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Malcolm Middleton - Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 13/1/2007

  by John Clarkson

published: 12 / 2 / 2007

Malcolm Middleton - Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 13/1/2007


At a support date to Badly Drawn the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, John Clarkson enjoys a set of blackly humorous acoustic pop from former Arab Strap guitarist, Malcolm Middleton

In a recent interview with Pennyblackmusic, Malcolm Middleton said that he doesn’t see himself as a front man in the traditional sense. After a decade of standing taciturnly playing guitar behind the belligerently charismatic Aidan Moffatt in the ever controversial Arab Strap, it would be a difficult role for him to play up to. Looking like a red-headed version of Phil Mitchell, and similarly curt in manner, Middleton, in the Queen’s Hall tonight to play a half an hour support set to Badly Drawn Boy, seems, as he walks onto the stage and tunes up his acoustic guitar, on the surface an imposing and threatening presence. Yet, as soon as launches into his first number, folk song ‘Devastation’, it becomes clear that any abruptness on Middleton’s behalf comes out of awkward sensitivity rather than any macho, hard man posturing. ‘Devastation’, like nearly all the songs in tonight’s eight song set , captures the shy longings and bruised uncertainty of the socially inarticulate Scottish male. “I have never been so lonely as when you are in the next room” Middleton sings with a thick Falkirk twang, but one knows that he would never ever tell his girlfriend this. Approximately half of the set tonight consists of stripped down, acoustic versions of songs from Middleton’s about-to-be-released, excellent third solo album, ‘A Brighter Beat’. The Celtic jangle of ‘We’re All Going to Die’ finds him trying to come to terms with the inevitable. The stripped-to-bones fluttery pop of ‘Fuck It, I Love You’ has him tongue-tied as he tries to tell a lover his feelings for her, while the swirling, thrusting title track is an anthem for those people who prefer to stay in rather than to go out and party or socialize. Although angst-ridden and tortured, there is a lot of humour in his songs too. The penultimate song, ‘Devil and the Angel’ from his previous album ‘5.14 Fluotxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine’, is especially funny and finds Middleton being visited in his dreams by a devil and angel, one who tells him that his songs are “shite”, and the other “alright”. It leaves much of the audience choking with laughter. Middleton says little between songs, stopping only briefly to mention that drummer Scott Simpson, a former member of Arab Strap and the only musician on stage with him, has picked up a speeding ticket today. The songs, however, speak for themselves, and this is a fine performance. Malcolm Middleton is a very different front man from Aidan Moffatt, but for all the self-doubt of his songs, he is an equally forceful presence.

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Malcolm Middleton - Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 13/1/2007

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Interview (2009)
Malcolm Middleton - Interview
Former Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton talks to John Clarkson about his just released fifth solo album, 'Waxing Gibbous', and why this will be the last record under his own name for the immediate future
Interview (2007)

live reviews

Union Chapel, London, 2/4/2008
Malcolm Middleton - Union Chapel, London, 2/4/2008
In London's spectacular Union Chapel venue, Chris O' Toole sees Scottish singer-songwriter Malcolm Middleton perform a witty and polished, but surprisingly subdued concert
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, 6/12/2007
Dingwalls, London, 20/2/2007


Malcolm Middleton (2010)
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Anna Gudaniec photographs Scottish singer-songwriter and former Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton at an acoustic solo at the Borderline in London


Sleight of Heart (2008)
Fine largely acoustic fourth solo album from former Arab Strap guitarist and Scots melancholist, Malcolm Middleton

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