IT WOULD be inappropriate to review this show, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Rattlesnakes, in anything other than nostalgic terms. Worryingly, the Commotions are the first band I cared about in the eighties to mark such an occasion, and Lloyd Cole is not the only person in the building feeling old. Surely occasions like these should be reserved for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Though my own university career started two years after the album’s release, songs such as Charlotte Street and Four Flights Up both performed meant it was a quintessential eighties Glasgow student album. In essence, it was grounded in a particular place and time. That time and place seems long ago: music has moved on and the Commotions’ place appears to be little more than a worthy footnote.
Slightly surprisingly, the show comprehensively refutes this theory. Rattlesnakes musically, if not always lyrically sounds both timeless and peerless. Only REM and the Go Betweens or their contemporaries could have written such a tight set of guitar pop songs.
For the reunion, a conscious decision has been made to stick to the original versions, with nine tracks from Rattlesnakes and an assortment of later singles making up the majority of the set. Mr Malcontent and Cut Me Down are best, but the funkier My Bag and the deadpan Sean Penn Blues hint at what they may have become had they made further albums.
It is a tight and concise summary of why they were, fleetingly, a great band and a pleasurably retro 90 minutes.
Publication: The Herald
Publication date: 14/10/04