REVIEW OF WU LYF/HOLY ESQUE : SWG3, GLASGOW - 17 MARCH 2012
I'm posting the review sharpish as Aldo might just want to totally contradict everything I'm about to say.
This was a gig my sidekick had been looking forward to for ages with Wu Lyf releasing his favourite LP of 2011. Me? I went along deliberately not giving them a listen in advance. But I was intrigued a fair bit by them.
Wu Lyf is short for 'World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation'. They've been going for around four years but have maintained an aura of mystery thanks to an unwillingness to do much in the way of media promotion. They also describe their music as 'heavy pop' More on them later....
Support came from Holy Esque, a young unsigned four-piece from Glasgow who have been gradually been picking up a fair bit of positive coverage through the internet.
They had just taken to the stage when the three of us arrived - we were accompanied this time Jondo, a music buff originally from London but long resident north of the border. Jondo is marginally older than me and we were easily the two oldest folk at the venue. First impressions were that Holy Esque were just a racket, but within a few minutes, drinks in hand, we had wriggled our way down to the front centre for a better look and listen.
For someone who grew up watching all sorts of inexperienced support bands in the new wave era take to the stage and subject listeners to some awful messes, I never fail to be impressed by the talent and ability so many young musicians display nowadays. Holy Esque were very good at what they do. Only problem was that on this showing there was nothing much to make me remember them all that much afterwards. They weren't helped by the stage lights leaving them in darkness for much of the time along with what appeared to be a random use of the strobe. If I had to pick out an act they reminded me of it would have been Killing Joke but with shouty rough at the edges vocals.
And so to the main act.
It's an over 14s gig which means it is a totally different audience than any other gig so far this year. At almost 49, I really feel ancient but not out of place.
Wu Lyf get the crowd going from the opening few seconds. I'm immediately trying to work out what I'm listening to. It's not indie. It's not pop. It's not exactly rock.....well not to begin with anyway.
Aldo is right down the front in with the throng who are singing, jumping about and clapping along to the tunes. I'm just at the back edge of what is not quite a mosh pit but still relatively close to the stage. And I soon find myself wondering what all the fuss is about.
Don't think I'm alone though as there's an incredible amount of chit-chat in between and during the songs which really becomes evident during a quiet intro to the fourth song of the set. It was almost impossible to hear anything about the excited yakking all around me.
Fifth song into the set....it hits me. This lot are anthemic. The 2012 equivalent of Glasvegas in that they've perfectly captured the mood of the 14-18 year old crowd who have turned their backs on the bubblegum manufactured pop that dominates the airwaves. Wu Lyf really have the potential to be massive...but maybe for 3 years tops and then their audience will move on. Good luck to them.
By now the 20% of the crowd who are going for it really are at full tilt. It takes me back to a Spear of Destiny gig at Strathclyde Uni in the early 80s when a big chunk of the crowd stripped to the waist and went nuts for the band - including my wee brother - while the rest of us stood back and enjoyed the vitality on and off stage and how these aspects were feeding off one another.
So....atmosphere wise it was charged. But musically????????
There was nothing at all that stood out. It's a cliche, but I've seen and heard it all before.
This is rock music that in the hands of older musicians would even be described as mainstream. I swear at one point I could hear a guitar solo that was straight of Tin Machine. Choruses that go 'oh oh oh' to get maximum sing and clap-a-long...oh that's what Queen championed back in the days. And what's this....oh the lead singer has leaped off the stage and into the audience who, having initially mobbed him then put him up on their shoulders and crowd surf him back to the stage. Yawn.
And then the encore...so much confidence and ability that it could have been Wet Wet Wet when they started out, except that where Clydebanks' finest gave us plastic soul, Wu Lyf gave us plastic rock.
Remember kids....it's only an opinion. No need to get too angry
JC, Sunday 18 March 2012