IF THERE’S any justice, the masterful mix of the personal and the political on Steve Mason’s new album Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time is propelling him away from a respectable if low-key after-career as the Beta Band’s singer and towards new and long overdue recognition as one of the most gifted mavericks working in British music.
King Tut’s, Glasgow
Admittedly the crowd was mostly men approaching middle age, who weren’t shy with cheers and laughter when Mason repeated Frankie Boyle’s most merciless Thatcher joke, but the heightened testosterone levels in the room shouldn’t detract from the salt-and-pepper-bearded Fifer’s sensitivity as both a songwriter and a fierce, self-analysing lyricist. The earliest part of the show crept into life with the album’s lighter material, including the breezy but reflective guitar-pop of Oh My Lord and A Lot of Love, and Lie Awake’s hazy trip-hop recollection of Mason’s teenage political awakening.
A short but well-received diversion into the dubby styles of his earlier work, however – including the title track of previous record Boys Outside – and the harder-edged material came out.
First, the heavy-bassed call to musical emancipation that is Never Be Alone and then the new record’s signature track Fight Them Back – surely one of the most uncompromising protest songs of our times.
It shot a charge through the room as the string-heavy chorus kicked in, and any artist who can elicit such a reaction deserves to be taken notice of.