Category Archives: live review

Das Plastixx (single launch), Bluebirds, The Bleeders at Audio, 29/4/18

The Bleeders seem to have morphed out of The Modests and as a duet of drums and guitar create a hard rocking wall of sound that hits you right between the eyes.

A superbly energetic performance from lead Jackson Harvey is only briefly interrupted by a stage dive that disconnects his guitar, but not by the broken string, which seems evident for most of the set.

An accomplished performance given his first gig as a duo with Daniel McGuigan was only last November.

Their blistering paced alt rock performance sets the tempo for the rest of the evening.

Bluebirds serve up some garage rock and blues with a psychedelic edge; dark and menacing, Daniel Telford’s angst driven lyrics and charisma are the focus of this performance.

Mighty powerful delivery and gritty subject matter with a punk mentality furnish an outstanding performance that seems all too short.

This is Das Plastixx’s night and as the band which formed in 2016 release their latest single ‘You Wait for War’ as the follow up to their debut EP Button Up in January this year.

A four piece of guitars, bass, drums and Jack Mohan on vocals and keys they have a very full grunge rock sound with a hint of psychedelia, due in the main to the keys, but with some outstanding guitar work by Mark Anthony Carroll who fills out the songs with some first-class guitar solos.

Mohan gives a bit of a Liam Gallagher vibe when not on the keys with his hands behind his back; he appears to be wearing a tiara, but I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with hair trouble.

Garage rock with a post punk 90’s feel and great instrumentals their individualism sets them apart, their future should be bright.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Natalie Prass at Mono, 29/4/18

It has been three years since Virginian singer-songwriter Natalie Prass emerged with her self-titled debut, a collection of quirky, 60s-inspired folk.

As she returns in Glasgow this evening in advance of her upcoming second record, The Future & The Past, there have been hints of a shift in style to more outright, unashamed pop.

The barely-covered backstage area at Mono exposes the beautiful pre-show ritual of Prass and her band, jovially dancing as they ready themselves to go onstage.

It is perhaps just as well they are suitably warmed up as Prass’ newfound style provokes dancing by its very nature.

Energetic opener ‘Oh My’ incorporates elements of funk and soul, while ‘Never Too Late’ features dreamy psychedelic synth.

Early airings of fan favourites ‘Your Fool’ and ‘Bird Of Prey’ are bolstered to suit the new direction and are all the better for it, sounding as fresh as they ever have done.

The lyrical content of Prass’ newer material is a reaction to the undercurrent of misogyny that flows through the political spectrum of her home nation.

Recent single ‘Sisters’ is the most prominent, and when performed tonight, is a defiant celebration of feminism, with the call-to-arms refrain on the empowering chorus of “keep your sisters close to you”.

An excellent ‘Why Don’t You Believe In Me’ is delivered fantastically by her talented band, providing them with the opportunity to flex their creative muscles during an extended jam.

Their leader is the real star of the show though, and Prass has become a far more confident and assured front-woman since she was last here three years ago.

An engaging performer, she body pops her way through the upbeat ‘Short Court Style’, and even when she moves behind the keys for a solo ‘Far From You’ – a touching tribute to Karen Carpenter – her presence commands the whole room.

Before closing the main set with ‘Ain’t Nobody’, Prass brings out cake and candles to wish her keyboard player happy birthday, as if the evening needed any more of a joyous feel to it.

Tonight’s show may have been a precursor for the new record, and to road-test new songs in front of an audience brimming with anticipation, but it instead feels like a celebratory victory lap.

It’s clear from the material premiered tonight that Natalie Prass’ forthcoming sophomore LP will be the defining of a true great.

Words: Graham McCusker

Siobhan Wilson with the Demi Quartet at Edinburgh Reid Concert Hall, 28/4/18

Somewhere in heaven an angel is belting out psalms like it’s Friday night karaoke in Govan.

Fortunately this transcendental trade-off means that those of us present at the Reid Concert Hall on Saturday evening are treated to Siobhan Wilson singing with the voice of an angel.

If I were to read an article that opened with those two sentences I would probably find myself involuntarily dry-retching into my jumper sleeve, as I’m sure many of you currently are.

