erasing clouds

Live Review: The Pictish Trail, King Creosote, Pip Dylan, Super Shitbox, OnTheFly, Down The Tiny Steps, James Yorkston, The José, and U.N.P.O.C. @ The Art Bar, Dundee, Scotland, 16th November 2003

by anna battista

They say Dundee in the '60s was a 'swinging' town. Well, not exactly, but on a Friday night the trendiest café in Scotland, The Haparanda based in Dundee, turned into a magnet for local youth or so the story goes. We're in Dundee, but we're not exactly in the '60s and The Haparanda is well gone, yet there are some extremely good vibes in Dundee tonight. The tiny Art Bar, near the local Art College is packed with all sorts of people because this is going to be a special night. Tonight is Fence Collective night, an evening featuring some of the most underestimated bands on the planet, all on Fence Records, probably the coolest independent label based in Scotland.

The Pictish Trail's John Lynch opens the gig, his numbers are mostly acoustic guitar tracks, sometimes more gentle, sometimes more rockish. His set includes "Everything and Everyone" from the album Pick@Pictish, "Love It Is", a song about being a bad friend, and "Going Down Into The Water", a work-in-progress track performed together with King Creosote, aka Kenny Gordon, Fence founder. John is a constant presence tonight because, even when his set is over, he is around ready to tune guitars, prepare the microphones, contribute with his back vocals to other bands' sets and generally making himself useful.

After The Pictish Trail, another Fence aficionado arrives on stage, it's Pip Dylan who tells us that he's slept on the floor for a few days because his dog pissed on his bed and King Creosote still hasn't returned his sleeping bags. Besides, he adds, he's just cut one of his fingers. Misadventures aside, he proceeds to literally make us fall in love with him by singing "Walk Away" and "Bumbling Blues", both from the album Of All The Things I Can Eat, I'm Always Pleased With A Piece Of Cheese ("…and that's true," he assures us), and "Lazy Boy" from Ain't A Classical Piece, Not By A Long Shot. Pip Dylan's music sounds like Bob Dylan's, though Pip's lyrics are more funny and his tracks are sometimes laced with flamenco, a memento of the time he spent in Spain. Pip closes his set with an all's fave, "My Dog", hymn to his dog obviously, performed with King Creosote.

A sort of Fence big band follows up for the next set. Tom Bauchop from U.N.P.O.C. is going to play the shortest set ever (though he promises us he will start doing longer sets soon, hopefully in December). Tom has prepared only two songs for tonight, the ballad "Amsterdam" and the revolutionary "Nicaragua", from his first album "Fifth Column", but he's helped on the guitar by James Yorkston and on the backing vocals and accordion by John and Kenny. The band profusely apologises for having to spend a long time tuning guitars and generally organising themselves, but the end product sounds jut perfect.

More will follow later on with sets by James Yorkston, King Creosote and the rest of the Fence friends, but I won't tell you more. I'll just tell you that random Fence bands and the Fence Collective are on again around Scotland in December and later in January and you just HAVE to go and see them. They're simply brilliant.

Issue 18, December 2003

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