John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Live reviews

Venus In Furs
Walking the Dog
Helen of Troy
Dancing Undercover
Femme Fatale/Rosegarden Funeral of Sores
Dirty Ass Rock'n'Roll
Look Horizon
Cable Hogue
Set Me Free
Ship of Fools
Sold Motel
Leaving It Up To You
Gravel Drive
Heartbreak Hotel

Glasgow 2006-01-28

ABC, Glasgow, UK
Review by Fraser Allen

The Island Years, HoboSapiens and blackAcetate provided the backbone for an exhilarating set from Cale, supported by a talented and relaxed three-piece. In truth, it wasn't the best gig for atmosphere. Sauntering onstage surprisingly early and launching straight into Venus In Furs, Cale wrong-footed the audience, many of whom missed the first two or three songs. The refurbished ABC venue was also a little too large for Cale's loyal but marginal following - although with plenty of space near the front, it was a great chance to see him perform up close. Sporting tousled grey hair and goatee, a paunch-hugging polo shirt and jeans with turn-ups, he was a more stocky, puckish figure than on his last trip to Scotland (Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms, December 2003). And while he concentrated on the music rather than any interaction with the audience (bar an angry altercation with a woman videoing him on her phone) it was a fascinating and stirring set, full of energy and imagination.

As has been his habit in recent years, Cale plundered his back catalogue in a totally unpredictable manner. Who would have guessed that the second and third tracks on his setlist would be Walking The Dog and Evidence (only available on the 70s live album Sabotage)? Cale's three 70s albums recorded on Island were also revisited several times through Guts, Heartbreak Hotel, Cable Hogue, Dirty Ass Rock 'n' Roll and the brilliant Leaving It Up To You. However, the pick of the bunch was probably the rarely performed Helen of Troy - with raucous backing vocals, it was far more powerful and direct than the original.

The biggest surprise of the night though came with an arrangement that combined two songs. Who but Cale would think of morphing the Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale with his obscure 70s EP track Rose Garden Funeral Of Sores - and giving it a cheesy, synth-C&W workout for good measure? Naturally, it was brilliant to watch. Thrilling, beguiling and not a little disturbing. "Perfection," screamed a young woman leaping ecstatically in her furry coat. I kind of agreed with her, but the reason we all like Cale so much is that he is far too edgy to settle for something as mundane as perfection.

Hobosapiens also featured with performances of Magritte, Things and Look Horizon. The new album was mainly saved for the end, and went down well with the crowd. Woman worked brilliantly live and Perfect got the biggest roar of the evening. He also played Hush, Sold Motel and Gravel Drive. The latter featured just two guitars and Cale's voice, providing a brilliant encore. Shame that two of the idiots from the videophone group ruined it by talking loudly throughout. As Cale himself sang earlier: "It's embarrassing/ I don't want them talking to me any more."

© 1999- Hans Werksman