Friday, 24 October 2014

The King's Peace: Realism and War

Stills, Edinburgh until Sunday.

Four stars

While the welter of artistic contributions to the one hundred year anniversary of the First World War's opening salvo have been resolutely non-triumphalist, recent events in Palestine and what looks set to be Iraq Part Three suggest little has been learnt in the intervening century. As Remembrance Day looms, this is where this dense and at times overwhelming compendium of war in pieces curated by artist Owen Logan and Kirsten Lloyd of Stills comes in.

A sequel of sorts to Logan and Lloyd's previous collaboration on the epic ECONOMY project, which looked at global capitalism in a similarly polemical fashion, the starting point of The King's Peace is selections from Masquerade: Michael Jackson Alive in Nigeria (2001-2005). Logan's satirical photo-essay sees him pick up the mantle – and the white mask – of the late pop icon and travels to Africa, where his mysterious collaborators the Maverick Ejiogbe Twins subsequently play-act assorted personas that move from self-deified guru through the echelons of a volatile society in flux.

Set against walls painted perfectly regimented red or white which host pithy quotes from Emmeline Pankhurst and others, Masquerade becomes the mast for an umbilically and socio-politically connected network of images from the USA, South Africa, Argentina, Italy and much closer to where the home fires may have burnt to be pinned to. The roots of this come in archive spreads from 1920s radical newspaper, Workers' Illustrated News, and The Greatest Show on Earth, from the 1930s. The now vintage imagery of both make explicit the economic relationship between capitalism and war.

The collateral damage of conflict can be seen both in Philip Jones Griffiths' remarkable frontline images collected in his 1971 book, Vietnam Inc (1971), and in the post Second World War shots of Paul Strand, who, along with writer Cesare Zavattini, produced Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village (1955) out of time spent in the rural town of Luzzara. While American soldiers observe Vietnamese mothers holding their dead children in the former, the dusty family idyll of the latter is upended by the words beside it from the mother of a clan decimated by violence.

On a wooden assemblage that resembles a wind-up washing line, but which is actually a reconstruction of a design first built by Latvian artist Gustav Klucis to host a living newspaper type structure, an archive of the 1960s Argentinian collective, Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia Group of Avant-Garde Artists) is plastered. Archivo Tucuman Arde (Tucuman Burns Archive) (1968) is a series of posters and other documentation of a doomed attempt at alternative media which was eventually shut down by the authorities it opposed in a climate of social crisis in a US-backed dictatorship.

War Primer 2 (2011) finds Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin applying similarly disruptive strategies to Realpolitik by putting contemporary images over clippings collected by Bertolt Brecht in 1955 and accompanied by poems which are as pertinent now as then. One, in which American troops film a dead body with a camouflage covered video phone is especially telling of how war is immortalised as spectacle.

This is evident too in the selections of photo-montages from Martha Rosler's House Beautiful: Bringing The War Home, New Series (2004-2008). Here male models who seem to have stepped out of a Reservoir Dogs theme party promenade through a battlefield. In another, a chicly-dressed female model gazes with mouth wide open into her mobile phone as if about to take a selfie.

Blithely self-absorbed and seemingly unaware of the two bloodied children slumped in the chairs behind her, the woman registers posed faux surprise at the image of the man possibly caught in the crossfire on the small screen in her hand as what may as well be a downloaded action movie. Sheltered from the blast of the carnage outside the windows of her sleekly sound-proofed des-res, the woman's response, in all it's glossy vacuity, is an all too perfect encapsulation of desensitised lives during wartime.

Nermine Hammam's Press, from her series, Unfolding (2012), is a brutal juxtaposition of police brutality in Egypt following the 2011 uprising and the Zen serenity of a Japanese medieval landscape that makes it look like a frame from a science-fiction comic strip.

If the two images from Fred Lonidier's N.A.F.T.A. (Not A Fair Trade for All) series (2005) highlights the relationship between art and activism among exploited workers in Mexico, it is made even clearer in Digging for Diamonds...a Journey Back to Fairy Hales (1994/2014). This film charts the interventions of the Snapcorps photography group, based in the Wester Hailes area of Edinburgh in the 1990s. Here the group dressed up as an unemployed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for Hi Ho Giro, a piece that was part performance, part protest.

Through a series of reminiscences of four of the original Snapcorps members, the film made with Stuart Platt captures a moment from Edinburgh's oppositional past that created a mini community who discovered their own brand of self-determination and power through a piece of serious fun.

