Teenage Fanclub, Poster Paints at The Barrowlands, 16/9/21

It’s been a long time! Live music is actually happening again, I’ve managed along to a couple of shows since venues started opening their doors, but it only felt right for my first live review back to the fabled walls of Glasgow’s Barrowlands.

This venue is special in the heart of everyone from Glasgow, it’s for many the place where they first saw live music, it’s the place where every Scottish band wants to play, I’ve seen worldwide superstars say this is the best venue in the world, and while my scope isn’t the widest I’d be inclined to agree.

With that said, Poster Paints, tonight’s support, are a hometown band playing their very first Glasgow show and it’s here, that is some feat! Singularly, the duo have done their time and more than deserve this stage. We first covered guitarist Si Liddell back in 2012 with his Olympic Swimmers project, while he went on to become a member of Frightened Rabbit. We go back even further to 2011 for our first sighting of vocalist Carla Easton, then in Futuristic Retro Champions, but she went on to become a regular feature through both TeenCanteen and her solo outings as Carla J Easton.

Poster Paints is a new project though, the duo met while being involved with The Vaselines and what has happened is a creative match made from dreams, their two singles to date weave in and out of your psyche with a careful caress, like the gentle recline of your favour chair with a buzz from warming dram. In a live setting this is enhanced further, the duo with full band in tow, they sound like they were made to play this venue. They already sound quintessentially Glasgow, that overwhelming indie pop energy, that shimmering guitar beauty and Easton’s vocal sounding more enchanting and breathy than ever.

They soar during their half hour set, elements of shoegaze filter through, but here it feels in the loosest sense, the gaze in not down but on the horizon at the night ahead with that want for it to never end. ‘Circus Moving On’ is a proper earworm of a track and sounds huge, and as the iconic venue fills up there’s hairs on your arms stuff with the perfectly sculpted pop of debut single ‘Number 1’, it’s the kind of number that if released when tonight’s headliners were launching would have been touching the charts. Keep your eyes on these guys, they fully deserve to be going places and this with any luck is just the beginning.

Talking about quintessential Glasgow bands, look no further than tonight’s headliners, Teenage Fanclub have under their belt over 30 years of success with countless acclaimed albums and one of the most loyal and adoring fanbases you will ever witness. I am ashamed to say this is the very first time I have seen them in a live setting, but it is nothing short of unadulterated joy from the very first note of ‘About You’. The set is crammed with classic tracks, beautiful warm guitar tones and perfectly formed words.

From some portions of the crowd there is a lukewarm response to an announcement of playing tracks from new album, Endless Arcade, but put in the bigger picture the new album is a triumph, these songs sound as wonderfully part of the set as anything else of the past three decades. Yes, it may lack the “hits” of their 90s hayday, but it’s an absolute joy of album filled with tracks that weasel their way into your head and stick there once you give them some time, a thing we’re all too guilty of not doing in this day and age. Considering some records on the list it’s almost a travesty that it hasn’t made the longlist for this year’s SAY Award, which was announced tonight and incidentally the last solo album, WEIRDO, from Poster Paints’ Carla J Easton is deservingly listed. Fast forward a few years and some of these tracks will be set staples and sit as treasures to every room they play.

Maybe it’s a hometown crowd, but there is an absolute joy on the faces of the band that just makes you feel home, it’s a contagious energy that just makes them all the more likeable. Talking about individual tracks and how they relate to this audience seems redundant, I’ve read enough live reviews of this band, and heard stories from their fanbase the world over to know that this very feeling computes to every venue they play. Teenage Fanclub are not just special to Scotland, they are a special band, a timeless band, an iconic band, it just happens this is their home.

A cover of their pre-Fanclub days band The Boy Hairdressers’ ‘Golden Shower’ is a nice touch during the encore and seems to be the only track unique to tonight from their current tour, while ever familiar closer of debut single ‘Everything Flows’ allows another eruption of mass singalong. Live music is back guys and here’s hoping it never goes away again!

Words: Iain Dawson

Photos: Warrick Beyers

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