Celtic Connections

They Might Be Giants

O2ABC, Glasgow

Laura Kelly

Five Stars

“They just don’t say that enough about rock bands,” says John Flansburgh – one half of New York’s finest purveyors of geek rock, They Might Be Giants. “They tried really hard.”

In a career that spans than three decades, Flansy and his fellow "quasar of rock" John Linnell have put in the hours. In the last year alone, they’ve written one song every single week for their renewed Dial-a Song project. Sure, not every single one can be as sublime as their 1990 hit Birdhouse in your Soul, which gets a jubilant outing tonight, but the creativity is relentless.

By the time they hit the evening show, rounding off the last day of Celtic Connections (“what’s our link to Celtic music? We’re playing this festival”) John, John and their band have already entertained an ABC-full of under-10s and their parents. The afternoon has spelling, counting, and science facts – it’s not for nothing that these guys are from the same city as Sesame Street. Though the language is less PG for the evening performance, it has the same child-like wonder.

From They Might Be Giants – a chaotic explosion of a song from their first demo – through to the newest of the new (I Love You for Psychological Reasons) they never want for humour, experimentation or lyrical dexterity. By the time they’re covering Destiny’s Child’s Bills Bills Bills it seems completely logical that a bunch of middle aged white dudes should be schooling Beyonce.

To have They Might Be Giants’ longevity, you have to be pretty wide-ranging in your subjects. Sure enough, they tour us through surrealist dreams, obscure US presidents, a Belgian painter and an entire alphabet of nations. It’s all got the same wry outlook – and irresistible melody. They’ll make your face ache from smiling.