With books and essays in a newspaper style publication to read and films, including Eugene Jarecki's ninety-eight minute Why We Fight to watch, there's a lot to take in throughout what becomes a quietly didactic meditation on war's ongoing futility.

That intensity of concentration required may be partly why The King's Peace perhaps hasn't attracted the same amount of attention as the more voguishly marketable sections of GENERATION, the showcase of twenty-five years of contemporary art in Scotland which it forms part of. It's almost as if the show has been declared a no-man's-land, too serious and too engaged to make the front pages alongside the assorted art stars featured elsewhere in GENERATION. While this is a shame, it is also everything that The King's Peace is about. All it is saying, after all, is give peace a chance, and who would want to read about that?
 
A shorter version of this article appeared on The List online, October 2014
 

ends

Talk To Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen...

Little Theatre, Dundee
Four stars
A quartet of rarely-seen short plays by Tennessee Williams isn't the
obvious choice for Dundee Rep Ensemble's fifth annual tour of the
city's community venues. In director Irene Macdougall's hands, however,
Williams' sad little studies of little lives in everyday crisis are
revealed to be as rich in poetry and poignancy as his tempestuous
full-length works.

Opening with the compendium's title piece, the self-destructive urges
of the play's damaged young couple played by Thomas Cotran and Millie
Turner are captured in a series of desperate exchanges that sees them
finally cling to each other for comfort. Like them, all of Williams'
characters create elaborate fictions for themselves in order to survive
the madness of the world beyond the bare floorboards and shabby rooms
of Leila Kalbassi's set. Punctuated by a melancholy piano score, the
plays contain a contemporary currency too that speaks variously about
art, addiction and abuse.

In Mr Paradise, Turner's literary groupie comes calling on John Buick's
clapped-out poet who she wishes to reintroduce to the world. Auto-da-Fe
finds the sight of a dirty picture opening something up inside pious
Eloi he's unable to contain, even as his mother, played by Ann Louise
Ross, looks on with disapproval. Cotran and Turner fully come into
their own in This Property is Condemned as Tom and Willie, a pair of
teenagers playing on the rail-track. Dressed in a vivid purple dress
and spinning increasingly troubling yarns as she clutches on to her
doll, Turner gives a performance that is as truthful as it is grotesque
in an emotionally charged evening of miniature masterpieces.

The Herald, October 24th 2014


ends



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sue Glover - Bondagers

Before Sue Glover wrote Bondagers, books on the subject of female farm
workers in the nineteenth century seemed to be pretty thin on the
ground. Once Glover's play charting six women's travails through the
seasons became a hit in Ian Brown's original production for the
Traverse Theatre in 1991, however, everything changed. The play's
emotional landscape and lyrical largesse tapped into something that
audiences lapped up, and Brown's production was revived for bigger
theatres and toured to Canada. Suddenly there seemed to be a welter of
literature on the subject, while the play itself was recently named as
one of the twelve key Scottish plays written between 1970 and 2010.

Twenty-three years on since its premiere, and more than a decade since
it was last produced on home soil, Bondagers comes home to roost in Lu
Kemp's new production at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. Even
with such an extended absence, Glover remains close to the play.

“It's difficult to get away from it,” she says on a lunchtime sojourn
into Edinburgh from her Fife home. “It's always there. There have been
productions abroad, you get emails from students doing design, or
school-teachers doing it with their kids, so it becomes part of you.
All your plays are part of you.”

The roots of Bondagers date back to Glover being told about the history
of women who were exploited as cheap labour while trying to keep body,
soul and family together. Having never heard of them, she looked into
it, and originally planned to write the play as a two-hander before it
blossomed into something bigger.

“Ian Brown said to me that I'd given him a very difficult play to
direct,” Glover remembers. “Apparently it's written in a lot of
different styles, but they all seem to fit together to me, and I don't
want to analyse or think about that too much, but I think it was just
the landscape that started it, and it's very dangerous to begin with a
landscape. It's usually a character or something of the story or an
incident, but there wasn't anything except that I kept seeing these
misty fields. A forty or fifty acre field sounds enormous, and it was
enormous then, although it's nothing now. I was on a car and a train in
Poland recently, going past these vast swathes of fields that could
have been somewhere in America, but these fields were new at that time.

