to squeeze in that final Christmas shopping spree you can barely afford, there are better times of the year to be watching an alternative rock band perform, I understand.

But please just hear me out, alright? Death By Ambition are more than a bang for your buck, and you’ve definitely still got the time and money to enjoy their music for a couple of hours and £6.

Since forming in June 2010, the four piece have acquired a dedicated following on the local scene, by bringing their progressive and anthemic sound – à la Biffy Clyro – to venues across the city.

Having performed a set at Barrowlands this time last year, they head on to the modest yet magical King Tut’s stage tomorrow night, on the back of their recent Everything Popular Is Wrong EP release.

‘We’re really excited to be playing such a legendary venue that every band in Glasgow wants to play, and one where so many of our favourite bands have played before,’ said guitarist and vocalist Chris Harkin. ‘We’re just happy at getting the chance to perform our music for people.’

Support comes from fellow Glasgow guitar band Switchback Road, and progressive rockers Call Me Salvador – four lads who’ll be coming all the way from Houston. That's Johnstone, not Texas.

So you say you’re skint? That you’ve not got enough time? Well, with an evening of fresh, locally-sourced talent on offer, that just won’t wash with me.


Music preview: Malcolm Middleton @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh

Published by METRO

It’s Latitude Festival 2008. After watching a band perform on the Sunrise Arena, I’m seriously considering staying for the next act – Malcolm Middleton. And right then, I hear someone say, in a thick Glaswegian accent: ‘Ah, no wonder he’s so bloody miserable, he’s from Falkirk.’

Granted, the intense melancholia and nihilism riddled in Middleton’s material isn’t going to make you want to hug random strangers down the street on first hearing. But please, chisel away at the somewhat uninviting surface of the world’s most exciting ‘sadcore’ artist, and find your reward in his engaging tragic tales and wicked sense of humour.

After first making a name for himself with now-defunct alternative rock outfit Arab Strap – a collaboration with friend Aidan Moffat that lived for ten years and spawned five acclaimed albums – Middleton released his first solo record back in 2002. Now, as he reaches the end of a two-week string of UK dates that has seen him perform tracks from his soon-available sixth offering, he’s bringing forth another project. Yet intriguingly, the singer-songwriter has been performing as new act Human Don’t Be Angry in addition to himself during the tour.

So, please be aware that, with songs such as We’re All Going To Die – for which he plays a drunken Santa Claus in the music video – Middleton doesn’t intend to bring some good old festive cheer to your hearts. But know that this macabre genius is nevertheless more than worthy of your visit tonight.

You see, all those years ago, I’d foolishly taken that naysayer’s comment on board. I missed this guy’s show. If you’ve any sense about you at all, you’ll avoid repeating my mistake.


Music preview: DJ Shadow @ O2 ABC, Glasgow

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I remember when it was playing at a West End flat-warming party, but also how I used to stick it on at home whenever I needed to focus on some work. It was the perfect soundtrack to stomping around the damp Glasgow streets in your headphones, while it too seemed to be a popular fixture inside the city’s cafés during summer.

Fans of DJ Shadow’s debut album will know what I’m talking about. Inventively crafted using only audio samples, Endtroducing… achieved a broad spectrum of rhythm to which many of life’s routines could be set. Its multi-layered fusion of hip-hop, jazz, funk and psychedelic music with extracts from television shows, films and interviews was strikingly – if somehow paradoxically – original, and catapulted turntablism far into another dimension.

The record was hailed as ingenious. A masterpiece. A magnum opus. Shadow’s creation of something utterly new, exclusively from other people’s work, changed the mainstream view of sampling forever… and I could go on.

OK, I’m a huge fan of this album. But however successful it was and great it remains, I have to admit that it’s 15 years old. And it’s no longer its creator’s only child.

After Endtroducing…, DJ Shadow released a compilation of his early singles, produced UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction and provided the score for the documentary Dark Days.

It wasn’t until 2002, six years after its predecessor, that Shadow’s second LP hit the shops. Even when inevitably compared with the first, The Private Press stood its ground, and attracted positive – albeit not glorifying – reviews.

However, his third offering was met with a mixed reception. Entitled The Outsider, the 2006 release gave a platform to Hyphy music – a popular form of rap music originating from San Francisco. Having created a universally-acclaimed debut and a more-than-capable follow-up, it appeared that the California-based artist was struggling to convince his admirers of this departure in style.

It nevertheless extended his fan base and added to the intrigue surrounding his fourth studio recording – distributed in October this year. The Less You Know, The Better – featuring the double A-side single Def Surrounds Us/I’ve Been Trying – has been described as a return to form, in which Latin rhythms, piano melodies and folk music are absorbed into Shadow’s winning brand of instrumental hip-hop.

Now on another extensive world tour, this guy’s legendary live shows reflect the energy he puts into his albums. Obscure samples, restless scratching, addictive loops and mighty beats will undoubtedly send the O2 ABC crowd into spasms of clubbing excitement as he marries material old and new on stage.

Not always are the acts previewed here the indisputable best at what they do, I’ll be honest. But DJ Shadow truly is, and his musical talent must absolutely be seen and heard rather than read about.


Pantomime preview: Sleeping Beauty @ King's Theatre, Glasgow

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OK, so you know how some people think they can break society down into two different types of people? Good and evil, buyers and sellers, lucky and unlucky… Well, here’s my theory – pantomime lovers and pantomime haters.

And it really won’t be difficult to identify who’s who as the pantomime season kicks off – which happens to be tonight until January 8 if you’re employed by Glasgow’s King’s Theatre.

The venue's show this time around is Sleeping Beauty – a romantic and hilarious epic that's everything a great pantomime should be. I’m sure we all remember the story – of a princess doomed to one hundred years of sleep unless her true love can awaken her with a kiss – although perhaps not as well as Karen Dunbar.

Having played the same part in a previous production four years ago, the much-loved entertainer is back at King's for a second go as Nanny.

Joining Dunbar on stage are Gregory’s Girl actress Clare Grogan and Rab C Nesbitt’s Tony Roper, who’ll both be attracting the audience’s boos and hisses as the wicked fairy Carabosse and her heartless Henchman Hector.

Former Any Dream Will Do finalist Keith Jack, who played Aladdin at King’s in 2009, returns for the role of The Prince, while River City’s Lorna Anderson (portraying Princess Beauty), comedian Steven McNicoll (The King) and screen star Kath Howden (The Queen) complete a stellar Scottish cast.

So, are you a pantomime lover or a hater? If you were interested enough to read this far, then you’ll certainly be able to enjoy this fun and ridiculous extravaganza. Oh, yes you will!