Arab Strap

Arab Strap


It may be the faint stirrings of Christmas commercialism or the sour aftermath of Brexit Britain but there seems no better time to welcome back our favourite Scottish curmudgeons Arab Strap.  The band have returned to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a handful of special live shows on the back of the recent release of 20 Songs For 20 Years a double album of Arab Strap ‘secret hits and rarities’.  The album reflects a 10 year career that was as influential as it was controversial.

It’s an early start at The Ritz but there is a healthy excitable crowd ready for the band and a general air of anticipation.  A casually attired and lushly bearded Aidan Moffat coupled with fellow Arab Strap partner the understated Malcolm Middleton arrive on stage to the echoes of ‘Loch Leven Intro’ and start with ‘Stink’ which provides us with Arab Strap in microcosm seedy yet intelligent lyrics from Moffat exemplifying life’s grubby intricacies, ‘my sharp exit could not have been quicker, but my excuse could have been a bit slicker’, as Moffat intones over Middleton’s fine guitar interplay.

There soon follows the moving ‘New Birds’ with Moffat quick to own the stage as he prowls around wandering to the front to take in the atmosphere from the crowd ably supported with Middeton and a fine backing band fleshing out the delicacies of the song.

The two hour set fully encapsulates all aspects of their career from the lofi sounds of ‘New Birds’ to the band’s later more musically adept output which is finely demonstrated by ‘Speed Date’ where the band are joined on stage by a trumpet player to add to their already impressive sound and the awesome ‘F***ing Little B***ards’ with its pounding drums and souring guitars and feedback.  The crowd lap up the entire show and for ‘Piglet’ many of the audience join the Moffat’s chorus of, ‘I didn’t shag him, he slept on the couch in the kitchen. He might as well be a girl, he’s a good for a laugh and he’s good for bitchin’.  The band end their set with their breakthrough song ‘First Weekend Of The Summer’ where Moffat finely delivers his trademark monologue of spending the weekend clubbing and trying to pick up girls

For the encore the band take the innovative step of allowing the audience to choose two songs from their back catalogue to play acoustic.  After some jovial joshing from Moffat about the previous night’s London audience ‘not getting the arrangement’ and some comedic touches between Moffat and Middleton as they finger through the requests, Moffat chooses ‘Amor Veneris’ for Nick and Lisa, a delicate paean to the intricacies of love, ‘it’s best in the morning when we know it won’t be rushed’.

The band end their triumphant return with three of their (imo) career highlights the muscular ‘Cherubs’ and ‘Here We Go’ before ending on the reflective ‘Soaps’ which provide a fitting end to a superb night.  One can only hope that it’s not another 10 years before we see their return again.

Arab Strap  Official | FacebookLabel

Jonathan Roby

Overgrown indie kid with a penchant for americana, psych and weird folk.