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Fragile egos mighty Quinn

David Belcher keeps company

with the people who think they

matter and savours a hip mix of

movie night and rock gig

FREE bourbon! A celebrity throng elbowed themselves loudly into the Glasgow Film Theatre's bar.

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The famous; the semi-famous; the not-even-famous-for-15-seconds. Rock babes of every gender. Nightclub auteurs. Dreadlocked conceptual artists. Embittered journos griping to each other about whose name rates a credit in Victor Bockris's hip new Lou Reed biography and whose doesn't: mine certainly does -- doesn't yours?

My dears, had a bomb dropped on Rose Street on Wednesday night, I swear that the plain people of Glasgow would have instantly swarmed out and formed a human barricade in order to deny access to all rescue agencies.

As well as being there to be seen being there, we were there to experience Cheap Flights, of course. Paul Quinn and the Independent Group playing. Extracts from Midnight Cowboy, The Loveless and Taxi Driver being screened behind them.

A girl in tacky red satin hot-pants wandered around, a 3-D homage to Jodie Foster's big league film debut as an underage hooker. Harley Davidson motorcycles shone and bulged in the foyer. Rotating glitterballs hung above us, spattering starlight. All part of a Postcard mixed-media happening, conceptualised by Postcard supremo Alan Horne.

We framed our expectations with brittle, desultory epigrams. Were we in at the death of post-modernism or the birth of most-modernism? The GFT stairs were strewn with dollar bills -- symbolic of what, counterfeit or real? And if the latter, would anyone risk their cred by trousering a handful? Were we meant to? Was that the point? What was the point? Maybe the point was that there was no point . . .

We took our seats in the cinema to a soundtrack encompassing the Ronettes, vintage soul, bursts of movie dialogue, seventies reggae, and Ennio Morricone. Clouds of dry ice rolled out from the stage. Our rules of engagement had become similarly fogged.

Was this a rock gig or a night at the flicks? What were we supposed to do? What to think? How to act? Where's me chuffin' popcorn? Sit back and watch; keep an on eye on your responses. Yet in monitoring one's responses, does one thus deny their emotional validity? Are we the sum of our limitations? Equally importantly, had Del Amitri's Justin Currie really dyed his hair blonde again, and how long would the free bar stay open?

Luis Bunuel's venerated Un Chien Andalou flickered on to the screen, a macabre dreamscape co-authored in 1928 by Salvador Dali. Surreal and satirical. Sliced eyeballs; dismembered hands; two pianos with priests and dead horses attached. Scattered applause when it ended.

Stage-front, Jodie Foster assumed a recumbent adorational posture. Out came the band: James Kirk, Campbell Owens, Andy Alston, Skip Reid, Mick Slaven. Seasoned Postcard hands. And shyly slipping in through a side door, Paul Quinn.

Paul's tumbling quiff appeared exquisitely tortured, his darting hands failing to keep it in check. His mobile mouth inspired erotic awe. More cogently, on Wednesday night his voice was incredible, at once languid and on the edge. An adult voice, shot through with woe. Paradoxically, this vocal quality is underlined by the gamine nature of Quinn's on-stage demeanour.

When he wasn't hunkering down for a rest, glancing up over his shoulder at what was on the screen behind him, or rummaging absently through his pockets, he'd be exchanging shy smiles with Jodie Foster.

Some of the songs from his forthcoming album, Will I Ever Be Inside of You, muddy themselves into a moody sameness that is inadvertently highlighted by Paul's plangent readings of two stronger songs: Superstar, as first syrupily warbled by the ghastly Carpenters, and Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue.

But it must be said that the LP's title track is an impossibly creamy, swoony triumph. Paul's performance of it, with contrapuntal assistance from the leather-clad Jane-Marie O'Brien, hot-foot from Scottish Opera, put the evening into perspective. Despite the looming monochrome presence of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, and despite the multi-coloured swirls of dry ice, all that really mattered was Paul Quinn's voice.

Even when he was only using it to cornily-magnificent effect during his duet with Ms O'Brien on George McCrae's disco anthem It's Been So Long.

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