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Invigorating Punk Rock?

Invigorating Punk Rock?

Moved to Glasgow’s relatively new venue, Broadcast, under mysterious circumstances, the claustrophobia inducing venue greets L.A. dwellers No Age on their first outing to the city since their much hyped* but still awe-inspiring performance at Stereo a couple of years previous.

What the crowd lacks in numbers** it more than makes up with enthusiasm and hysteria (as guitarist Randy Randall would later find out). As we are all trapped in tightly, trying to avoid being the one stuck behind the pillar, it is still sporadically possible to catch the faces of the band whilst playing.

The two piece, made up of Dean Spunt on drums and vocal duties (with occasional bass) and, the aforementioned, Randy Randall on guitar, don’t waste time before heading into the crowd pleasers. ‘Fever Dreaming’ from their last album ‘Everything in Between’ and ‘Teen Creeps’ from their breakthrough ‘Nouns’ proving to be rather riot inducing as judged from the bodies flinging themselves across the cramped floor space down front.

However, there is a new album to promote, the rather excellent ‘An Object’ and tracks from which must be played. These were signposted by the band themselves as an almost apology to the rabid fan base wanting to jump around to what they know***. Surprisingly though, some of these new tunes proved to be the highlights of the evening; ‘C’mon, Stimmung’ showered the audience with the appropriate adrenaline levels that they were after and also led to some rather sombre moments as witnessed by the conviction filled ‘I won’t be your Generator’.

The audience was enthralled throughout and obviously thankful to be seeing the objects of their affections in such close quarters. No more so than when some overly inebriated fans down front made advances on Randy’s groin region****. With the promise of hugs after the show, unbridled adulation would be saved for later. But hell, can it be a bad gig if you cause your audience to hound you with love during the show, I would argue that it can’t be*****.

If anything, the change in venue only added to the atmosphere to see the band invigorating the 4th wave of punk rock******. Those hardcore few who did attend relished the opportunity to party it out to some brash melodic noise with those on the same wavelength as there wasn’t a face without a smile by the end.

*From that Pitchfork crowd.

**Plenty of room at the back… where it was safe.

***There was no need to.

**** [insert pun here]

*****It’s not like they are Motely Crue of anything.

******Is it 4th or 3rd, I have no idea, I just made that up.

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Stars in their eyes.

Stars in their eyes.

How the hell are all of them gonna fit on that stage? Was my initial thought* upon the announcement that Swans would be gracing the Edinburgh Liquid Room with its presence**.  This of course had to be seen, and the prospect of seeing Swans (again) within a short bus ride from my flat meant there was no excuse not to go!

As I entered the venue, support act Buke & Gase had just started their set; the duo graced an enthralled audience enthralled audience with tracks from their new record ‘General Dome’ which were greeted by a good dose of applause after each execution. The fucked up, electric, folk, blender of tunes really found an audience here and they really were just the shit! Hopefully they shall grace these shores in future***.

What we were presented with once Swans began to play was… just noise… but what a noise! These guys have made a racket into an art form and they continued to so this evening. Michael Gira, the maniacal conductor of his posse, treated the audience to a nightmare of aural punishment and everyone was happy and all the better for it.

I know what you're thinking...

I know what you’re thinking…

During ‘To be Kind’ one could be forgiven that they were listening to a hymn from a dark arts choir, Gira’s voice had the audience in rapture throughout as the title was repeated over and over again. The only part of the evening that presented itself with audience foot moves was the driving rhythms of ‘Just a Little Boy’ before ‘The Seer’ went back to the norm i.e. musical meltdown****.

Respite was offered to the audience by way of stating “the disco will be starting soon” signalling the fact the venue would be closing things down shortly for the entertainment***** later in its schedule. Gira surprisingly went on to tell a tour anecdote of the band playing at a disco in Berlin several years ago, but before you think the man has gone soft, it ended in a fountain of vomit.

Upon leaving the stage, the audience were so enamoured with these gents that this led to a bow from the entire band three times before they were allowed to leave by those in attendance. My body felt like it had been working its ass off throughout the show and my mind felt rattled******, not something you normally get from a music concert but this really felt like something greater than that.

