Gig review: Chain & the Gang

Chain & the GangStereo, Glasgow****

In TIMES of global uncertainty, paranoia and depression – so that's basically at all times – you could do far worse than turn to Ian Svenonius, the resident oracle of the Washington DC underground, for witty words of wisdom, a penetrating geo-socio-political vision (US-centric, admittedly) and some damn funky tunes.

Over the past 20 years, Svenonius has helmed a series of cult musical vehicles - Nation of Ulysses, The Make-up, Weird War and now Chain & the Gang – which speak truth to power, or to any discerning ear. His followers are modest in number but they have excellent style and taste on their side.

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At this darkened basement gathering in Glasgow, Svenonius conducted a series of playful call-and-response exercises with his mischievous backing singer, his band of reprobates, including longtime wingman James Canty on guitar, and ultimately with the surprisingly well-behaved audience.

The message is … well, let's just say that if Svenonius wasn't causing his acolytes to laugh aloud at his lyrical audacity – It's A Hard, Hard Job (Keeping Everybody High), according to one of his pocket hypotheses – he would be weeping for the world as he delivered the recession blues What Is A Dollar?, the sultry social lament Youth Is Wasted On The Young and the cynical cool jerk of For Practical Purposes (I Love You).