“I believe they tried growing trees around the edges of the fields, and
then realised that it wasn't a good idea, partly because it would keep
the sun off the fields. I loved all that stuff. I always have. Even as
a kid I'd see places being concreted over, and wonder how we'd be able
to grow our food.”

Before Bondagers, there seemed to be few contemporary plays being
written in Scotland with rural settings. Whether it was coincidence or
there was something in the air, Glover's play seemed to open the door
on other works that moved beyond the inner-city. Alastair Cording's
stage adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbons' novel, Sunset Song, appeared
the same year as Bondagers, while original works such as David
Harrower's still startling Knives In Hens was an even bigger breath of
fresh air. At one point, it seemed like the majority of new plays being
produced by the Traverse were rural-based, including Glover's own play,
Shetland Saga. This was something brought home by the new writing
theatre's once annual Highland tour.

“I got the impression that if I'd been writing about housing estates or
factories or drugs, some theatres might have been much more interested
in my work,” Glover says. “All of my theatre plays are set on beaches
or islands or the countryside, and audiences have always been very
happy about that. Theatre admin departments weren't, certainly not in
the way they are now.”

One of Glover's bĂȘte noirs is classical plays having some kind of
concept imposed on them.

“They keep on trying to see the relevance of everything,” she says,
“but audiences will get the relevance of it. I don't want to see
Shakespeare done in blazers with people carrying tennis rackets.
Audiences aren't so dim that they can't see what a play is about.”

Kemp's revival of Bondagers for the Royal Lyceum heralds a mini
renaissance of Glover's work. A new production by Borderline Theatre
Company of The Straw Chair, first seen at the Traverse in 1988, is
scheduled for 2015. Like Bondagers, The Straw Chair looks to history
for inspiration, and looks at what happens when an Edinburgh minister
and his wife arrive on eighteenth century St Kilda.

“It's set in the past,” says Glover of the play she calls her favourite
work, “but really it's a play about marriage. It's really exciting,
because they're going to open it in Orkney.”

Glover's most recent full-length stage play was Marilyn, which imagined
a meeting between Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret in a hotel room,
and which was seen at the Citizens Theatre in 2011. Beyond that, Glover
currently has two short plays on the go. The first is based around a
couple living with lions, while the second is about an older couple
facing up to their own mortality.
As with Bondagers, however, Glover is unwilling to impose a theme on
her new works lest it get in the way of writing it.

“I found out what Bondagers is about while I was writing it,” she says.
“It's about losing or spoiling the land. Young people are slightly
horrified by the sexual politics in the play, because they're seeing it
through modern eyes, but the energy of these women was amazing.”

Bondagers, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, October 22-November 15.
www.lyceum.org.uk

ends

Sue Glover – A life in writing

Sue Glover was born in Edinburgh and lives in the East Neuk of Fife.

She has written for theatre television and radio.

The Seal Wife – Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who take
human form and live on the land – Glover reinvented the myth for a
fishing community in 1980 at the Little Lyceum in Edinburgh.

The Straw Chair – First presented at the Traverse Theatre in 1988, this
charts the travails of an Edinburgh minister and his wife when they
move to St Kilda. A hit at the time, The Straw Chair looks set to be
revived by Borderline Theatre Company in 2015.

Bondagers – Glover's best known play was first presented by the
Traverse in 1991, when it opened at Tramway in Glasgow. Ian Brown's
production was subsequently remounted three times, and toured to Canada.

Sacred Hearts – This tale of five prostitutes who occupy the local
church in protest at their working conditions was based on a real life
prostitutes strike in 1975, and was presented by Communicado Theatre
company in 1994.

Shetland Saga – Philip Howard directed Glover's tale of what happens to
a group of Bulgarian sailors who become stranded in Shetland at the
Traverse Theatre in 2000.

Marilyn – Howard again directed Glover's work in this reimagining of a
meeting between Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret, who find themselves
staying at the same hotel.

The Herald, October 21st 2014


ends





Damir Todorovic

Actor, choreographer, theatre-maker

Born June 20 1973; died  October 15 2014



Damir Todorovic, who has died aged 41 following a short struggle with
cancer, was an actor prepared to go places others feared to tread. This
may not have been immediately obvious in a stream of film and TV roles
in which the Serbian-born performer's shaved head and sharp East
European features saw him frequently play the bad guy. With the
Glasgow-based Vanishing Point theatre company in shows such as the
award-winning Interiors, The Beggars Opera and Wonderland, however, he
created parts that were quietly intense and which, by way of Vanishing
Point's devising methods, were born from a place deep within him.