*It wasn’t really, I just thought that would make a better opening to this review, my initial thought was “Fucking Tidy!” and then it was probably “How much is it?” and then… it was probably about my 4th or 5th thought.

**A nice antidote to the thousands of comedians and art school theatre groups roaming the streets in Edinburgh at this time of year.

***I know, me, catching a support act! I fucking love gigs close to home.

****Who cares what song it was, I could barely remember once I left.

*****I sat entertainment but…

******Seriously, I felt exhausted.

A delightful evening of the finest Post-Hardcore if you please.

A delightful evening of the finest Post-Hardcore if you please.

It is with an air of maturity lusting for the innocence of an emotional youth that greets Emo rising stars (20 years ago) Texas is the Reason finally playing Glasgow, for the first and last time, so this tour can only be described as a lap of honour*.

Due to the intricacies and eccentricities of Scottish public transport I arrived at Glasgow’s Classic Grand to find that the first support act Lemuria were sadly missed**, and the second support act, a solo, Into it, Over it, was well into his set. Such much so I only captured the last two songs, which were good enough to add disappointment to my evening due to missing him***.

The crowd seemed a bit sparse from my vantage point but there were a few pockets of activity nearer the front of the stage. This was a damn shame and rather surprising to be honest as one would have expected for such a revered ensemble from the post-hardcore genre.

With ‘Do you know who you are?’ playing over the PA, signalling the bands arrival, attention is focused onstage with those few pockets of activity getting a bit tighter near the front of stage. The band plug in and punch right into ‘Back and to the Left’ immediately causing some fist pumping and general mosh like behaviour, with the onslaught continued with ‘Johnny on the spot’ before things turn down a bit with ‘Nickel Wound’ giving some of the folks a quick breather. However, the blow that this should have been was somewhat dwindled by the shitting sound from the PA****, a Christ like shame*****!

Handsome bastards...

Handsome bastards…

Thankfully, the sound issues were sorted further into the set allowing the band to blaze through their back catalogue with the desired weight to back it up leading to a cracking rendition of ‘Something to Forget’. Continuing on playing everything in their recorded output we were left with two songs to finish, and what a way to end it as ‘Antique’ and ‘A Jack with One Eye’ closed the night to a thunderous decibel level.

The band looked incredibly happy throughout, thanking the audience and pointing out this would be the first time and the last time that they grace us with their presence. Despite the shitty sound and the low outturn, the band seemed cheerful, as if this gig (and tour) was really for them to experience instead of us. Hey, who am I to argue.

*You can never really tell if this will be the last ‘LAST’ tour these days… God I sound old.

**I heard they were good though.

***He is however playing in November at Audio.

****I am trying to be cool about it but I was really fuckin’ angry.

*****Sorry.

Has it really been 20 years... fuck.

Has it really been 20 years… fuck.

So the show that has officially made me feel old, the 20th anniversary of the Breeders ‘Last Splash’, and to celebrate the Breeders are playing the Glasgow ABC*. As I have never been to a gig where the whole purpose of which was to play the album in its entirety, I am not sure what to expect. Except to hear that album in its entirety… in order, which is what we got but can a gig be special when you more a less know what is going to occur?**

The nae frills stage illustrates that tonight is going to be about the tunes and that is what the audience are here to see/hear***. The Deals & Co, coming onstage to an uproar of applause, head straight into ‘New Year’ before immediately progressing into the big hit ‘Cannonball’ which leads to one of the many flourishes of dancing reactions from the crowd this evening****.

Really, 20 years... fuck.

Really, 20 years… fuck.

Highlights of the set seem to very much depend on each individual in attendance as we all know what is coming but it’s just a case of playing the waiting game on hearing that particular track. However, everyone seems to be in glee like agreement during ‘Flipside’ and a particularly heavenly rendition of ‘Divine Hammer’ which has everyone plastered with a smile on their face*****.

