Sunday, April 08, 2012
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF GIGS : WEEK 14 (Part 1) : HEROES GET WORSHIPPED
REVIEW OF GLASVEGAS/TWO WOUNDED BIRDS - CLASSIC GRAND, GLASGOW, 5 APRIL
The 550-capacity of the Classic Grand, a converted porn cinema close to Central Station, means this must be the smallest hometown venue the headliners have played in years. After not getting to a gig in week 13 (although I was at a comedy event headlined by Mark Steel which sort of counts), it was good to be back in the saddle alongside ny regular sidekick in the shape of Aldo. And we were joined by Angela, a work colleague of mine and her other half who is also coincidentally known to his friends as Aldo.
Support act was Two Wounded Birds, a four-piece band who I later discover are from Margate, a seaside town in south-east England. They consist of three leather jackets and a drummer wearing a John & Yoko t-shirt. The blonde bass player is stunningly attractive, the lead-singer has a cracking bowl pudding haircut and the lead guitarists is one of those scarily talented bastards that make it look so effortless and easy. Their 25 minutes set was made up of a loads of 2-3 minute numbers, none of which were mindnumbingly awful but none of which really stick in my memory the day after. It was old-fashioned rock'n'roll that made me think of the sorts of band Morrissey has had playing behind him this past 20 years or so. Their debut LP is out in June, and if they happen to be in town again promoting it, then they might be worth a second visit if here's nothing better on in town.
Maybe the problem with thinking back to the support is that they're being judged against the main act.
Now I'm not the world's biggest fan of Glasvegas and this was the first time I'd seen them. I've only a couple of their singles in the collection and haven't bought either of the two albums released so far. What I do know is that they captured the hearts and minds of many Scottish bloggers back in 2007 and 2008, and the reward for those bloggers in assisting spreading the word was to be treated like criminals by Columbia, the record label the band signed to. This was a gig I went to with a genuinely open mind.
Glasvegas are a band you could never accuse of writing and recording songs of exquisite beauty. But it's impossible to deny that they know how to reach out to their fans and bring out the raw emotion in even the most cynical and hard-hearted Glaswegian.
They took to the stage with singer James Allan looking more than ever like a doppelganger for the late Joe Strummer. All four members of the band had leather jackets....and this was probably the first gig all year that not a single beard or checked shirt had been worn by any of the performers. It was shaping up to be an old-style night.....
By choosing to open with two of their best-known and most popular songs - Flowers and Football Tops and Geraldine - the capacity crowd was immediately involved in the show. Fists were pumped, hands were held high above the heads and the songs were roared out at the top of their lungs...so loud it was impossible to hear the band. And it was chaotic too. You'll notice from the picture above that the stage at the Classic Grand isn't the highest, and despite being no more than six or seven rows back and dead centre, it was impossible to ever catch anything more than a glimpse of the band from about the chest up...and there was no way at all of setting eyes on Jonna Lofgren as she pounded away in astonishing style on the drums at the back of the stage.
Glasgow isn't a city that does big spiritual church services with an almighty choir that has the congregation rockin, rollin and gyrating in the aisles as they do in so many placed in the USA. Instead, we come to our own 'churches' like the Classic Grand, the Barrowlands. the 13th Note and Stereo to do our own version. James Allan is our current equivalent of Reverend Al Green....and the hysteria and sheer joy of the audience never abates for the entire 90 minutes of the set plus encore.
The highlight for me was the cover version of Be My Baby. The Wall of Sound as done by the Jesus & Mary Chain backed the mass choir of the church of the Old Firm. A fantastic moment that took me back 30 years when the sheer euphoria of a gig made for a great night out, no matter how good or bad the band sounded.
The main set closed with Go Square Go which made the inside of the venue feel like a madhouse in which all the inmates had been denied their medication for days. It also brought a moment of unintended hilarity. As the band left the stage, someone from down the front threw the contents of their glass backwards - it turned out to be water, probably from melted ice. It hit a female fan just in front of me direct in the face but she never flinched......and I couldn't help but make the comment that the last time I'd seen someone so calmly take a facial in this particular venue must have been more than 30 years ago as me and my mates did what adolescent boys all did in that era and used fake ID to sneak into the porn cinema....it was the advent of VHS and Betamax machines in the 80s that killed off the Classic Grand and its ilk.
Glasvegas are so in charge of things that they encore with three songs made up of new or lesser loved material from the second LP. Then James makes a sincere and heartfelt speech about playing in front of a hometown crowd before somewhat inevitably the show draws to a close with Daddy's Gone a song which I reckon could pass itself off as Scotland's national anthem for the 21st Century. Yer Da could be your parent....but could just as easily be the political party you've always put your faith in all your life or, as recent events in my home city have shown, the football club to whom you've given a lifetime of allegiance. It could even, if an impending referendum vote goes a certain way become all about the country itself....
Fade to feedback and good night. Which indeed it was.
JC, Sunday 8 APRIL 2012
mp3 : Glasvegas - Geraldine
mp3 : Glasvegas - Be My Baby