It was made even clearer just how far Todorovic was prepared to go in
As It Is, a show created by himself in which he strapped himself to a
lie detector while being interrogated about his time as a young soldier
in the Serbian army during the Balkan conflicts in 1993.  Originally
commissioned by the Belluard Bollwerk International Festival in
Switzerland and later produced in an English language version by
Vanishing Point in Glasgow, As It Is made for uncomfortable but
fascinating viewing. It tapped into a period in Todorovic's life that
had clearly left its mark, and which shaped his artistic choices
thereafter. As with everything Todorovic did, As It Is was also a
search for truth, even as it confronted his own past.

“Thinking about this, after twenty years, it feels like a dream,”
Todovoric said of his time on the frontline in an interview with the
Herald in 2013, “so thinking about what's happened since in terms of my
identity, I was a little confused. What happened was my own experience,
but some of that could be products of my imagination. So I wanted to
see what has happened to my memory, and to the memory of the people,
and to examine all these experiences.”

Todorovic was born in the small town of Vrsac in Serbia, and trained at
the National Academy of Drama Arts in Novi Sad. At the beginning of his
career, he was a member of CZKD (Centre for Cultural Decontamination)
and BITEF Theatre, both centres of artistic and political resistance
with whom he performed in socially provocative interpretations of
Kafka, Genet, and Shakespeare. In 2002, Todorovic performed at the
Venice Biennale with Italian theatre company Motus, and  went on to
work extensively in Italy, France and the former Yugoslavia.

It was while living in Italy that Todorovic auditioned for Vanishing
Point in 2008. This was for a new co-production with the Napoli
Festival that became Interiors. Once spotted by Vanishing Point
artistic director Matthew Lenton over the extensive auditioning
process, Todorovic developed the character of the mysterious stranger
in Interiors who is inexplicably invited to the meal on the darkest
night of the year that is the show's centrepiece.

“Damir was brilliant at improvising,” Lenton remembers of the man who
became one of his best friends and greatest collaborators, “thinking
laterally and creatively, with his eyes wide open. He was fearless,
sometimes eccentric, always experimental, never afraid to try
something.”

One of the starting points for Interiors had been a quote from the
Venerable Bede, about how the life of man on earth was like the 'swift
flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting hall', one minute
there, gone the next. It was perhaps significant too that the insignia
of Todorovic's website was the shadow of a black crow.

“Damir could relate to this,” says Lenton of the Venerable Bede's
words. “In Interiors and in life, Damir had charisma, charm, warmth and
was always compelling to watch. He was open and eccentric and,
importantly, had the ability to provoke others. I loved this quality.
If he sensed someone was inauthentic, he could have an acid tongue (I
was on the receiving end of it at times), though it mostly remained in
his cheek.”

Interiors was to mark the beginning of a major ongoing collaboration
with Vanishing Point, that saw him become a vital member of Vanishing
Point's international ensemble. He appeared in the company's
comic-strip style cyber-punk reimagining of John Gay's The Beggar's
Opera, at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, and in Wonderland, an
unflinching examination of pornography by way of Alice in Wonderland
presented as part of 2012's Edinburgh International Festival. Todorovic
played the brutal film director, his face looming frighteningly on the
big screen at the back of the stage as he clutched his young victim.

Todorovic toured with Interiors all over the world with a company that
Lenton describes as a family, and in which he was one of three original
members of the cast who stayed throughout each international excursion.

Outside of Vanishing Point, Todorovic continued to develop his own
work, and followed As It Is with Holiday On Stage, a collaboration with
Martin Schick that explored western capitalism's relationship with art.
The show was seen in Switzerland, across Europe and at the Brighton
Festival.

It was As It Is, however, that remained Todorovic's most personal work.

“Damir saw and suffered things during those years [of the Balkan
conflicts] that many of us in western Europe can only imagine,” Lenton
says. “His subsequent pursuit of the artistic life was authentic, real
and shaped by his experiences as a young man. That is also probably why
he didn't suffer fools gladly. He could live the high life because he
had suffered the hard life.”

Todorovic was mid-way through developing Vanishing Point's most recent
show, Tomorrow, when his cancer was diagnosed, and as his treatment
became more severe, he was forced to pull out of the show. His unique
signature nevertheless remains embedded in the finished piece, a
hauntingly beautiful meditation on caring for the elderly.  Last
weekend Todorovic was scheduled to begin re-rehearsing Interiors for
the show's forthcoming dates in Poland, but reluctantly emailed Lenton
to say he was too ill to take part.

