“This group has always had a great welcome in Scotland. Put your hands together for the Tom Tom Club,” says local radio DJ and ‘Daily Record’ music journalist Billy Sloan. He is introducing Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s band, which began as a Talking Heads’ offshoot and has become their main focus, to the audience in their only Scottish date of the year.

This both is and isn’t true. Tickets sales for tonight’s show have been somewhat underwhelming, and the gig has been shifted from the ABC’s upstairs main room which can hold 1,250 to its downstairs lower neighbour which has a capacity of just 350. The Tom Tom Club, however, seem completely undented by this and are clearly relishing the rare opportunity of playing a small club date, quickly pulling the audience in the now rammed room into their party.

Drummer Frantz and bassist Weymouth, who are 34 years married, are an endearing couple. The ultra-jolly Frantz, grinning profusely behind his kit at the back of stage, has adopted the role of the band’s cheerleader. “We’re in SCOTLAND,” he bellows good naturedly at one point between numbers. “It’s great to be back in GLAASSGAE,” he rasps a few seconds later in one of the most hammy impersonations of a Scottish accent his country has ever produced since Star Trek’s Scottie hung up his engineering boots. His wife glances briefly over at him with long-suffering humour. Then, with her long blonde hair in bunches, red bass guitar slung around her neck, sixty years young, she starts to skip nimbly about the stage again as the band move into the next song.

The Tom Tom Club have rightly won much acclaim for their five studio albums which merge together reggae, dub, funk, soul and new wave sounds. What shines through though tonight is their agility as a stage act, and boundless sense of energy and fun.

The Americans are in Glasgow as part of a tour to promote their thirtieth anniversary, and also to promote a reissue of a 2003 live album, ‘Live at the Clubhouse’, which recorded in 2001 and re-entitled ‘Genius of Live’ has been released in a double CD edition with a set of eleven DJ remixes of their best known song, ‘Genius of Love’.

The Tom Tom Club have always operated as a consortium, consisting of Frantz and Weymouth and whoever else they want to rope in. From the moment they arrive on stage until they finally leave it 90 minutes later, tonight’s six piece version of the Tom Tom Club don’t let up for breath.

Weymouth and the band’s other vocalist, the gymnastic Victoria Clamp who has sung on and off with the band since 1989, bounce exuberantly up and down, and occasionally lock hips as they swirl back and forth past each other across the tight stage. Bruce Martin jumps effortlessly between keyboards and percussion, and perpetually grinning South American guitarist Pablo Martin is a phenomenal presence with his enormous licks of funk guitar. Only scratcher and turntableist Kid Ginseng, Weymouth’s and Frantz’s son and the youngest member of the band, is a slightly more impassive figure, his face hidden beneath a thick beard and Big Audio Dynamite hat as he stands behind his turntables next to his father’s drum kit at the back. As the set ends, and he steps forwards to bow at the exhausted, but still enthusiastic audience, he, however, breaks into a huge teeth-bearing smile, revealing that he is has been as much into the party as his parents and the other two members of the band are.

The set consists of many of the songs that appear on ‘Genius of Live’- ‘Who Feelin’ It’, ‘She’s Dangerous’, ‘Punk Lolita’, ‘The Man with the 4-Way Hips’ and ‘Suboceana’. There is also, however, a superb version of ‘L’Elephant’, which finds Weymouth making a rare lone turn on vocals, and a calypso-style cover of the Drifters’ 1964 hit, ‘Under the Boardwalk’, both from the group’s eponymous 1981 album. The main set in concluded with the squiggling funk/rap of ‘Genius of Love’, a sublime cover of Hot Chocolate’s 1975 single ‘You Sexy Thing’, and ‘Wordy Rappinghood’, in which Bruce Martin’s rattling percussion and Kid Ginseng’s scratches firework together like the sound of a hundred typewriters going off in unison.

The last two songs and the encores are Talking Heads’ numbers. There is a cover of a cover of a cover with an outing for ‘Take Me to the River’, which the Talking Heads in turn took from Al Green. Then finally there is ‘Psycho Killer’, in which in contrast to David Byrne’s wired and nervy rendition, Weymouth and Clamp seem deliriously ecstatic and upbeat.

Tonight’s show with regard to turn-out must have been a disappointment. The Tom Tom Tom Club, however, could possibly be the happiest band on the planet.


Set List:

Who Feeling’ It
She’s Dangerous
Punk Lolita
L’Elephant
On & On
Under the Boardwalk
The Man with the 4-Way Hips
Suboceana
Don’t Say No
Kiss Me When I Get Back
Genius of Love
You Sexy thing
Wordy Rappinghood

Encores:

Take Me to the River
Psycho Killer












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