The Bees

Oran Mor, Glasgow on Mon 27th Nov 2006

The Dandy Warhols must be fuming. There they were top of the list of marketing executives favourite promotional groups and then The Bees came along and spoiled it all.

Bands whoring themselves out to commercially driven corporations isn’t anything new, and no doubt 'A Minha Menina' did just as much for the The Bees as it did for sales of the Citroen C5. Then again how many people do you know who drive a C5?

Most artists get scalped by the music press for the debauched act of bringing high musical culture to such a lowly defined medium, even to the extent of The Observer’s Paul Morley proclaiming The Bee’s as one of those bands who "have been created merely to supply charged up must-see thrill-stings to C4 trailers".

But there’s a simple reason why The Bee’s make such good candidates for adverts that they’ve cropped up in everything from World Cup endorsed deodorant commercials to Australian Mar’s Bar TV spots.

It’s because they write great songs. Great, summery pop tunes that sound as happy as a Donovan / Beach Boys collaboration set in Jamaica during a ganja harvest season.

Now I’m guessing you already know all that, but what you might not know is just how brilliant they are sounding live at the moment. Going to a Bee’s gig is like being invited to an Austin Power’s 1960’s theme party. There are enough hippy-go-lucky broken chords to bob up and down to, and in minutes you find yourself dancing like your uncle dances to the birdie song at weddings.

The Bees

‘Wash in the rain’ is tonight’s set opener, like an upbeat mix of Super Furry Animal’s ‘Golden Retriever’ and a Beatle’s take on any one of a dozen Doors tracks. The Hammond organ in particular gives the song a great, 70’s funk sound and it’s a brilliant set opener to get everyone dancing.

As the band switch instruments and perform like a travelling circus, constantly engaging to watch, with everyone fully engrossed in the music. This is one of the tightest six pieces I have ever seen.

As soon as ‘Horsemen’ kicks in the crowd have lost all their inhibitions and the hedonistic party vibe is so addictive you couldn’t avoid it even if you really wanted to. The soothing transition between the Beta Band style vocals and the joyful guitar strumming are a stroke of genius and it just takes Kris Birkin’s over the top guitar solo to complete this great pop song.

The Bees

Due out next year will be The Bee’s third album, and we are given a sample of what to expect. It doesn’t sound too bad, but latest single ‘Left foot Stepdown’ is certainly no ‘Horsemen’ and just sounds a little like a stretched out jamming session by various members of The Zutons and The Coral. Much of the new material is more reggae influenced and that’s especially noticeable on ‘Listening Man’.

Back with the old though, and The Bees will have to pull out something pretty special if they are going to match the brilliance of ‘A Minha Menina’. Not that The Bees can be fully credited for this because it’s a pretty straight forward cover of a song by Os Mutantes, but it’s a great tune nevertheless.

‘Chicken Payback’ is left to the encore, and I can’t think of any song that’s steeped so heavily in 60’s retrospection. All in all it’s a great set filled with psychedelic funk, ska, reggae, folk, pop and god knows how many other genre influences thrown into the mix.

article by: Scott Johnson

photos by: Scott Johnson

published: 28/11/2006 09:40


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