Wilson’s stunningly pure voice however is wholly deserving of such vomit-inducing hyperbole.

The young Elgin-born songwriter’s second album There Are No Saints, released on Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad Recordswas one of the highlights of 2017 and she recreates it for us tonight accompanied by her regular guitarist and the Demi Quartet – of whom there is, somewhat perplexingly, five.

She takes to the stage resplendent – although a little nervy – in rainbow coloured fairy wings and after taking a few tentative lines to find her voice – and her confidence – she bursts into life along with the Demi Quartet and gives a swelling rendition of ‘Whatever Helps’ to open the show.

As she continues, one can’t help but feel that Wilson is holding back slightly.

The daunting size of the Reid Concert Hall has not been matched by the size of the PA system and at times it seems as though the young singer is being constrained by the sound technicians inability – or unwillingness – to crank the volume up.

Five songs into the set after a haunting new track that Wilson neglects to tell us the title of, the Demi Quartet – glowing with admiration though they may be – feel embarrassingly underused.

Fortunately she follows this up with ‘Dear God’ – a beautiful and devastating song that lends itself well to the string accompaniment, although is slightly tainted by the guitarist’s overzealous tambourine playing.

Despite this the song stands out as a high point and Wilson uses the room’s incredible acoustics to her advantage by moving around her microphone to recreate the haunting, ethereal backing vocals present on the studio recording.

Wilson’s cutesy stage persona somewhat shatters the illusion her thoughtful lyrics create, as she makes a remark about not being used to such a “posh” venue, so posh, in fact, that there isn’t even a bar!

Fortunately for the promoters the audience in attendance is possibly the driest group of people who have ever congregated anywhere outside of a church hall – a testament to Wilson’s folky appeal.

‘Disaster and Grace’ sees Wilson move to piano, and proves to be the most sonically successful arrangement of the night as the volume of the piano emboldens her and she allows her voice to soar.

She closes the show – after a second encore – with a cover of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’ (no, really), which she delivers with a knowing smiling after explaining that she was challenged to do so via an online poll.

All in all, a slightly underwhelming gig that is carried largely by Wilson’s incredible vocal capabilities while the Demi Quartet remain regretfully under-utilised (possibly under-rehearsed).

I had high hopes for this show so I won’t pretend not to be disappointed.

I’ll give Wilson the benefit of the doubt since this was a special one-off collaborative performance, and hope that I can catch her usual stage show another time and find it more up to my expectations. 

Words: Thomas Cross

The Animal Mothers, FRANKY’S EVIL PARTY, FAT BLACK CATS at Sleazy’s 28/4/18

An evening of musical debauchery at Sleazy’s kicks off with one of the busiest garage punk bands around FAT BLACK CATS.

Always guaranteeing an intense powerful performance tonight is no different; fast paced strong rhythms and pounding drums and FAT BLACK CATS blast through their repertoire with taps aff, swapping instruments and stirring the audience into a frenzy, which seems to be their mantra.

If you’re out shopping for an opening act to get the party started, then look no further than this multi-talented raucous trio.

FRANKY’S EVIL PARTYis back in town and has their own distinct views on how to party.

They deliver an equally intense but notably angrier and darker spectacle than FAT BLACK CATS.

Where each of the cats is at cypionat 250 times the front man there can be no denying that Josh is the focal point in FEP with his onstage antics, unique dancing and frightening fervour.

Kicking off with their latest release ‘Dolph Lundgren’ their delivery is as tight as a drum.

The driving, pounding and wailing set includes live favourite ‘Disco Inferno’ and new songs ‘Scummy John’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance’.

They throw the rulebook out of the window doing their own thing and nobody is going to get in the way.

The tension and barrage of sound gets under your skin like they’re using some form of voodoo.

The Animal Mothers is headlining this one and if you aren’t emotionally drained by this point then they are determined to extract what is left.

The Animal Mothers are prolific when it comes to laying down tracks and tonight they begin by introducing us to new song ‘Tsunami’.

Rapid-fire succinct rock ‘n’ roll tinged surf punk they fire through some of the best of their recent album, The Animal Mothers Must Be Destroyed.

Wallace Pate on lead is in charge of whipping up the audience with the assistance of FAT BLACK CATS who’ve got it all going on at the front of the stage.

