Live review: Advance Base, Machines in Heaven, Behold the Old Bear at Sleazy’s, 10/7/13

Advance Base 8It may seem like your average Wednesday evening, but in truth nothing of what’s about to go down comes near what you’d perceive as average, or ordinary in the slightest.

The fact that Glasgow’s been boiling hot for several days is evidence enough that things are not what they usually appear to be.

The line-up tonight is an interesting cluster of acts, seemingly not specifically linked by anything other than they all play the overtly emotive music and are all of the male species.

This aside, the manner in which they play it and in what capacity varies from sitting to dancing, shouty to whispery, and from natural to fantastic.

First on stage is Behold the Old Bear, a trio of Glaswegians fronted by Raindeer MacFarlande and flanked by Del Reid and Cameron MacFarlane, a band whose neat description on Twitter is “music in the style of typewriters”.

Sat among an organised pile of instruments they deliver some of the most heartfelt, tender and convulsive indie pop that has ever been produced through this venue’s amplifying system.

behold,the Brown Bear 3

It’s a wonder a sound so big can come from these three men alone along with a well-constructed scheme of pressing keys and strumming strings, and when it all comes together they make the room seem much larger than it possibly could be.

Sandwiched between this and the night’s humble headliner is another local outfit of four, seemingly, human beings under the suitable moniker Machines in Heaven, your go-to act for new bright and bursting electronica with an ability to affect even the sense of touch.

From nowhere, all of a sudden, there’s chaos and a heavy beat.

Performed with only two synthesisers, two guitars and a computer, the sound feels almost extra-terrestrial, instruments indistinguishable from each other and any additional singing heavily filtered or tampered with to make it sound less human.

What you see and what you hear are different things; close your eyes and you could easily forget the four individuals behind the equipment.

If the night had a theme it would be that tricky, twisted and beautiful relationship between man and his machine.

Machines in Heaven represent that place where one ends and the other begins.

When they cooperate the music turns fantastic but as soon as one or the other fails the audience is reminded of the fabricated side to the extraordinary.

Their sound may be larger-than-life but in the end it is made and maintained by the human hand.

Machines in Heaven 1

Advance Base, aka Owen Ashworth, formerly known as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, continues to break down logic, with his songs of Christmas on one of the hottest days of the year, in a room that soon turns so quiet you can hear his chair creak.

An obvious contrast to the previous act, without the filthy beats and for whatever reason singing like he’s never able to properly breathe out, he too creates a sense of the unreal.

With only a handful of inanimate apparatus Ashworth transports you to a dream in another dimension, a spell that only breaks when the machines go quiet and instead the room is filled with roaring cheers: the human response.

Hiding under his bushy beard he really is the epitome of humble, making room for questions and requests in between songs and double-checking no one has a bus to catch before playing a few extra songs.

The concert is so sensitively intimate, and so otherworldly at the same time.

Then again, this is turning out to be an evening dedicated to contrasts and illogicality, from which the entranced audience is only really brought back to reality once stepping out into the warm Glasgow night again.

more photos

Words: Jo Bagge
Photos: Ronnie Poffley

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