Any parents taking their kids for a balmy late evening stroll in Kelvingrove Park may have had to cover their youngsters’ ears at some of the lyrics drifting from the bandstand, as recently reunited Falkirk purveyors of very Scottish muck, mirth and misery Arap Strap got a triumphant career-spanning set under way with one of their most graphic tracks – Packs of Three.
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****
Singer Aidan Moffat takes a laissez-faire approach to being a dad meanwhile. Later in the show he dedicated a celebratory version of his influential cult band’s best-loved number – rudimentary electronic drumbeat powered poem to youthful misadventure, drugs and staying up all night The First Big Weekend – to his nine-year-old son, present in the crowd. Albeit with an important caveat: “Samuel, don’t do anything that happens in this song please”.
New material is yet to emerge since Moffat and guitarist Malcolm Middleton got Arab Strap back together last year, following their split in 2006. That meant catalogue classics aplenty – Girls of Summer, The Shy Retirer, Who Named The Days?, Here We Go and Speed Date included.
Backed by arguably the best live band they’ve ever had, they sounded lush and forceful. New Birds was particularly magnificent as its scorching post-rock instrumental roared forth beneath a darkening sky.
Adding to the tears of laughter, acerbic misery and redemption Arab Strap have always conjured, now there is a powerful pang of nostalgia – few groups will ever again hold such an emotive place in the Scottish indie music psyche. Aptly, they left with a pair of their most filthy-tender songs: a swirling (Afternoon) Soaps, and finally – done as a duo by Moffat and Middleton – a gentle Pica Luna.