A couple of new songs, ‘Holy Junkie’ and ‘In the Swamp’, and we finish with the usual finale ‘I Am Distortion’ and that’s it it’s over; breathe!

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Zoë Bestel (album launch), Annie Booth, Jared Celosse at Hug and Pint, 22/4/18

The tentacles of Last Night for Glasgow are stretching further and further so much so that with links to Olive Grove Records they can call on the services of Jared Celosse to support the Zoë Bestel, Transciencealbum launch.

Three solo artists in this intimate venue it is a sign of the expected atmosphere when you find the front of the stage seated (in fact with some reserved tables).

22-year-old singer/songwriter Celosse takes centre stage behind his keyboard and treats us to a set of beautiful and haunting songs about loneliness and love lost.

Celosse treats us to a taster of his recent EP, Four Cold Walls, and you can hear a pin drop during ‘Lost My Voice’.

In a short set we are treated to the first play of a brand-new song, all of which sounds very unique with standout individual vocals explained in part by his upbringing from London to Glasgow via Prague.

Annie Booth recently graced the same stage at her own album launch with a full band in tow, but tonight once more a solitary figure takes the stage.

Despite not having had a good day and deciding to run without a setlist (deciding which song to play as she goes along) Booth treats us to a set showcasing the recent album An Unforgiving Light.

Booth tells us early doors that she may not be brave enough to play a brand-new song sadly it doesn’t materialise; maybe a setlist would have forced her hand.

Regardless Booth gets the guitar to sing, with her wonderfully unique vocals.

It’s always a treat to listen to her performance and as ever there is an air of fragility belied by the confidence in her execution.

It always adds to understanding to know the context in which a song was written, and Booth explains that ‘Reverie’ is about the emotional turmoil after getting drunk.

Booth leaves the stage to be replaced by a guitar stand with two sizes of ukulele and this is the most ‘roadie’ action we’ve seen all night.

Zoë Bestel’s Transcienceis the latest release on LNFG and this is the first of two launch nights, with a Voodoo Rooms date in Edinburgh the other.

Bestel explains that she is going to perform the album as per the tracklisting despite the fact this will involve frequent changes of ukulele as well as some retuning.

Bestel takes time out to explain some of her thoughts in her writing, including the inspiration of the view of the Galloway Hills from her bedroom window, ‘Spiders’ written about the way the media portray and perpetuate hatred or the single ‘Eye for An Eye’, written in 2015 after the Syrian air strikes.

She goes on to tell us ‘Gumusservi’ is the Turkish word for the oldest relationship – which is in fact the relationship of the moonlight shining over water.

The performance is mesmerising and the audience reverential with barely a word being spoken during the three performances.

With the album showcase being over it is time for a cover as a finale and ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack is wondrous and just so right.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Madonnatron, Chupa Cabra, Objectified, Yung KP at Broadcast, 13/4/18

Yung KP is ‘young’ in every sense of the word having only gigged live since November 2017.

A straightforward three-piece guitar band with strong punk leanings they recently launched an EP on Fuzzkill Records, they have strong credentials and are building their craft with a number of live gigs this year.

Short sharp songs, aggressive vocals and equally aggressive drums and guitar these guys certainly let us know they are in the house.

Objectified is potentially the most exciting and unique band on the Glasgow scene at the moment.

More of a collective than a band, with a fusion of diverse ideas and influences, which crossover at just the right point.

Their performance is mesmerising with seven individual performers it’s hard to know where to focus.

If the band members seem autonomous then the songs are even more so; you get truly engaged when you don’t know who is going to sing next, what style it will take and how the rhythm will be formed.

With apparently no setlist and a quick chat to decide what’s next we are treated to the stand out songs from recent album, Talent, including ‘Behave Tony’, ‘(Thinkin’ About) Converting to Islam’, ‘The Slave Can Sing’ and ‘El Patron’ where Charlotte Arnhold loses her drum machine, but that doesn’t matter as they still demonstrate their diversity whether it be screaming guitars, synths, trumpet or the drums providing the infectious rhythm.

There is something just so right about how this all comes together, it shouldn’t work but it does.

