Legendary Scots indie rock outfit Arab Strap are back on tour with a new album – and tickets for their ‘stripped back’ set in Lanarkshire go on sale tonight.
This latest intimate, bespoke gig from local promoter Frets events will be staged at the Strathaven Hotel on Friday, July 1 and follows the likes of The Charlatans, Altered Images and Lloyd Cole and The Bluebells.
Frets is run by well-known Strathaven musician and Creeping Bent label owner Douglas MacIntyre.
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Douglas, who did sessions for Radio 1 legend John Peel, told Lanarkshire Live: “I’m really looking forward to Arab Strap playing a stripped down concert at FRETS.
“The intimate environment of the Strathaven Hotel will be perfect for their performance.
“Arab Strap have always pushed boundaries, from their The First Big Weekend debut single through to their latest top twenty album, As Days Get Dark .”
After a 16-year hiatus, Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton have returned to the scene with a beautifully dark record As Days Get Dark .
The pioneering Falkirk duo’s seventh studio album, their first since 2005’s The Last Romance , is “about hopelessness and darkness,” says Moffat. “But in a fun way.”
Moffat and Malcolm Middleton called it a day in 2006, but got back together 10 years later to perform a series of acclaimed and sold out shows.
“We really enjoyed doing those gigs,” recalls Middleton. “So it made sense to try writing together again.”
Prior to splitting up the band released a string of acclaimed releases spanning albums such as Philophobia , The Red Thread and Monday At The Hug and Pint , several EPs and that most difficult of tasks: a genuinely stunning live album via Mad for Sadness .
Arab Strap started out as an intimate project with home-recorded tapes shared between friends, but after the unexpected success of their inimitable debut single The First Big Weekend they quickly found themselves, along with pals Mogwai, as some of the most exciting and cherished music coming out of Scotland.
The band’s first gig was recorded live for John Peel, who became an early devotee.
The band went from indie record label Chemikal Underground onto the major label Go! Beat and then back again to Chemical , touring the world and funnelling life’s experiences into a unique concoction of music that explored beauty, sadness, intoxicants, sex, love, and death all rolled into one.
Despite them being a pinnacle group of the era, Moffat makes it clear that the aim is not to “recapture the 90s” but instead to create a distinctly new album, with new tools, sounds and a forward moving sense of exploration.
“This album feels like its own new thing to me,” he says. “It’s definitely Arab Strap, but an older and wiser one, and quite probably a better one.”
“We’ve had enough distance from our earlier work to reappraise and dissect the good and bad elements of what we did,” says Middleton. “Not many bands get to do this, so it’s great to split up.”
His dream was to put on small, intimate gigs in Strathaven, where he grew up, and create a “listening experience” for the community and beyond.
Now people from all over the UK are flocking to the Lanarkshire market town to experience Frets’ “magical” seated acoustic concerts.
Tickets for The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess last October sold out in five minutes, crashing the website.
King Creosote and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble will play the venue later this year.
Tickets for Arab Strap go on sale tonight at 7pm here. Doors 7pm.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.