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Originally published May 13, 2009 at 1:08 PM | Page modified May 13, 2009 at 1:32 PM

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Concert review | Scottish Vaselines captivate Neumo's crowd

Concert review: The Vaselines, the band championed and covered by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, played to a packed Neumo's crowd, in Seattle on May 12; review by Andrew Matson.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Concert Review |

Scottish band The Vaselines played Neumo's Tuesday night and captivated a packed house easily. It was as if co-frontpeople (and former couple) Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly were everybody's best friends.

Everybody's horny, middle-aged, indie-rock best friends.

They've been on hiatus for a long time — McKee and Kelly last made an album in 1990, and are touring behind a compilation of old songs and live recordings — and even though America and The Vaselines were reacquainted at the band's first-ever U.S. show last summer at Marymoor Park, McKee explained her relative absence from the music world:

"I've been in prison."

She said the crime had to do with young boys, body fluids, and facial moisturizing.

It's hard to be grossed out when McKee talks that way ... she looks and talks like a pixieish elementary-school teacher, and performs as unassumingly as possible, strumming guitar and singing with a campfire lilt. She's probably the least aggressive rock music personality you can imagine, second to Kelly, who complained between songs he doesn't like Jesus anymore because one Christmas he asked for a bicycle and only got Monopoly.

Speaking of bicycles, 1987 song "Rory Rides Me Raw" was a definite highlight, a song about — ahem — McKee's bicycle seat. The whole audience seemed to sway to the weird little shanty: "Rory, Rory, ride me Rory ... ride me slow ... ride me raw, raw, raw." It all sounded so innocent.

"I don't get double entendres," said Kelly. "I need to go back to school. I only know single entendre."

Famous for Kurt Cobain's constant championing (they were his favorite band, and he named his daughter after McKee), and also for Nirvana's indelible covering of Vaselines songs "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam" and "Son of a Gun," among others, the band's also famous for constantly joking on stage. McKee and Kelly went back and forth for over an hour last night, and were genuinely funny for the whole show.

Don't take my word for it: Jemaine Clement, professional comedian of pop-folk-comedy act Flight of the Conchords, who'd apparently just come from performing at the Paramount, was standing right in front of me and laughed several times. I played it cool and didn't interrupt his enjoying the concert, which he seemed to be doing, and instead, took a surreptitious photo from the mezzanine. (Wait ... is that cool?)

The Vaselines closed with "You Think You're a Man," a Divine cover from the early '80s, sending the audience out humming an irresistible melody with a dash of sex politics: "You think you're a man, but you just couldn't see / You weren't man enough to satisfy me."

Andrew Matson: 206-464-2153 or amatson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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