You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Glasgow’ tag.

the-new-mendicants-1flow

It’s a Saturday night in Glasgow, which can be scary enough at points*, which is currently in the embrace of two inherently Scottish traditions this evening. Number one: Burns night, which means that celebrations are in full swing for the memory of our national bard… or more likely an excuse to consume one’s own body weight in whiskey. Number two: would be that of the Celtic Connections Festival which hosts several gigs for the Folk, Country and World music genres over the course of January. This is why I have found myself in the Glasgow Arches where the tartan shirts and trousers are oot** and my soundtrack to this evening is The New Mendicants.

 
The New Mendicants, the new project from Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, and, more importantly to this crowd, Norman Blake of locally loved group Teenage Fanclub. After their aforementioned ‘better known’ groups played together several years back and finding themselves expats of their respective countries in Canada they ended up in a musical partnership. Somehow these guys found themselves working on the soundtrack to the film adaption of Nick Hornby’s ‘A Long Way Down’ ***. It turns out this was rejected by the film’s producers but the end product was that this new unit was born. With new album ‘Into the Lime’ coming out in the coming days, there is an expectant but unsure atmosphere amongst those in the crowd on what we are going to be treated to****.

 
The two arrive onstage in a slight rush, due to being told the wrong time, and settle themselves in at their seats having the barest of presence on the semi lit stage. The lighting funnily enough would prove to be the only form of distraction***** from the two men as the levels flickered throughout indicating that the mood couldn’t be settled on. However, the mood from the New Mendicants was set by their talkative nature and hushed tunes creating a relaxed and homely atmosphere.

 
The evening was certainly filled with entertaining banter, with both gents treating this near capacity crowd as if they were just playing the backroom of the pub, and with a group who started its existence thanks to their rejected works how could it not be. Sadly this was the highlight of the evening for me as the music left me somewhat wanting throughout. All the songs were characterised by pop hooks and hush tones with sing along choruses but it just felt like a poorer re-tread of their more famous works. There was certainly a lot of charm but charming music didn’t keep me entertained for any longer than 20 minutes.

 
Though the material may suit being further fleshed out in a bigger band setting******, with only 2 guitars and the occasional glockenspiel the material just didn’t seem strong enough for this barebones setting. At points it did seem that the audience’s initial attention was starting to wain but this was recaptured thanks to ‘I don’t want control of you’ from Blake’s Teenage Fanclub heyday… and then it was done. This allowed the audience to leave on a high but sadly the lead up to this was just a bit of a struggle and not terribly memorable… a shame really.

 
*I jest, calm doon!

 
**Not the punk kind either, I own a tartan tie but this feels like a bit much.

 
***Which is apparently awful as I’m told from people that I trust?

 
****Except those on the drams… their laldie at this point.

 
*****And it proved a welcome one for me later on.

 
******Like wae drums and bass and that.

Advertisements

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.

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.

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.

Not exactly an up-to-date photo.

Not exactly an up-to-date photo.

A great weight of expectation & excitement befalls the Glasgow Barrowlands ballroom this evening as shoegaze and general noise merchants My Bloody Valentine return to the stage. The My Bloody Valentine camp has seen a wealth of activity* with the recent reissues of their back catalogue & a new album to tour ‘MBV’. Can a group as mighty as MBV live up to the heights written about them & the expectations of this sold out crowd… the next two hours should hopefully answer that**.

Casually walking onstage, the band were greeted with a deafening reception from the audience, which really made the earplugs given out for free upon entry rather useful***. Heading straight into ‘I only said’ the crowd were instantly hypnotised and proceeded with the moshing down front. The pace of the opening continued into ‘when you sleep’ and progressed for a good portion of the set peaking and culminating with ‘only shallow’****.

