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jsbxpromo-stefanogiovannini-3

Touring on the back of last year’s album ‘Meat and Bone’ the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are back in Scotland! There was little press to promote the show which made it even more impressive to see the Glasgow’s Classic Grand filled with this rock n’ roll preachers flock.

The hiatus of the Blues Explosion has led to their strongest release since their heyday, as their output got weaker it looks like a break was what was needed. Recalling earlier triumphs such as Mo Width, the new record provides a rollicking blast of energy that was sadly absent from recent** albums ‘Plastic Fang’ and ‘Damage’, even though during this period their live shows maintained the potency that those albums lacked.

With minimal back drop, lighting and equipment there with little to distract the audience from the band, not that anyone would have noticed if there was as each member proved to be a mesmerising figure. The band hit into the set with gusto, where it was just song after song after song with only the rare breather to interrupt proceedings.

“One more tune”, “Only one more?”, “Twenty Nine more!”, “I’ll see that, and raise you”. This was the banter from the hip-shaker, rock n’ roll preacher Jon Spencer after the opening barrage of tunes only breaking to retune before continuing their onslaught of salivating rock n’ roll beauty*.

And he wasn’t far off either as we were treated to over 30 songs from their catalogue featuring favourites such as ‘2 Kindsa Love***’, ‘Bellbottoms’ and ‘Son of Sam’ whilst throwing in a scattering of new tracks and those from the latest album.

The sonic dementia of the set proved to be more important to the band than the clarity of what they were playing though no one seemed to be adverse to this. With the encore lasting about half as long as the main set when the band were, what seemed like to be, forced to abandon the stage they still looked like they could play for another couple of hours nae bother.

And that was it – 3 men playing their guts out, putting on the best show that they can! Who cares if the songs become indistinct from one another, who cares if the songs don’t sound like they do on the album. It’s about the fucking experience and having a good time, something that the Blues Explosion deliver without a doubt!

 

*Yes I am a fan.

**recent in comparison

***A favourite on my wedding playlist

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savages

Mercury music price nominees* and general darlings of the indie press for the past wee while, Savages have been adorned with a tremendous dose of kudos on a band so young. This packed to the rafters show, at Glasgow’s Classic Grand, was filled with that odd mix of a crowd that only occurs when a fringe band has dipped its toe into the mainstream. Your cider and blackcurrant drinking Goth crew rubbing shoulders with those indie folk and your Coldplay loving Uncles queuing up for the bar. Can you really please all spectrums?

The band, in their uniform of all black, played through their début album ‘Silence Yourself’ to gleeful adoration. Vocalist Jehnny Beth was a commanding presence throughout the show rousing the crowd effortlessly. Ayse Hassan’s bass was thick and punchy and pounding, Gemma Thompson’s guitar was the right amount of painful squall and Faye Milton’s drumming certainly hit the point home.

Proceeding to go through their rather excellent début, the band had the audience in the palm of their hand which reached its crescendo with ‘She Will’ and ‘City’s Full’. Proving that there is more to the band than just hype and that, my God, there might actually be some lasting stay power here**.

However despite the obvious professionalism at hand something didn’t site right with me about the show. Regardless of vocalist Jehnny’s singing, what should have been, a rousing rendition of ‘Fuckers’ upon the shoulders of a few lucky*** audience members, I felt oddly cold despite all the ingredients for a class act show being there; the crowd, the angst, the anger, the energy. That should have been what led to that moment but it wasn’t… It felt forced and somewhat staged as if it was always going to happen****.

Despite my feelings on it though, the performance certainly seemed well rehearsed and was done with the utmost of professionalism with the crowd, on the whole, lapping it up*****. But it lacked believability of emotion and was sorely missing that hint of danger that everything could implode; and who comes to a fucking rock show for that?!

*If you care about that kind of thing… I couldn’t give less of a shit.

**I certainly hope so as it’s a cracking album.

***If you think of that thing as being lucky… I do a bit.

****And as the great & wonderful artist Bobby Conn said at a show in King Tuts several years ago “Scotland does not stand for fakery!”

*****A real shame as I thought they were incredible when I saw them a few months back.

Moody...

Moody…

Placed in the thick of the audience of Glasgow’s Classic Grand; it’s crowded, hot and difficult to get to the bar*. So it is with genuine excitement, helped by the countdown timer projected onstage, that Low arrive on stage as the timer hits 00:00.

Proceeding with a flurry of tracks from their new album ‘The Invisible Way’ leading to the highlight from that album ‘Clarence White’, despite solely playing new material by this point there was no indication from the crowd that they were getting restless. If anything the way person whooping throughout was told by a fellow audience member to “shut up you fuckin’ twat!” much to lead singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawks’ amusement**.

So far the tone has been set by sombre and introspective musings aided by the super 8 film projections taking place behind them. It is with this that the band proceeds into older material signalled by the hypnotic drum of 2005’s ‘Monkey’***. What was to follow was a mixture of tracks throughout Low’s career with particularly haunting renditions of twin tracks from 2010’s ‘C’mon’, ‘Witches’ & ‘Especially Me’, drummer & singer Mimi Parkers vocal on the latter proved especially mesmerising.

Throughout the set though, Low had to not only endear themselves to the crowd**** but to compete on the loudness scale due to the punk covers band playing downstairs. Which if you are at all familiar with Low’s back catalogue could prove problematic*****. Possibly in response, Sparhawk & Parker, head into ‘Pissing’ which amps up the volume and provides the crowd with one of their few rock out moments.

As the main set finished with ‘To our knees’, Low returned onstage fairly promptly for the encore. However, as aforementioned, the band downstairs began to repeat the challenge of loudness. Sparhawk recognised the song as Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’ and led to the crowd through a rousing rendition of its chorus, as he fully admitted that these were the only lyrics of the song he could recall.

After this uncharacteristic fun was finish with, the band headed straight into ‘Canada’ which caused more movement in the audience than had been previously seen that evening and was successful in drowning out the racket from below. Finishing with ‘I hear…goodbye’, from their recent record store day reissue, the night is closed******. An intimate gig, where their environment worked against them, Low were able to rise above it and present something very special for all.

*Not to mention the smell of stale sweat & oddly… Stilton?

** It was a well-deserved put down – how dare you whoop a band!

*** Is this their big hit?

**** They didn’t have to worry there.

***** What can you do when a cash till plays havoc with the quiet nuances of your set?

****** Threatening to stab us all in the heart, much to the Mrs’ (Parker’s) horror.