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One of the most intriguing Scottish bands of the late 80s/early 90s, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie, reformed in 2019. It was as unexpected as it was triumphant. A string of Scottish dates (with extra nights added) sold out in hours, culminating in a rammed Barrowland at the end of the year and a further two nights in their hometown of Edinburgh. Dingwalls in London also enjoyed a packed house and the atmosphere at all the gigs was as electric as their shows of three decades ago.
The Barrowland gig was recorded and the resulting album, A Night In The Windy City, captures the essence of what has always made the MacKenzies a phenomenal live act. The documentary, Until The End OF the Road, produced and directed by Karen Lamond and Gigi Welch, includes incredible live footage from those recent gigs as well as older material shot on super 8 from Berlin and around Europe where the band spent a lot of time recording and touring.
So, the story goes that he band, who split in 1995 after releasing five albums and touring extensively, came back together in 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary of their debut album Good Deeds and Dirty Rags. What started out as a few live performances to play Good Deeds in its entirety, ended up as a full-blown reunion. Further dates and festivals were in the diary for 2020 until Covid came a long, but are rescheduled for this year . . .
The MacKenzies are remembered fondly as an amazing live band, though world-wide success inexplicably eluded them. Their first album went straight in to the charts at No 16. The Rattler was the single that attracted most attention and is still regularly played on the radio north of the border, as well as still getting occasional airings by the likes of Steve Lamacq on Radio 6.
As the List said in their 50 Greatest Scottish Bands review: “The MacKenzies left behind the most complex and fascinating footprint of any Scottish band. Live they were stunning. Lead singer Martin Metcalfe looked like the MC of a particularly debauched cabaret troupe. While their Scottish counterparts were looking at soul and Steeleye Dan for inspiration the MacKenzies were taking theirs from The Pixies and The Birthday Party.
Their legacy includes original member Shirley Manson who, before Garbage fame, formed offshoot band Angelfish (93-95) with three core members of the MacKenzies, Kelly, Metcalfe and Wilson. The four-piece toured the US and Europe and recorded one album produced by Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz.
Metcalfe, Kelly and Wilson have also released critically acclaimed albums as Isa & The Filthy Tongues and, more recently, The Filthy Tongues who are currently working on their third album.
Manson is still mightily busy with Garbage but the two other members of the original 6-piece, guitarist Big John Duncan and Rona Scobie (keyboards), are back in earnest. Big John (Exploited/Blood Uncles and one-time Nirvana affiliate) needs little introduction. This behemoth of the guitar has managed to return despite battling MS. From his home in Amsterdam he reckoned playing live again was beyond him but, like Lazarus, he has risen.
A string of further dates including Belladrum Festival are scheduled for July, Covid permitting, with more later in the year.
It is more than 20 years since Goodbye Mr Mackenzie last played live in the Capital so a lot was riding on the first of two sold-out nights at the Liquid Room on Saturday, where Martin Metcalfe and company cranked up the volume to prove they’ve lost none of their fire and brimstone with an electrifying set. Finishing with their iconic 1991 single Now We Are Married, it was time for Edinburgh to roar its love for Goodbye Mr Mackenzie one last time.
5 star review
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