Formally half of the much loved and missed Arab Strap, Malcolm Middleton's solo career revealed unexpected pop sensibilities. Sure, he's no happier, and he's just as foul mouthed, but this time he does it with added melody and pop hooks.
Tonight's show at the Scala comes a week ahead of his unexpected stab at the Christmas number 1 with his typically jovial "We're All Going To Die". Originally the gesture started as a joke, but with the surprise backing of Radio 1, is now a genuine contender with odds of 12/1. Of course, it'll never happen - no doubt the X-Factor freak show will see to that - but if this gives him the exposure he deserves, and he can escape being pigeonholed a novelty, then that's got to be a good thing
Tonight's set is drawn almost entirely from his last two albums ("A Brighter Beat" & "Into The Woods). Inevitably, "We're All Going To Die" is greeted with the biggest cheer of the night. He follows it up with one of his finest songs, the genuinely heartbreaking "Up Late At Night Again", for which the audience falls in to a reverential silence
Keeping the festive theme running, he comes back for an acoustic "Burst Noel" ("When good King Wenceslas looked out, Everything was fucked " before being rejoined by the band for "Fight Like The Night" and finally "A Happy Medium" ("Woke Up again today, realise I hate myself, my face is a disease ") It may be Christmas, but mercifully Malcolm isn't going to let the season of goodwill get in the way of a good grumble, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Words and photo by Martin Hills.