Live review: Electric Soft Parade, Poor Things, Dancing Years at Tut’s 26/10/13

ESPpressshot1-554x369I’d suggest six years is a long time in any context, but in music six years could equate to a lifetime, indeed, during Electric Soft Parade’s six-year hibernation period many a new pretenders to the indie throne have crashed and burned.

Not that the brothers White have been fading away quietly into obscurity; when not dabbling in solo projects Alex and Thomas White have devoted a considerable amount of time to their other band, the excellent Brakes.

 

That once Electric Soft Parade appeared ready to accept said new kings of indie pop throne must seem like a former life to the brothers.

Flashback to 2003 with a Mercury nominated debut album the Brighton chaps looked set to take on the world, yet having been unceremoniously deleted by their label a few years down the line from that nomination and top of the pops hijinks the guys had much to muse over.

Following on from some tenth anniversary shows for debut LP Holes In The Wall, Electric Soft Parade return to King Tut’s following the release of fourth album Idiots.

Prior to the brothers White and co appearing those who have showed up early enough are treated to a few numbers from Leeds six piece Dancing Years.

After a lovely opening number singer David Henshaw is quick to remind the Glasgow crowd that they are representing Leeds and that this is their first full band show in Glasgow.

Henshaw also informs us that the guy in the crowd who wildly claps and cheers every motion of the band is his cousin.

Recent single ‘Here’s To My Old Friends’ demonstrates what the band is all about; a sort of emotional voyage quiet and measured yet seemingly capable of bubbling into a passionate frenzy at any moment.

As cello and percussion carefully compliment Henshaw’s weary pining of the old times Tut’s is brought to an almost hear a pin drop silent standstill; quite the feat for a support band in Glasgow.

If Dancing Years maintain current form and produce a full album along the lines of tonight’s set then I’d be willing to bet family members cheers and clapping shall be eclipsed by applause from a wider spectrum in the future.

Biggest surprise and possibly overall highlight of the night goes out to the quite magnificent cover of Broken Social Scene’s ‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl’.

Quite rare that an artist can carry over just as much passion and conviction when straying from their own material but this cover is as good as any you’re likely to hear.

“You’re so full of life, yet sleepy eyed” a wistful and delicate Henshaw remarks on a song I believe is named  ‘Leaving the House’, a beautiful piece which juxtaposes the many layers of sound on stage perfectly; folk-rock that wouldn’t look out of place on a Damien Rice or Beirut release.

Rough and ready can be a compliment, can’t it, well can’t it? Either way it certainly applies to Scottish trio Poor Things (only in name it would appear).

They certainly possess rough edges but with the brand of harmonic chaotic slacker rock there angling for isn’t that the point really?

I’ll forgive the band for introducing the song ‘1998’ as “wasn’t that when John Collins missed a penalty,” primarily because well, he didn’t.

After plodding through much of their set with banter and ooing ooing combos (after promising not to) much of the crowd had grown impatient for tonight’s headliners, however, with the revelation that they had to wrap up their set a new found zeal seemed to envelope the trio.

‘That’s not been twenty minutes has it?’ it was perhaps with this sense of injustice in mind that the band quickly thrashed two ‘quickies’, which recall some of Japandroids better moments.

As well as anything else it was nice that Poor Things didn’t roll out all the Glasgow you’re the best like ever yadda yadda guff that every Tom Dick and his Harry seem so fond of.

The drummer, who seemed to play in relative darkness, bravo sir you, can certainly shake a stick.

Next time, play every song as if you’re about to be kicked off stage!

Electric Soft Parade kicks off their set with something I’ve never witnessed before: hugging of spectators prior to any bar or note being heard, impressive stuff in itself.

“Give us a Glasgow kiss,” jokes Alex as the band ease into their set.

Following the love in fest prior to the set the crowd seem remarkably quiet until the band delves into two classic Hole in The Wall numbers; ‘Empty At The End’ (complete with extra solos) and ‘Start Again’.

The former in particular whips portions of the attendance into a foam at mouth mess as they are transported back to the soundtrack of their lives ten years ago.

New numbers such as psych pop number ‘Brother, You Must Go Your Own Path’ and ‘Idiots’ present a more polished and mature band, a band that know their strengths and unashamedly stick to it.

‘Mr. Mitchell’ proves a standout of the new tracks and is well received by a thankful crowd, it’s soft intricate yet eccentric tone sees the band in a new full on pop light, like much of the new material it wouldn’t sound out of place in a 60s pop chart.

However, there’s no getting away from the fact the highest points both musically and in terms of the crowd reaction are the oldies, which brothers White and co seem only too happy to play.

‘Lose Yr Frown’ from their second album “the one they dropped us for” is another highlight of the set while ‘Things I’ve Done Before’ and ‘Silent To The Dark’ get hearty receptions with no small measure of audience participation.

It’s refreshing to see a band return to the live circuit, comfortable in their own skin, while able to enjoy the continuing support of a hardcore fan base, which they may have feared could have deserted or forgotten them following the six year hiatus.

“Can we take you on tour” beams Thomas “this place is a second home for us,” says Alex who fights off flu symptoms throughout.

As well as the flu the band appears to wrestle with sound problems, in particular one of the mics being largely inaudible.

Troopers that they are they manage to dismiss these inconveniences and roll back the years with the sort of accomplished performance that wouldn’t have occurred back in those TOTP days.

Well, accomplished other than forgetting the second verse of your own song!! This amusing misdemeanor fits in nicely with a relaxed ramshackle feel of proceedings; in amongst hugs and howls the bands distaste for Tom Odell is made abundantly clear “Elliott Smith or Tom Fucking Odell?”

After joking would anyone require earplugs Alex, clearly enjoying himself, went on to take on some drum duties of his own on the ridiculous outro for the fantastic ‘Silent to the Dark’.

The brothers and their band finish appropriately with ‘Idiots’, note to brothers White: you’d be idiots to allow another six years to pass before welcoming the Parade back again.

Words: Andy Quigley

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