The Yummy Fur @ Oran Mor, 21 Jan
Band reunions come in many sizes. Some feel it necessary to host a full-blown press conference to announce their return. But others take a more low-key approach. The Yummy Fur split in late 1999, and it’s fair to assume few people outside of Glasgow noticed. Those that did must have felt it unlikely there would ever be demand for a comeback.
Yet here they are, a fun alt-pop group headlining a show as part of the douce Celtic Connections festival. As revivals go, this has been one of the most protracted. It was announced way back in 2009 that the YF – who have always been a vehicle for Jackie McKeown’s songwriting, with a variety of supporting musicians – would reform to play some shows in the US. In the years since, they’ve averaged one or two shows, mainly in Glasgow, but always well-received.
But things have stepped up a gear. A new compilation is slated for release on Rock Action later this year, and tonight’s gig must rank as the biggest of their second coming. McKeown is in ebullient form, looking barely a year older than when the YF were in their prime. Paul Thomson, Franz Ferdinand’s sticksman, is back on drums, and Dino Bardot, latterly of the 1990s, has taken on bass duties.
St John of the Cross is an early-set highlight – 'Those Roman Catholics, think they’re fantastic!' – and offers a good summary of what the YF are all about; unique subject matter, buzzsaw riffs and a dash of glamour. They’re a better looking version of The Fall without the dour Mancunian attitude. It’s been said before that McKeown’s band were ahead of their time.; if they had been touring in 2005, rather than 1995, they would have easily outshone the many lesser DIY pop bands that were showered with record label cash. Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos is one of the few musicians from that era on record admitting his love of the group.
Tonight’s show isn’t perfect – precision playing isn’t really the YF’s forte – and like many cult acts, there’s a sense many in the crowd have known each other for a long time. But with songs as good as Plastic Cowboy and Roxy Girls, wider recognition of McKeown’s band is long overdue.
Part of Celtic Connections 2017 festival