Live review: Malcolm Middleton @ Mono, Glasgow

“If I knew it was going to be this sunny I wouldn’t have brought the album out this week.” You can always rely on MALCOLM MIDDLETON to waste little time in playing the miserable card, even at a free gig to mark the launch of his fifth record Waxing Gibbous.

The one-time Arab Strap guitarist has already announced that he intends to take a break from his solo career as he feels pigeonholed, but he really doesn’t have anyone but himself to blame for that. If you expect a Malcolm Middleton set to have some dour but humorous banter, unnecessary singing of the c-word and an ironic mainstream cover then you’d be spot-on tonight.

The strange thing is that the reputation of the man does a disservice to his songs. OK, so he’s not exactly a bundle of joy and his vocals are laden with world-weariness, but there’s more than enough on Waxing Gibbous to take the listener to a happy place.

Lead single Red Travellin’ Socks is fast and crazily catchy, Kiss At The Station is similarly perky guitar-pop with some gratifying cymbal use, while Shadows treads awful close to Chelsea Dagger territory as Middleton himself acknowledges (“I wake up every day sweating it sounds like The Fratellis”). You can also add the terrific Strokes-esque Subset Of The World to the list of upbeat songs from the new album, although that doesn’t get an airing at Mono.

The set ends with We’re All Going To Die – famously (in indie circles anyway) denied the Christmas No.1 spot by a mere 30 other songs – which, given that it is the only old tune he plays, seems like a wasted opportunity to show off the quality of his now-weighty back catalogue.

As appreciative applause from the crowd (or “freeloading music lovers” as the Falkirk man brands them) fills the muggy air of the busy venue, a punter cries out “one more song”, to which Middleton instantly quips: “One? I was going to play five”. And it’s one we get – a cover of Run To You by Bryan Adams of course.

4 Malcolm Middleton – Red Travellin’ Socks (album version)

4 Malcolm Middleton – New Heart
b June 26, Tolbooth, Stirling (tickets)
b June 27, The Tunnels, Aberdeen (tickets)
b June 28, King Tut’s, Glasgow (tickets)
b August 22, Sounds In The Grounds, Stornoway

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