After getting off to a not-so-peachy start due to frontman Matthew Rawlings’ guitar deciding to “throw a tantrum” at the thought of opening with the guitar line from ‘Are You Alright?’, it seems Friends In America have some ground to make up – though Rawlings’ light-hearted conversation prevents things getting too awkward.
Throughout the set, which clocked in just shy of an hour, the Glasgow-based quartet play 2013’s What It Is To Be in full (although out of order), with the added musical sauce of latest single ‘The More I Have, The Less I Own (The More I Learn, The Less I Know)’ and future single ‘Hushaby’ which sees the night drawn to a close in a spectacularly noisy fashion.
Guitarist Hamish Black’s introduction of the latter track is fully indicative of the artist–crowd “banter” as a whole, as he passes comment on the sequential nature of time, in that it very much feels like everyone present is friends (Friends in Glasgow, if you will) and the interaction is on a very sincere level.
As well as that down-to-Earth approach, Rawlings’ vocal deliveries also carry a weight of sincerity and nervousness as he evidently loads every line with emotion, and the crowd humorously join him in shouting “Oh Matthew you know that I love you, but you’re full of shit!” from ‘The More I…’ – or at least the second half.
The music itself, if you’re unfamiliar, is a bizarre brand of alternative pop that’s fully infectious, but entirely not run-of-the-mill, accented and characterised by Rawlings’ sparse and poetic lyrical style and some funky grooves.
In a live setting, some of the atmosphere caught on record seems to be lost, but that could be attributed to anxiety, excitement or intoxication – or a mind-altering combination of the three – but regardless the well-crafted music and well-constructed stage set of house lamps set the tone with little difficulty.
Amid all the discrepancies and mishaps, Friends In America put on an engaging show that is driven on by the music quality and refreshingly honest and sincere crowd interaction.
If all that emotional richness isn’t enough for you, just picture guitarist Hamish Black, in all black (including Ibanez guitar), kicking over a lamp in the heat of the moment during the last song – HEAVY METAL ENDING ANYONE?!
Words: Kyle McCormick
Photos: Bill Gray