The set plodded forward after this with songs from every release of MBV’s back catalogue. There was a surprising lack of new material but those that they did play melded easily into the set just fine. Second to lastly, MBV played ‘you made me realise’ which of course has the much spoken of Holocaust section which drenched the crowd in a cacophony of feedback and squealing***** to much delight. Finishing with, all band members down front, new album track ‘wonder 2’ leader Kevin Shields finally acknowledged the crowd with a “thanks” and they left very much as they came on – with a captivated and enthralled Glasgow crowd bellowing out their name.

However, I was not as enamoured as most of the crowd. The band came across as so disinterested in what they were doing that I was left wanting******. It seemed that the band’s focus was to try and recreate their albums onstage as closely as possible that I found it intriguing that Belinda Butcher was not playing her guitar at several points in the evening*******, considering it is well known how many guitar overlays there are on tracks especially on ‘Loveless’. This led to an air of doing things by numbers, especially with the lack of audience interaction, and which culminated in a safe show without even an intimation of spontaneity.

Having once been the peak purveyors of ethereal noise, My Bloody Valentine are now running behind those that they have inspired, more or less summed up in the ‘Holocaust’ section. At one point this would have been astounding, but now rather run of the mill and rather lacking impact. A major disappointment for myself but who am I to complain? The crowd seemed to fuckin’ love it!

*Unbridled for this group…

**Can any group… except for Neil Young… and even he can be inconsistent.

***It proved to be the only time they did.

****’You never should’ was fucking ace to be fair.

*****So that is what they were for.

******I even went out for a cigarette at one point… I’m not proud of it.

*******I am not a guitar player so apologies if I am missing something.

Hamell on Trial

Another Celtic Connections is upon me and one of the required viewing gems is Mr Hamell of Hamell on Trial playing at Glasgow Oran Mor. I wasn’t quite sure of the set-up as Celtic Connections tends to throw a few curveballs each year* to fuck your expectations up a little. For a festival that brings together folk, country and world music genres to the fore, I always seem to end up at a punk gig** and tonight was no different…

Upon entering the venue support act Lach was already on stage*** regaling the audience with twitchy folk rock goodies. Looking like a cross between Christopher Lloyd and Elvis Costello****, he was treating the sparse crowd to some jokes and banter which wasn’t fully connecting with the audience. This seemed more than apparent to the man himself thus audience interaction was shunned for the next few numbers. However, as the venue began to fill up with late arrivals, Lach was greeted with a friendlier and louder response – a highlight being his shout out to the Kiss army*****. Sadly as Lach was hitting his stride and audience appreciation grew, time was up.

Strolling onstage to rapturous applause looking like the bastard son of Fu Manchu if he had made a cultural visit to Syracuse, New York, came Hamell on Trial. Opening with ‘Glad You’re Gone’ and continuing on for a couple of numbers before we were promised by Mr Hamell himself that there would be no jokes or stories, instead we would be treated to an evening of interpretive dance with the finale involving the sight of our main act in a thong******. Mr Hamell is not a man to keep his promises…Continuing on, we were diverted with an ode to Mr Hamell’s 1937 acoustic guitar, which by the man’s own admission he wields like a Tommy gun, which I can confirm is the truth.

Hamell has always seemed to me to be an artist who moves with the times, not particularly his style of music, but in terms of mood and feeling. He provides a document of what the collective are feeling and offering possible solutions that only a man who has lived his life according to punk rock can. Hence a lot of this evenings set list focused on highlighting tracks from his new album ‘The Happiest Man in the World’*******.  After the midpoint in the set the audience were treated to a double whammy on the effect of the economic recession on the working person. ‘Jennifer’s Stripping Again’, explaining the measures people will take to keep things going. This was followed by ‘Richards Got a Job’; displaying some hope and that if people keep trying things might be alright.

The rather diverse characters******** in attendance lapped it all up, especially when the floor was open to requests. I am surprised he was able to make any of it out due to the barrage of ineligible cries*********. Obeying those that he could comprehend & finishing the evening with two tracks from his beloved album ‘Choochtown’ (When Bobby Comes Down and Choochtown) left things on a really fucking high note. Not exactly a Celtic evening but Hamell on Trial made a connection with everyone who turned out.

