- 05 Feb 19
If misery truly did love company Malcolm Middleton would be up the road headlining 3Arena. Instead, the one-time guitar-bashing half of Arab Strap was playing to a more modest room of true believers. But the angst was stadium-sized, even as Middleton’s wit, glistening like salt on a frosty backroad, ensured it was an evening of highs as well as lows.
He was touring his fantastic new album Bananas – a slice-of life-chronicling wherein the now 45 year-old suburban dad enumerated the ways in which everyday existence (the school run, being confused for fellow Scottish troubadour James Yorkston) can make you laugh and cry, often at the same time.
The overwhelming tone was wry misanthropy. There was an early blast of Valentine’s Day humbug on ‘Love Is A Momentary Lapse in Self Loathing’ and it was later confirmed that he was just getting started as he plunged into ‘We’re All Going To Die’.
But Middleton, in a baseball cap and playing acoustic guitar, sometimes pulled back the shutters and allowed a glimmer in. ‘Autumn’, which he acknowledged he was playing at entirely the wrong time of year, was a homage to seasonal solitude.
And ‘Buzz Lightyear Helmet’ acknowledged that domesticity has its upsides as well as its soul-sapping moments. Not quite the feel good gig of the year – but one that took the measure of life and concluded that, on balance, it’s better to stick your chin out and plod than to wallow with your ghosts.