“Glasgow is better than Edinburgh, it is definitely more fun than Edinburgh but the question is do you have any castles?” this stage banter becomes a recurring feature of POND‘s appearance in the west end of Glasgow, this rather chilly evening “cold out but warm in here” quips guitarist Joe Ryan, clearly some things never change.
And so Tame Impala offshoot POND proceed to take our breath away with their brand of psychedelic space rock (whatever space rock might be), the bright and fuzzy synths of ‘Waiting Around For Grace’ followed quickly by weirdly glamtastic groove single ‘Elvis Flaming Star’.
Effortlessly blending newest creation Man It Feels Like Space Again with dollops of back catalogue goodness the band send those inside Oran Mor into a state of sub-bedlam.
Blatant heavy metal riffs that butt right up against the ethereal, psychedelic zeniths and orchestral flourishes in a manner that might be gratingly overwrought, if it wasn’t so perfectly executed.
Then there’s Nick Allbrook’s featherlight warbles, which is dramatically at odds with the pounding drums and almost cheesy epic metal sounds.
Indeed the cheese levels reach such a height at one stage there is even reference to a one Mr. Phil Collins as an outro appears tinged with a little more than a sprinkle of ‘In the Air Tonight’.
While having a tendency to jam and stretch things out they never really get lost or become a mess.
Some of their best songs, ‘You Broke My Cool’ (dedicated to this here fine city) and ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind’ receive live-show embellishments that are more than welcome.
They take the form of a new, semi-related coda riff or an extended section to provide for slight improvisation and light up this old church. Fans may argue that the Aussie outfit have lost some of the early loose improv techniques that drew them in on early albums, but as a live proposition that mindset thankfully remains.
There is also time to hear quite possibly the best cover you’re likely to witness in the form of ‘Baby’s On Fire’, with the band somehow simultaneously managing to evoke the spirit of the original while twisting it into a psych rock piece of magic.
After some Eno delivered from the womb with synth in hand comments Allbrook and Ryan wage war on the balloons floating among the crowd tonight as drummer Jay Watson takes on vocal duties for ‘Holding Out For You’; a sombre keyboard led prog number showcasing POND’s softer and perhaps more eloquent side.
The 6th LP’s title track finishes off proceedings nicely tonight, providing one last 10-minute long drawn out jam along with more 60s esque drugged up vocals intersped with emphatic sparkling guitar riffs.
On such form soon the debate won’t revolve around which city is better than who, instead could POND do the unthinkable and overtake Tame Impala?
Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Neil Donaldson