October 16, 2010
Austin, TX USA
Review by Roy Turner
Photos by Roy Turner
I was shocked when I entered Emo's to find the place nearly packed. How could so many people possibly remember obscure Glasgow band the Vaselines, who broke up in 1990 after releasing one album and a couple of EPs? Surely, there can't be that many Kurt Cobain fags still around who recall (or care) that Nirvana took them out on tour, and covered a ton of their stuff (Molly's Lips , Son of a Gun and Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam) - and that Cobain named his daughter Frances Bean after one of the Vaselines' vocalists, Frances McKee. Now they are back and touring second album Sex With An X more simple but classic songs based on mundane matters that are catchy as hell.
The Scottish outfit's other singer, Eugene Kelly, looked somewhat baffled when he and McKee strode onstage, backed by guitar, bass and drums. "Can you see my knickers under this dress?...cause I feel like you can," McKee smirked. She was playing a Gretch hollow-body guitar that was twice her size as they launched into Monsterpussy , a perfect recreation of their somewhat twee, boy/girl vocal tandem with Velvet Underground-style buzzsaw guitar. It sounded as though they had never left.
"You're probably wondering why it's been so long since our album came out," said an earnest McKee, giggling nervously. "Well, we're finally getting around to touring for the album."
"Actually, Frances has spent a lot of time in jail, writing depressing songs," joked Kelly.
The new material, sprinkled in among their early stuff, is moodier, slower and quieter. After taking flak from McKee for his ever-present guitar-tuning problems, Kelly responded with, "Yeah, I'm the straight man, and you're the funny girl." Kelly drew a slight nervousness from the crowd when he announced, "This song's about the Lord God, Jesus Christ," then paused a full 10 seconds before adding, "And how I don't believe in him." If there were any lingering doubts, Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam and Teenage Superstar answered all questions about the Vaselines' lapsed state of conventional spiritual awareness.
"You've made an old couple very happy," said Kelly at the conclusion of the show, which was at times a bit dull, never unpleasant, and just a bit boring. It was the constant mutual roasting between songs that were actually as interesting if not more entertaining than the actual songs. "We're just like Donnie & Marie," he said, pointing a thumb at McKee. "She's a little bit country, and I'm a little bit rock 'n' roll." Rather than the pre-fab Mormon duo, it was more like the return of the barb- and wisecrack-filled glory days of Sonny & Cher.