Arab Strap - Glasgow Barrowlands
Live Review

Arab Strap – Glasgow Barrowlands

Let’s toast the latest romance

Those of us who have listened to Arab Strap since we were old enough to get rat-arsed in the park would have been forgiven for thinking we’d seen the last of them at their alleged retirement way back in 2006.

Back then, the band’s 10 years of tears apparently meant the end of things. Or maybe not. Like all of the best doomed, long, lost but never forgotten loves, the idea of matters maybe being ‘not entirely over’ was something to cling to, which is why it was cause for celebration when Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton announced plans for a reunion tour earlier this year.

Their heartfelt and explicit tales of excess, comedowns, sex, failed relationships and subsequent misery was something a lot of people like me could, and remain able to relate to. For those of us of a certain age, they will always be the older brother who knows better, who’s shagged, snorted and suffered more situations than a guy could cope with. And those people have been playing catch up for years. Perhaps one should be careful when on the edge of living vicariously, but it’s hard not to when dealing with these types of lyrics.

“It was the biggest cock you’d ever seen, but you’d no idea where that cock has been…I was drunk and I told you I was thinking about a test. You know I just said it for effect. Then you laughed and said I’d fuck anything in a skirt once I’m erect.”

The band’s final (we presume) gig from their UK tour at Glasgow’s Barrowlands was another of many celebratory gatherings to raise another glass to Aidan and Malky. From the almost sickly gloomy opening lines of ‘Stink’ (burn these sheets that we’ve just fucked in) to the romantic melancholy of ‘New Birds’ (You can’t remember how she kissed, but now you have the perfect chance to find out) we were back on much loved familiar ground.

Midway through the set the smell of smoke signalled potential warning signs. Turns out, a small fire had started in the band’s dressing room, and in a funny way, if it had actually brought the Barras to dust, may have been a fitting send off for Arab Strap; that is, if they had already performed what most of us would probably agree to be the ‘classic’ tunes. Namely, ‘The First Big Weekend’ and ‘The Shy Retirer’, both upbeat in tempo, juxtaposed with dark, morose and at times comical lyrical content.

“Another bloated disco, another sniff of romance that I’ll forget” is words we were all relating to as Aidan belted them out, as well as lines we’d be hearing in our heads the following morning, once the gig and subsequent after show party at Nice and Sleazies was over.

“Not everything must end, not every romance must descend.”


Venue: Glasgow Barrowlands
Support Band: none

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