Lenton remained in contact with Todororoc via a close friend, and
emailed a message of love while he was undergoing a blood transfusion,
and asked if he wanted anything in return. Todorovic responded with a
YouTube link to a rare recording of the Beatles singing Norwegian Wood
(This Bird Has Flown). It was, says Lenton, “a very Damir gesture”,
that brought to mind the black crow of Todorovic's website and the
Venerable Bede's sparrow.

“Was Damir that bird, leaving the banqueting hall?” Lenton ponders. “I
think he was, and he knew it.”

Having spent so much time in Scotland, Todorovic thought of Glasgow as
his second home, and often talked of moving to the city where he had
forged so many friendships and creative partnerships with like-minded
people.

“We don't need machines to discover what is deeply within ourselves,”
Todorovic said in 2013 when talking about As It Is. “Contact with human
beings is much more important. That's how we find the truth.”

Todorovic is survived by his mother, Branislava Todorovic, and his
brother, Borko Todorovic.

The Herald, October 20th 2014


Ends

The Night Before The Trial and The Sneeze

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
While John Byrne's 1960s reinvention of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters
plays to packed houses in the Tron's main house, Marcus Roche's
bite-size staging of two of the Russian master's miniatures is an all
too fitting curtain-raiser. Roche himself opens proceedings as Chekhov,
manning the decks with some particularly riotous Russian dance numbers
on the stereo before reading brief excerpts from his diaries.

These take place shortly after the original production of The Three
Sisters has been a massive flop, and Chekhov considers penning funnier
fare once more. This leads neatly into Roche's adaptation of the
unfinished The Night Before The Trial, in which a man awaits his fate
on the eve of being hauled before the court for attempted bigamy and
attempted murder. He is subsequently usurped by a young woman in need
of medical assistance he'd be happy to administer if only her pesky
husband wasn't also on the scene.

Played script in hand as if the words were still hot from Chekhov's
pen, the story's inconclusive ending segues into Michael Frayn's near
wordless The Sneeze like a Monty Python routine, with its author
stepping in, only to keel over so a reserve is forced to take his place.

Adapted from Chekhov's short story, Death of A Government Clerk, The
Sneeze sees a very sticky faux pas during a night at the opera upended
into a piece of silent movie slapstick as dexterous as Frayn's own
farces. Both of these fleeting moments of human behaviour are lifted
off the page by the production's casually-dressed quintet with an
irreverent brio that Chekhov needs much more of.

The Herald, October 21st 2014


ends


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Famous Five – Young Marble Giants, The Pop Group, Vic Godard & Subway Sect, The Sexual Objects, Pere Ubu

Young Marble Giants

The minimal palette of Cardiff trio Young Marble Giants' first and only album, Colossal Youth, remains as spooky and as fragile today as it was when it crept quietly into the post-punk landscape in 1980.


The Pop Group

Bristol's incendiary troupe of avant-punk insurrectionists return after this year's Celtic Connections show to perform their just repressed We Are Time album in full. Manic dub-funk sloganeering dangerous enough to bring down governments.


Vic Godard & Subway Sect

Subway Sect's support slot on the Edinburgh Playhouse date of The Clash's May 1977 White Riot tour at Edinburgh Playhouse inspired what would become The Sound of Young Scotland. Godard's re-recordings of his vintage northern soul period can be heard on 1979 Now.


The Sexual Objects

One of those attending the Edinburgh White Riot date was Davy Henderson, who formed Fire Engines, Win and The Nectarine No 9 before morphing into The SOBs, who have frequently backed Godard. Pop Group guitarist Gareth Sager collaborated with The Nectarine No 9, and when PG drummer Bruce Smith is on PiL duty, SOBs drummer Ian Holford has been known to step into the breach.


Pere Ubu

Crawling out of Cleveland, Ohio in 1975 and named after Alfred Jarry's proto-absurdist play, David Thomas' antsy sci-fi-fused garage-band have just released their latest album, Carnival of Souls. In 1981, YMG bassist Phil Moxham played on Thomas' solo record, The Sound of The Sand.


