Plenty of bands have built a legacy on a back catalogue as slim as theirs, but few have been held in such regard for so long as the Vaselines.  Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee’s smutty bickering, single entendres and playful, hooky indie rock, pitched somewhere between ’67 and ’76 with a hugely refreshing Modern Lovers/Velvets twist on more anodyne C86 values, burned brightly and briefly in the late 1980s but seemed destined to do little more.  A handful of celebrated covers by you-know-who, an iconic snap or two of you-kn0w-who’s singer in a Captain America (Kelly’s next band) t-shirt, and a word-of-mouth legend was born.

Captain America swiftly became Eugenius, and continued to benefit from superstar patronage that rather overshadowed some fine EPs and a great first album.  McKee re-emerged with a new band, Suckle, to quiet acclaim.  Kelly popped up in Cardiff in 2006, standing in for Mark Lanegan on Isobel Campbell’s tour of their first album; their encore of the Vaselines’ ‘Son Of A Gun’ made this old man, and several older still, very happy.  Still, it was an unexpected treat to see news of him reuniting with McKee for a handful of gigs in 2008, and even more so to witness the reformed Vaselines live a year later as they took to the festival circuit.  Backed up by two of Belle and Sebastian and one of the 1990s, the familiar hits managed to sound fresh and the onstage banter, albeit now between two teacherly fortysomethings, crackled with the old i-dare-you sexual tension.

To the present, and an unlikely follow-up to 1989′s sole album, the mischievously titled Sex With An X.  Little has changed lyrically, the two returning to their old ways with comfort, but there’s an implicit acknowledgment of age (particularly on the part of Kelly, playing the eye-rolling victim of McKee’s barbs) which works in their favour too.  More importantly, it doesn’t feel like a revival-tour cash-in, which it so easily could. 

The Cardiff gig’s been moved from the Millennium Music Hall to the more suitable Clwb (tickets remain valid, etc), with support from fuzzy Glaswegian psych-poppers Haight-Ashbury and pigeonhole-dodging eccentric John Mouse.  It might be another 20 years before the Vaselines return, and their sort of sailor talk would just be plain freaky from pensioners.  Best catch it this time instead.

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P4 Music presents

The Vaselines / Haight-Ashbury / John Mouse

Celebrated Glaswegian indie-poppers The Vaselines come to Clwb Ifor Bach on the 19th of September. Formed in ’86, the band released two singles, ‘Son of a Gun’ and ‘Dying for It’, prior to releasing their only album, ‘Dum Dum’, through Rough Trade in 1989. Following the closing of the record label 53rd and 3rd, which they had originally signed to, the band broke up in 1990. However, they reunited later that year to open for Nirvana when they played in Edinburgh. Though they were not widely known during their original existence, covers of their songs by Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s tendency to mention them as an influence brought exposure to the band. With their songs ‘Son of a Gun’ and ‘Molly’s Lips’ covered on Nirvana’s album ‘Incesticide and “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” covered as “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” on MTV Unplugged in New York, the band gained a new audience from people who wanted to discover the bands that influenced Cobain. The band have reformed for a small number of shows since the 90s, and return once again in 2010, playing Cardiff on the 19th of September as a part of a number of UK warm up shows in the run up to All Tomorrows Parties ‘Bowlie Weekender’ in December. Tickets cost £10 in advance (+SBF) and are available from: City Centre Ticketline: 02920 230130 www.p4music.co.uk www.seetickets.com www.ticketlineuk.com

7:30pm | £10/£12 | buy tickets

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The Vaselines / Haight-Ashbury

Thekla, Bristol

Tuesday, 21st September 7pm-10pm

£10 adv

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