“I just want my crown,” implores Xcerts frontman Murray McLeod during opening banger ‘Live Like This’, to a near sold-out crowd in Glasgow’s Oran Mor, it’s not a plea, it’s a command.
Having released two solid, often great, records across the last five years, their third album There Is Only You is a triumph, it’s poppy without being corny, emotive but not cloying, personal and honest and rocking but rarely RAWK, and tonight The Xcerts show how adept they are at performing that tricky juggling act in a live setting.
After that mission statement the band, McLeod, bassist and fellow Aberdonian Jordan Smith and powerhouse Brighton drummer Tom Heron, careen straight into ‘I Don’t Care’, another highlight from There Is Only You.
Overall the set is a reasonably balanced retrospective of their career so far, marrying early fan favourites such as ‘Crisis In The Slow Lane’, from debut In the Cold Wind We Smile, with deeper cuts from sophomore Scatterbrain, like a sinuous ‘He Sinks. He Sleeps’.
Murray also takes to the stage alone twice, first for a low-key but plugged in version of Scatterbrain single ‘Young’, then later for a fully acoustic (and entirely un-mic’ed) rendition of ‘Aberdeen 1987’.
The latter is obvious but unquestionably stirring, with the entire crowd singing back to a clearly emotional McLeod.
Still, it’s the new songs that burn brightest tonight, particularly the euphoric ‘Kids On Drugs’ and aptly named future classic ‘Pop Song’.
Refreshingly, there’s no encore, after an instructive, crowd-participation sing-along of ‘Slackerpop’, Murray thanks Glasgow and there are no insincere platitudes here.
The Xcerts are a band from Aberdeen, they’re based in Brighton, so it might not be a homecoming, but it sure feels like one.
On this album cycle, in every way, The Xcerts are leaving their pop-rock contemporaries, yes, including their Glaswegian recent European touring partners and the elder statesmen playing The Barrowlands this same evening, so far in the dust it’s embarrassing, it’s time for that coronation.
Words/Photos: Sean Campbell