*Or the Scottish equivalent of that saying.

**Hey, I am not closed minded, kay!

***At 7.35pm you can’t say Celtic Connections aren’t prompt.

****If they both went into that machine in Cronenbergs ‘The Fly’.

*****Kiss rules Motherfucker!

******Say what you will, I would clearly have remembered it.

*******It’s pretty tidy.

********Dead Kennedy beanie hatted gents next to those in full tweed suits.

*********I did shout for Coulter’s Snatch, but was denied… yes it is a song.

Metal dudes can go out during the day.

Metal dudes can go out during the day.

Due to the potent cocktail of limited funds and an extraordinary liaise faire attitude  I had not ventured to see Cult of Luna, playing Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks, in around 10 years*. Touring on the back of forthcoming release ‘Vertikal’, their 4th album since I last saw them (6th in total). I came to the hypothesis that things would have changed substantially… I was wrong but as it turned out that aint no bad thing**.

Arriving in the densely occupied venue to the sounds of support act Humanfly, me and my partner in crime headed immediately bar wards*** before nestling in between some dashingly tall gentlemen to watch the events on stage. Humanfly were perfectly enjoyable; mashing a mix of metal, prog and alt. rock, which reminded me of Cave-In circa their Jupiter album.

Once the stage had emptied we fuelled up on beer before an endurance test of Adam Richman proportions took to the stage. Her Name is Calla were the next band on, what followed was a lengthy 30 minutes where we were treated to 5 songs that went nowhere. Channelling Radiohead Pablo Honey era if Radiohead had spent all their time at the art school, smoking too much weed, listening to Yes records and coming to the conclusion that violins are fucking rock and can carry a 10 minute rock song****. Yeah, 30 minutes of despair where it seemed that the bright spark idea that long automatically means epic, was unfortunately cunting deluded. To be honest I was more angry with myself… It only dawned on me that I could go out for a cigarette during the 2nd to last song…

Next, thankfully, the overhead lights dimmed to reveal a Michael Mann-esque blue haze stage as the Swedes walked on to the backing of new album opener ‘The One’. Considering that the venue was packed oot I and the good lady were watching a platform of heads moving around with the occasional torso for good measure*****.

This is where the modest but rather exceptional lighting work from the stage came into play. The blue haze was mixed up to compliment the music  which was exemplified as the audience was aurally assaulted by the music whilst simultaneously the same being done by the blinding white lights, working particularly well with ‘Finland’. This gave proceedings an oddly cinematic quality, where you could easily imagine the music being used to soundtrack a silent movie. No surprise then that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was an influence on the new record ‘Vertikal’.

The evening consisted largely of tracks from this very album. From the sounds of it the band have continued to progress down the post-metal route with the vocals being less of a central component than before. Despite this there was no let-up in the music’s ferocity, it just felt that there was a bit more breathing room now. The biggest roars from the audience came late in the evening with the ‘Owlwood’ before ‘In awe of’ brought the night to a swift encore-less close******.

It took a good few days for my hearing to recover & I have begun to investigate the back catalogue, before purchasing the latest*******. A mighty evening which exceeded the memories of the last occasion when I was a hardcore/metal obsessed lad. It did get me wondering why the band has not achieved greater success than their peers such as Pelican, Isis, and Mogwai etc. Is it the vocals? Too metal for the post-rock crowd? Either way they are up there with the best!

*Supporting Dillinger Escape Plan at the Glasgow Cathouse.

**If it aint broke…

***It was a Saturday ok, and we were in Glasgow!

****If you can call it a rock song.

*****Can you really say you saw a band live if you can’t actually see them?

******If they did it would probably be about a ¼ length of the main set.

*******How old school!