Chupa Cabra take to the stage next with a more straightforward three-piece line up.

The garage rock band from North Wales bring their fast paced punky, rock n roll with singer and guitarist Hayden manically strutting about the stage like a latter-day Wilko Johnson.

His vocals are fast and fierce and where he is manic, Nathan on the bass is mister cool swaggering about the stage.

Songs from their recent self-titled album including ‘Assembly Line’, ‘King Leech’ and he single ‘Venice and Mars’ go down well with an appreciative audience.

An excellent set of straight up garage rock with loads of energy they have a strong punk vibe built around some classic rock and roll sounds.

It could have all went wrong when Hayden challenges the crowd about “all being from the Art School”, however it passes by with a “we love Glasgow” and all is good.

Chupa Cabra labelmates (Trashmouth Records) feminist post-punks Madonnatron are the headliners and sing with angst and feeling.

They deliver full rich sounds with multiple vocalists, dreamy and haunting at the same time the songs are a bit sinister exploring the darker side of femininity.

With the strong female contingent now commanding the front of the stage there is plenty of audience participation in the strong choruses and plenty dancing to boot.

With their new single ‘Mermaids’, which is performed on the night, getting some traction on Radio 6 Madonnatron are on the up and given this was a free gig with four excellent sets there can be no complaints.

Madonnatron close the proceedings with a fine gesture when they make a collection for the Simon Community.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Last Night From Glasgow 2nd Birthday Party with BiS, L-Space, Sun Rose, Stephen Solo at Stereo, 31/3/18

A sign of success of the not for profit record label Last Night from Glasgow is the packed-out attendance (and feel good vibe) at this second birthday party.

Kicking things off and compering through the night, as he is prone to do, is Stephen Solo, performing ‘solo’ as he does on this occasion he is armed with an electric guitar as opposed to a ukulele or iPhone as on previous occasions.

Interspersed with jokes and anecdotes Solo is the ultimate entertainer who as well as producing excellent music gives us a real and fun look at daily life through his songs.

Be it our reliance on the World Wide Web for everything in ‘Internet Song’ or a look at the ‘normal’ things we have to do that the Icon that was David Bowie would never have to do in ‘David Bowie Never Had To’.

Humorous, thought provoking, down to earth and producing great music with only a guitar and iPad this is what we (as label members) have come to expect.

A stripped back Sun Rose, in fact only two members Albert Kawmi and Gus Wemyss take to the stage next (the rest of the band are Manchester based).

With the support of some samples, Wemyss on synth and Kawmi on guitar they are able to recreate the full band sound impeccably.

Sun Rose has a strong funky, clubby feel to their music and we are treated to the first two singles ‘Smirk’ and ‘Minima’ as well as tunes from the debut album, The Essential Luxury.

One of the album songs, ‘Aishti’ is sung in Arabic and Kawmi asks “any Arabic speakers – I really hope not” anyway however it translates like the rest of the set it certainly sounds good.

L-Spaceis a dreamy pop band who embrace technology, which is no surprise given they seem to be from the future.

Floating, dreamy vocals with strong pop melodies and science fiction soaked lyrics L-Space are one of the more recent LNFG recruits.

They take to the stage with some props including a neon pink flamingo and Lily’s electronic headwear and they treat us to their latest single ‘Suneaters’ some recognisable tunes from recent gigs as well as a new song ‘Back Up Baby’ about cloned babies.

Expect these to form the basis of their debut album on LNFG due to be launched in September this year.

Closing the show are the excellent BIS, veterans in this company, it was a surprise albeit a pleasant one when intimation of their signing to LNFG came through.

BIS are a bubblegum power pop band who operate in excess of 100mph.

Following the gentle, dreamy pop of L-Space this is like building a crescendo of tsunami proportions to take us to the end of the night.

Introduced by Stephen Solo with a typical amusing anecdote about how the band were named (think taxis and love children!).

Where L-Space took us in to the future BIS take us back to the 90s as are treated to all the classics from their back catalogue.

Energy levels were through the roof with Manda Rin showing no signs of post-natal lethargy.

With all these recognisable hits and the fact that the music gets in to your soul the dancers in the crowd are out in force.

