Ten Years Of Tears.
Arab Strap – Live at The Scala London 8th November 2006.
This is an end of an era. Falkirk’s finest sons Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat have decided to call an end to Arab Strap after 10 years of rambling, miserable, drunken beautiful music.
In 1996 they recorded their first single ‘The First Big Weekend’ to acclaim from the press and music fans alike. It was the story of Scotland’s exit from Euro 96 and told tales of broken love affairs and an excess drink and drugs. Moffat’s spoken word, virtually incoherent at times, vocals was, counterpointed by Middleton’s beautiful guitar playing. It was one of the singles of the year and helped to put The Strap on the map. That, and their shambolic gigs. Moffat was at times so pissed that he just mumbled into the microphone. On one famous occasion whilst supporting Mogwai they were so bad the audience invaded the stage. Now that doesn’t happen everyday.
They have moved on since those days and are now a very good live act. They don’t indulge as much as they used to and it seems that their lyrical content is not quite as vitriolic as it used to. As this point I’d like advise that if you are thinking of going out with Aidan Moffat I’d advise you think again as he writes in minute detail about failed relationships. I’m not sure that he changes the names to protect the innocent either.
And so Arab Strap are on their final tour before calling it a day and Jock Pop and I made our way to Kings Cross to see our final Arab Strap gig. In short, they were magnificent and is probably my best gig of the year. When I go to gigs I always have a wish list of what I’d like to hear and most of the time you get to hear some of your favourite tracks. Inevitably though you don’t get to hear everything you want, especially if a band has had a ten-year career. Last night was different. During the 115 minute set Arab Strap played everything on my list. I won’t bore you with details of the track listings but suffice it to say they covered all their six studio albums, played early singles and B-sides as well as later material. Aidan was really up for chatting to the crowd and Malcolm played wonderfully, especially during the 5-song encore when he switched to acoustic guitar. They are not a demonstrative pair but they did look like they enjoyed themselves. I wish the lads well in what ever they choose to do next. They are going to be missed. As Aidan said at the end of the gig last night:
“We have been Arab Strap, thank you for listening. Goodnight.”