The Vaselines return on form


The Vaselines, Bristol Thekla, 21/9/2010

The Thekla in Bristol is a one of a kind venue. The club itself is based aboard a ship and I must confess it’s a strange experience watching a band in a place that can rightly claim to be sea-worthy. Despite the old vessel’s unique location; moored on Bristol’s mud-dock, tonight’s gig does breath an air of familiarity and I’m not talking about that horrible small venue toilet smell. I am in fact referring to tonight’s band the Vaselines; and partly to the presence of this scruffy lad with bushy, blond hair who moshes and dances too enthusiastically. I’ve seen him at so many Bristol gigs now that I might base my next write up solely on him. For now however you may enjoy his bouffant hair spoiling all my pictures.

Back to the Vaselines, this tour marks the return of the Glaswegian cult favourites after 21 years, tonight being particularly special as they reveal halfway through their set that Bristol was the location of their first ever gig.  Since then their songs have become indie classics. Songs such as ‘son of a gun’, which sounds fresh and buoyant tonight despite being released 23 years ago.

The set is strong tonight as the songs sound so recognisable, hardly surprising due to the influence the band had on more commercial acts such as Nirvana. The grunge group covered songs played tonight such as ‘Jesus don’t want for me for a sunbeam’ which even appeared on their seminal unplugged album.

In the audience tonight, there are plenty of Kurt Cobain lookalikes to prove this influence. Scruffy blond lad however is of course a true individual . The new songs keep to their same songwriting mould, but slot in perfectly with their legacy. Great song after Great song did mean that it seemed like the Thekla’s curfew time came around far too soon, including the time for my train back to Cardiff. As a result, I couldn’t spare the time to catch up with Eugene and Frances from the band, but if you attend one of their shows you’ll soon learn that they aren’t exactly the most aloof and mysterious pair. They spoke to the audience with a constant stream of sexual innuendos, even unashamedly washing the band’s dirty clothes in public at one point when Frances exclaimed ‘Well Eugene, I had to make my own way in the world after you dumped me’ making some of the set about as awkward as watching scruffy blond lad at a job interview. Still, it would have been nice to ask them questions like who they think could play Kurt Cobain in an upcoming biopic, or whether their rangers or celtic or simply how it feels playing together after such a long time. Yet, as tonight shows, a little familiarity isn’t a bad thing.

Kieran Owen


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