Arab Strap

Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

Stuart Morrison

four stars

The bagpipes skirled and eleven years after Malcolm Middleton said "unless there’s a definite need for us to play, I don’t think we should ever get back together", he and Aidan Moffat, evidently back together, strode out onto the Bandstand stage.

To be fair, the Falkirk duo have been back together since they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year, and this was just the latest of a string of comeback gigs. Little had changed, of course. The impressive band, led by Middleton’s deft guitar work, made a much bigger and fuller racket than was evident in 1996, but it was Moffat’s irredeemably miserabilist, obscenity-laden tales of chaotic lifestyles, drink and drug fuelled sexual encounters, successful or otherwise, that really defined the band and he wasted no time in getting tore in. Packs of Three, from 1998’s Philophobia, kicked off proceedings in typical fashion, and whilst it would be illuminating to offer quotations from the lyrics, it would, almost certainly, result in the editor suffering a seizure. Suffice to say that, after an observation on a physically impressive anatomical feature, the deduction was made that congress had occurred one more time than the available number of prophylactics should have allowed. Scenery, from The Red Thread, was the closest they came to a straight song, with some excellent work from the band. And it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Moffat dedicated The First Big Weekend to his young son, Samuel, who was in the audience. "Do none of the things you hear in this song," he advised. It encapsulated everything Arab Strap are about. Football, drink, drugs, sex and the Simpsons. Folk music for the Trainspotting generation.