The James Orr ComplexEdit this event
Why, why, why, why, WHY???!?? What kind of illiterate, self-aggrandising, post-Strokes FUCK comes to a gig just to talk loudly about their pointless life?
It wouldn’t matter, if the condition wasn’t more contagious than whichever STD they’ve gained this week from tossing each other off, and more importantly, if a talented young songsmith wasn’t pouring his heart out onstage.
The James Orr Complex is former Eska boy Chris Mack, and he looks as if he’s about to cry. Not surprising really, considering he’s a fingerpicking acoustic whiz with the fragile musical splendour of a spider’s web. Not that anybody would cunting know, seeing as you CAN’T FUCKING HEAR HIM. Still, their loss – they’re obviously only here for one band, and if that is your game, you’d struggle to pick a more worthy one than Arab Strap.
For a man who doesn’t actually _do_ much onstage – newly freed from ivories duties by a touring keyboardist – Aidan Moffat is a fascinating frontman fit to transfix any crowd. He turns his back to the audience and wiggles his arse, and between songs he’s basically the same as during them – a rambling, mumbling, but incredibly likeable, mess. Ruddy-cheeked and swigging beer throughout, it nearly causes his downfall mid-set when a dash for a piss results in the remaining Strappers waiting for several minutes while breath is recovered. Chaotic, shambolic, but brilliantly human.
And that’s where Arab Strap really win out. Everyone can relate to something in Moffat’s lyrics, filled with the awkward moments we all like to forget, the drunken thoughts everybody harbours, the detail of mundane everyday life.
The subject matter takes in a broad spectrum of love and drinking and, erm, love, and more drinking; messy love, bad love, cheating, lying, nights down the pub, masturbating over friends’ sisters, and cleaning up those gooey post-ejaculation splodges.
Moffat’s learnt to be funny without insulting the select, loyal fans who follow AS round their seemingly eternal trek around venues a third of the size they deserve. And when the tiresome bane of live gigs begins – shouted requests – Moffat cheerfully recalls how Mule leader PW Long dealt with a similar situation at a show in Glasgow. “He said ‘We’re not a fucking jukebox’ and just spat. I’m not gonna do that, but I thought it was cool!” You sense Aidan wishes he wasn’t too nice to do the same.
The tunes aren’t bad either – the wonderfully honest tale of ‘New Birds’ is one of the undoubted highs, where close encounters of the Moffat/unnamed woman kind climax in two separate taxis to their respective homes and lingering thoughts of what could’ve been.
Latest album, ‘Monday At The Hug & Pint’, is well represented too, including single, ‘The Shy Retirer’, itself the absolute epitome of an Arab Strap song. Nothing can quite match ‘Who Named The Days’, however, where Aidan moans, “he makes me treat girls like shit/he makes me lie to them and use them”. It’s purportedly aimed at a friend, but think of it as a curse towards Him upstairs for making the bearded singer screw any skirt within a roving 100m radius.
And while Arab Strap may forever be on the fringes of popular indie, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t wipe the fucking floor with just about any guitar band, British or otherwise, you care to mention.
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