Arab Strap’s first record for their new (major) label is a recording of last September’s Royal Festival Hall concert, which I attended. Perhaps it was something to do with the surroundings, but I didn’t much like the atmosphere on the night. Imagine my suprise then, when listening to this recording has really brought the songs on their two Chemikal Underground records, The Weekend Never Starts Around Here and Philophobia to life in a way I never remembered the concert doing.
Arab Strap’s ballads should be legendary by now. Aidan Moffat’s tales of missed opportunities and bad relationships probably remind most of us of those younger exploratory times, evoking equal amounts of amusement and cringe factor. On Mad for Sadness they are ballads with attitude — Aidan’s visible indifferent attitude is blown on songs like “Girls of Summer” and “Packs of Three,” and as I remember, Adele Bethel stormed on and off the stage for duets with Aidan on “Toy Fights” and “Afterwards.”
Sitting in my allocated leather chair that night amongst fellow Strapettes, I remember thinking it wasn’t a classic evening, but somehow the recording of the concert has become a classic anyway.
This review appears courtesy of Motion. Written by David Thorpe.