Young Marble Giants, Stereo, Glasgow, Oct 20th; The Pop Group, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Oct 20th; Vic Godard & Subway Sect with The Sexual Objects, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Nov 15th; Pere Ubu, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Nov 18th.



ends

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Young Marble Giants - Return of the Colossal Youth

Young Marble Giants never meant to reform. In truth, the Cardiff-sired
trio, who play their first ever Glasgow show on Monday night, had been
barely there in the first place. The band's sole long-playing release,
Colossal Youth, named, like their own, after images of ancient Greek
statues, seemed to have come fully formed from nowhere when it was
released by Rough Trade records in 1980.

The record's collection of fifteen austere vignettes sounded like
nothing else around, with brothers Stuart and Philip Moxham weaving
clipped, scratchy guitar and bass patterns around singer Alison
Statton's fragile, untutored voice as she sang Stuart Moxham's lyrical
fragments with a distance that made them sound like the darkest of
nursery rhymes. A drum machine and occasional organ added to the
eeriness, as did the shadowy image of the trio on the album's suitably
stark cover. Lo-fi doesn't come close.

“We didn't think it was going to get anywhere,” says Stuart Moxham
today. “We were on the dole and living in what was practically a squat,
and were desperate to get out of Cardiff. It seemed everyone else was
making this loud thrashy noise, so we decided to turn things around and
go the other way.”

'Let's hear It For Quiet Music' went the headline of one rapturous
review of Colossal Youth as Young Marble Giants became critical
darlings in a still underground musical landscape. A follow-up EP was
led by the song Final Day, later covered by Belle and Sebastian, and
the band toured Europe and America. By the time they released Testcard,
a second EP featuring six brief instrumental sketches, Young Marble
Giants had vanished  into the ether they'd seemingly sprung from. In
truth, the band's implosion was much more mundane.

“We'd planned for the future,” says Moxham, “but there was no plan for
success. Nobody tells you that being in a band is like being in a
marriage, but with more people. We were very young, were people who
couldn't really talk about things that mattered, and never saw it
coming. On top of this, Phil and Alison were splitting up as a couple,
there was sibling rivalry, and then Alison got really ill.”

The three went their separate ways, with Statton fronting the equally
short-lived nouveau pastoral jazz trio, Weekend, and Moxham releasing
material under the name The Gist, while his brother Phil played with
Everything But The Girl and Pere Ubu's David Thomas. Only when Moxham
was approached with a view to YMG reforming to record new material was
any kind of reunion mooted. By that time, Kurt Cobain had declared them
one of his two favourite bands (The Vaselines were the other), Courtney
Love had covered their song, Credit In The Straight World and Colossal
Youth was about to be re-released on CD.

At that point, Statton and the Moxhams hadn't been in the same room
together for twenty-seven years. Despite Moxham having long given up on
any chance of a reunion, the meeting in a Welsh pub went surprisingly
well.

“Phil is the big decider in this band.” says his big brother. “He's the
draconian filter, and he and Alison both said yes really easily, which
was a surprise. We decided to get our other brother, Andrew, who's a
brilliant musician, to join as well.”

The success of what was initially a one-off appearance at the
Powys-based Hay Festival of Literature and Arts led to more shows which
grown-up commitments would allow for. YMG's most recent appearance was
at a festival in Laugharne, the Carmarthenshire town where poet Dylan
Thomas lived and was inspired to write Under Milk Wood. While in
Moxham's mind, at least, the show wasn't a musical success - “those
songs have to be played not just note perfect, but with feeling, and if
there's a mistake, it screams out because there's so little there,” -
he nevertheless had a minor epiphany.

“So now we've got three brothers and an ex-girlfriend who's really an
honorary member of the family in the band,” he says, “and I only
realised when we were in Laugharne that this really is a family affair.
We've been going to Laugharne since we were toddlers, and I realised
that being in a band, you have to give it as much love and care as you
would with any family. That was a great revelation to me. I've always
had frustrations with this band, but now that I've realised that, I
think it might be easier.”

Seven years on from the reunion, there is still no sign of that
difficult second album.

“That's another frustration,” Moxham reflects. “We reformed to do this
particular thing, and said we weren't going to be an eighties comeback
band, but here we are. I would love to make a new record,  but making
music with people is like having sex. You have to make yourself
vulnerable. We're all desperate to do it, and there's so much going on
under the surface. We're all artistically and spiritually richer people
since we last wrote together thirty-four years ago, so I hope it will
happen.”

Young Marble Giants, Stereo, Glasgow, October 20.
www.stereocafebar.com

The Herald, October 17th 2014


ends