Celtic Connections: Three Blind Wolves, John Knox Sex Club at The Hug and Pint, 25/1/16

With Burns night in full flow, where better to be than the sweaty basement of The Hug and Pint for tonight’s Celtic Connections show, where two of Glasgow’s best loved underground bands treat us to a feast of live music?

Those who were worried that John Knox Sex Club had called it quits for good a few years ago, fear not, they’re back and as raucous as ever.

Frontman Sean Cumming spends half the show in the crowd, hugging audience members and belting forth his lyrics.

He’s a man of contradictions, who’ll spend the time between tracks quoting Tam O’ Shanter with a touch of Morrissey’s archness only to slip into jovial piss taking with his bandmates.

‘Hard Days Coming’ sounds like something Burns himself would roar out while drunk on Buckfast, while the epic closer ‘Blind Fate’ sees Cumming summon the demon intensity of Nick Cave as his band let loose a rattling heavy blues that collapses into fiddle and static.

Tonight’s headliners are excited to tell us that tonight is the first gig they’ve ever sold out in advance – although presumably someone was happy enough to sneak in Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, spotted enjoying a pint at the back.

For five years Three Blind Wolves have trodden the boards in Glasgow and further afield and it’s good to see them still getting a great response even if they’ve never quite made it to radio rock status.

‘Black Bowl Park’ with its rock n’ roll influenced solo is a catchy pop-rock number, while new track ‘Calm Down Ally’ is a barbed and catchy song about being sacked from a call centre.

There’s a new EP on the horizon so tonight offers a chance to give several new songs an airing and by the sound of it they’re still sharp, merging skiffly solos with energetic geek rock.

Returning to the stage for a solo acoustic number, Ross Clark whispers for quiet before plucking out the sombre ‘St Kilda’, but it’s the energetic ‘Emily Rose’ that sees the full band return to the stage to deliver their best call-and-response moment of the night that really sends the audience off happy.

They may never be the most glamorous band in Glasgow, but Three Blind Wolves play with real heart and for tonight that’s plenty.

Words: Max Sefton

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