Midway through their set on Saturday, Joe Pernice confesses to the audience that, for the past seven years, he has worn the wrong size of shoes and, only recently, has he rediscovered his correct size and, in so doing, a way out of his pain. It has been a busy time of late for Pernice, with last year’s Scud Mountain Boys’ album followed earlier this month by The New Mendicants’ record, ‘Into The Lime’ (a new Pernice Brothers’ album is due out soon also). The New Mendicants feels like a comfortable fit for Pernice, like a well-worn and perfectly-fitting shoe. A collaboration with ex-Teenage Fanclub singer/guitarist Norman Blake (together with absent drummer Mike Belitsky), on stage the pair cut a relaxed and warmly affable appearance before an attentive and appreciative Glasgow audience.
Their set draws predominantly on the recent album. It opens, fittingly for a duo drawn together by their mutual love of classic guitar pop, with the ménage á trois of ‘Cruel Annette’: ‘We’re in love with you/Tell us both what we should do’, as both men vie, through perfect harmonies, for the attention of their muse. Overall, Pernice’s lyrics add a bitter edge to Blake’s sweet soulfulness, but together they meld the world-weary with the child-like (not least when Blake performs simple arpeggios on a glockenspiel which looks like it has come from the Early Learning Centre) with impressive effect. Other highlights from the album include ‘Follow You Down’, one of a number of Mendicant’s songs written for, and rejected by, a film of Nick Hornby’s book, A Long Way Down, and the Midnight Cowboy-inspired ‘Sarasota’. Beyond the album’s songs, Teenage Fanclub favourites ‘Mellow Doubt’ and ‘Baby Lee’ are greeted warmly by the crowd but the most moving moments occur during the brutal intensity of Pernice’s ‘The Loving Kind’: ‘Hate me if you must/But trust me when I say this love will never live’ and in the delicate beauty of the Go-Between’s cover, ‘Finding You’.
The New Mendicants play beautiful, literate songs which retain a sense of melancholic romanticism within a weary knowingness. The collaboration is a perfect vehicle for the music of Pernice and Blake, modern troubadours begging to be heard. If they should come to your door, be sure to give them your time.
Words Kind Courtesy Of Ian Donnelly