Thursday, 22 November 2012

Gig Review - Jo Mango @ The Glad Cafe

week ago on Saturday I ventured out in the dark night to Pollockshaws Road in Shawlands to a fabulous new venue, The Glad Cafe.  And boy was I glad (first and last pun I promise) I did!

The occasion was the official album launch of Jo Mango's latest LP 'Murmuration', which dropped on 5th November via Olive Grove Records, and support was provided by Admiral Fallow front-man Louis Abbot and album producer Adem.

As you can see from the pictures the stage in The Glad Cafe was lovingly adorned with a murmuration of hand knitted Arctic terns, upon to which clambered Louis Abbot.  Shorn of his beard and almost trademark beanie hat, he remained in fine voice, despite as he informed the crowd risking losing it as his beloved Hiberian topped the SPL table that very afternoon.  For fans of Admiral Fallow it was a change to see many of the bands hits, including 'Dead Against Smoking', 'Old Fools' and 'These Barren Years', performed stripped back and acoustically.  For anyone unaware of Admiral Fallow (not likely given their first album was released initially on Jo Mango's imprint label Lo-Five Records) they would have witness in Abbot a song writer of immense talent and great craftsmanship.  Highlight of the set was Jo Mango joining Abbot on stage for a rendition of 'Beetle In The Box', before the set ending with a cover of a Joanna Newson song.

'Murmuration' producer Adem is next on stage, and with his soaring high vocals somewhat betrays his appearance.  'Small Things' is a soft and gentle love song, and 'Love And Other Planets' utilises guitar pedals to haunting effect.  The whole set is tinged with meloncoly, although Adem at one point teases the crowd with the offer of a rave song played on the piano!  Flitting between guitar and piano, and offering some glimpses of 'works in progress' it's an excellent set from another fine musician.  To rapturous cheers Adem ends with a cover of Low's 'Laser Beam'.  Great stuff.

Amidst a vast array of intricate musical instruments, some so small they look they may break if played, and the murmuration of terns which hang from the ceiling, Jo Mango and her band snuggle onto the stage.  Given the length of time this album has taken, and that Jo herself has just completed a PhD in Musicology, it's almost a given that each track displays creative and inventive qualities.  On 'The Moth And The Moon' there's the reverberation of a xylophone being played with a bow, whereas 'Bird Song' utilises claps, delicate harp and instruments I'd  be lying if I said I knew what they were called.  Each sound is carefully considered and is part of the overall whole.  Not a single note is unintentional or out of place.  A multi-instrumentalist herself, Jo switches between guitar and piano for tracks such as 'Ludwig' and 'Blue Dawn Light', which contains one of my favourite lyrics, "life could get very dull if you knew what came next."

During the set, there's some explanation from Jo regarding the making and process of this album, indeed at one point it may not have happened at all.  There's also an airing for a couple of new songs, which are of the similar same high standard as those on the album.  The venue and the warm music was contributing to a very intimate and cosy evening, and during 'The Black Sun' the male vocal choir who's chanting emanated from amongst the crowd served to wrap the crowd up in a glorious and accomplished blanket of sound.  Truly it was a joy, and as I scanned the room I couldn't see a glum face anywhere.  'Murmuration' is a sublime album, and as Jo played closing track 'Chordelia' she ended an equally impressive live performance.

Grab yourself a copy of 'Murmuration' here and check out Jo Mango live at Platform on 1st December, or The Glad Cafe on 14th December.

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