On this dreich Friday evening, with the Gallowgate enveloped in black ice, I arrive early at the Barrowlands amidst a sea of skip hats.
Opening tonight for Mac DeMarco is psychedelic-pop wizard Ben Montero and band.
They quickly break into their first song abound with lush, Beach Boy-esque harmonies and jangly guitars.
The band see fit to remove their wooly hats, as they quite literally warm into their set; a well-paced and talented display of zig-zagging synths, and boundless enthusiasm from frontman Montero.
The band introduces their latest single ‘Vibrations’, and it becomes clear that the early-to-arrive crowd have been waiting for this song.
With its glam-rock influences and anthemic chorus, Montero’s eccentrism is on full display.
This is followed by the percussive crowd-pleaser ‘Pilot’, which nicely rounds off their set.
The ballroom has steadily filled up with Mac DeMarco’s white-socked disciples, awaiting the arrival of their slacker-pop messiah.
The band arrives on stage one-by-one and DeMarco is last to arrive, wearing a “see you Jimmy” hat and clasping a bottle of Buckfast.
The tone for tonight’s show has been set.
The band open with ‘On The Level’, a synth-heavy slow-groover from 2017’s This Old Dog, a slight departure from the trademark sunny, lo-fi guitar sound of DeMarco’s past records, however it’s not long before the guitar comes out and the familiar riff of the ever-popular ‘Salad Days’ ensues, the crowd is now jumping as chants of “la la la la-la” reverberate around the room.
A unidentified, inflatable object is lobbed into the crowd – a reoccurring theme of tonight’s gig, I soon discover, is low-flying items being thrown back and forth from the stage to the crowd; I’m now beginning to think that maybe the abundance of headwear in the room was less an aesthetic choice, and more a practical one.
As expected, there’s plenty of newer material on show tonight from This Old Dog, that being said, DeMarco strikes an ideal balance between serenading fans with new tracks whilst throwing in old favorites such as ‘Cooking Up Something Good, ‘Ode to Viceroy, ‘Let Her Go’ and ‘Freaking out the Neighbourhood’.
Guitarist Andy Craig’s guitar chops get a good airing throughout, particularly on the new album’s title track in which his dreamy slide guitar solo brings the room to a quiet standstill.
Meanwhile, DeMarco’s underestimated vocal abilities shine on slower, more schmaltzy tracks like ‘For The First Time’ and ‘One More Love Song’, and despite his goofy on-stage persona and dad dancing throughout, there’s a definite maturity to his lyrical offerings.
Having said that, things get a little hairy towards the end of the set, when drummer Joe McMurray takes centre stage to perform The RHCP’s ‘Under The Bridge’, with DeMarco taking his place at the drum kit.
There’s no encore as such, but the band do perform a semi-structured “jam” of sorts, featuring a cover of The Proclaimers’ ‘Over and Done With’ as well as The La’s ‘There She Goes’, sandwiched between bit parts of ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, and some Herman’s Hermits for good measure.
Despite the cacophony that’s erupted on stage, the crowd sings along to every word.
It’s clear that there’s a lot of love in this room tonight, and it may be the Buckfast, or DeMarco’s awkward charm, regardless, I get the feeling we’ll be seeing This Old Dog back on Barras soil again very soon.
Words: Amanda Johnston
Photos: Stewart Fullerton