As the closing of ‘Roi (reprise)’ signals the end of the main set, not one person budges, expectant and desperate for more despite ‘Last Splash’ being played in full. Their patience and dedication is duly rewarded as the band saunters on stage and proceeds to head into a cover of American Lo-Fi legends Guided by Voices****** ‘Shocker in Gloomtown’. Once this is done we are all treated to two encores worth of ‘Pod’ and ‘Safari EP’ tracks which just continues the already jubilant vibe created, with ‘Don’t Call Home’ providing a memorable but sombre finishing number.

Although this may have been just a glorified nostalgia trip for all in attendance and the band themselves… who gives a shit! Those tracks I still frequently listen to, it was great hearing it live, especially by the original incarnation of the band, and everyone seemed to have a big smile on their face. What more can you ask for?

*Amongst other places.

**Do I get extra credit for pointing out the bloody obvious?

**Lets read on…

***Dare I say it is quite nice to get the ‘hit’ out of the way.

****Well at least I did, grinning from cheek to cheek I must have looked like an idiot.

*****All hail the Guided by Voices.

The tour in question

The tour in question

It cost 45 quid, it’s in a venue I can’t fucking stand and it’s a pain in the arse to get to! So why put myself through such an ordeal… Neil Young & Crazy Horse are playing Glasgow, alas the pilgrimage must be made.

Due to the aforementioned struggles in getting to the venue, Glasgow’s SECC, I moseyed in to find the support Los Lobos nearing the end of their set. Thankfully, a large crowd were already in attendance and gave the band a warm and deserved display of affection*.

The cavernous insides of the SECC was slightly daunting at first** clearly putting into frame that this would not be an endeavour in an intimate environment. Considering that this is the first time I have set foot in this venue in over 10 years***, I maintained in my head that despite the setting, I am professional and sensible, it will not ruin the show… and it’s Neil ‘Fucking’ Young with Crazy Horse.

Although not always prominently mentioned or commonly associated with him, Neil Young is not without a healthy dose of humour and, dare I say, flamboyancy. Evidence to that effect was easily evident on stage; the shudderingly high amplifiers****  either side of the stage with the crew dressed in lab coats as though they were ready to apply for a role in a Hammer Horror production added a certain panache to the waiting time before the band entered.

Image

The man in question

Never one to side with the tried and tested posture of gig setlist procedures, Young & Co begin with the ‘Love and only love’ from ‘Ragged Glory’ setting a groove laden almost ambient mood for starters which continued with ‘Powderfinger’. I could go on with the setlist***** but it almost feels unimportant as Neil Young & Crazy Horse jam, mash, noodle, bastardise, fuck up, manipulate and transform their back catalogue according to their mood… it was glorious and pretty obvious that I wasn’t the only person that thought so!

Of course as the seasoned performers that they are it seemed that the band didn’t want to push their luck with the self-indulgence******. Six songs in, Crazy Horse disappear and Neil is left on stage on his lonesome, the nomadic song writing warrior with his trusted acoustic guitar about to do the hits*******. The whole auditorium seemed to join Neil in a rendition of ‘Heart of Gold’, which seemed to create an event that only a venue of this size could provide********. This was followed swiftly by another hit, just not his, as the mass sing along continued with Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’.

Now that the audience had had their respite, Crazy Horse returned and it was time to get back to where they left off.  As the night wore on, the rockers were more a less left till last, as ‘Fuckin’ Up’ began so did the movement of the crowd, the mostpits********* had begun. Due to the confines of this cavernous venue the sound levels were somewhat lacklustre but hearing those opening cords to ‘My, My, Hey, Hey’ done in the style of its counterpart… well it certainly ended things on a high.

This evening certainly cemented Neil Young & Crazy Horses’ legendary status for another evening and which they will do again night after night wherever they visit I am sure.

*Through… you know… clapping and stuff.

**And throughout.

***It was to see Incubus… look I was trying to pull someone at the time… it didn’t work… and it was a shitty gig.

****I am going to assume they were fake.

*****If you are really that interested there are our websites for that.

******Not matter how good it was it is still self-indulgence.

*******I know what you’re thinking, which one?!

********That is the best compliment that you are going to get out of me with regards to the venue.

*********A poor excuse for a moshpit, not that I was expecting something like that here.