A couple of new songs are introduced with typical BIS gusto and probably as expected ‘Kandy Pop’ was held for the finale; what an end to an intoxicating night.

All that is left to do was pick up our members’ goodies including the next LNFG release the Zoë Bestel, Transciencealbum.

Oh what fun and more to come as a £50 member of Last Night from Glasgow.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Sunflower Bean at Stereo, 1/4/18

Easter Sunday always makes for a jovial atmosphere in Glasgow, and this is certainly the case as New Yorkers Sunflower Beanperform to a sold-out Stereo, midway through a whistle stop tour of the UK promoting their freshly certified top 40 album Twentytwo In Blue.

The band bounce onto the stage, with guitarist Nick Kivlen bizarrely draped in a Dracula cape, and lead vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming immediately exclaims “let’s play some rock music”.

Opener ‘Burn It’ certainly adheres to her request as the glam rock stomp kicks proceedings off excellently.

Sunflower Bean have been enjoying an increasing level of success as their new record has made the crossover from indie hipster band of choice, to a more mainstream audience.

An early airing of the melodic ‘Twentytwo’ shows how their material has stepped up in maturity, however, despite the “grown-up” sound, Cumming and Kivlen still playfully bounce and bop around the stage throughout their set.

The heightened sense of occasion is not lost on Sunflower Bean, who declare their kinship with Scotland.

Cumming reveals her grandmother hails from these very shores, and they dedicate a song to local stars The Van T’s, who are in attendance this evening.

‘Crisis Fest’, the song in question, is one of the highlights of the set – a glitter band style romp, complete with collective fist pumping from band and crowd.

In amongst the wealth of new material, the euphoric shoegaze of old favourite ‘Easier Said’ gets the warmest reception.

It is the first time that there is visible dancing in the crowd, and incites a mass singalong, which continues when the acoustic guitar is busted out for a tender, stripped-back cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, showing off a softer element in the trio’s depository.

After a brief loss of momentum, when guitarist Kivlen takes on the lead vocal on a shambolic ‘Sinking Sands’, the band end the main set with ‘I Was A Fool’, which just about escapes a plagiarism lawsuit from its striking similarity to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

After the briefest of encores, likely pushed by the strict early curfew, the band return to end the show with ‘I Was Home’, a fast-paced indie rocker that recalls early Kings Of Leon, and treat the packed crowd to a frenetic light show as a final cacophonous instrumental plays out.

The show this evening is a triumph, spearheaded from the front by the chemistry between Cumming and Kivlen, who give off the air of a peroxide Patti Smith and youthful Bob Dylan respectively.

Sunflower Bean look comfortable on bigger stages, which is just as well – with a sold out crowd hanging on every note, it certainly seems like they’ll need to make themselves comfortable on them.

More Photos

Words: Graham McCusker
Photos: Elina Lin

FREAKENDER presents L.A. WITCH at Sleazy’s, 28/3/18

After several years of constant touring, the long-awaited self-titled debut from Californian’s L.A. WITCH finally arrived last year to a wave of critical acclaim.

They take to the stage this evening in Nice N Sleazy – perhaps the most appropriately-named venue in the world for their brand of psychedelic-inspired garage rock.

By the time the Witch arrive, Sleazy’s is packed to the rafters.

As the band begin with an opening low-key instrumental, much of the crowd don’t even realise they have begun their set, however the deafening bass of an early airing of single ‘Kill My Baby Tonight’ drowns our any lingering murmurs.

It wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to find L.A. WITCH’s jams on a Tarantino soundtrack, or playing on a jukebox in Twin Peaks.

Their influences are worn on their sleeve and sound as much like early 60s Motown girl groups as they do with the current wave of modern psych groups.

Rattling through a 45-minute set with little respite, it is only on the gorgeous slow-build of ‘Baby In Blue Jeans’ that the pace briefly relents.

Even though each member is a key component to the gritty sound, the real star is frontwoman Sade Sanchez.

With a jet black mop covering her face, like a long-lost Ramone relative, her beguiling vocals – hidden under layers of distortion – and excellent guitar work, are what really captivates the audience.

It is Sanchez who leads the way on a closing ‘Feel Alright’ with anthemic riffs weaved between trippy interludes.

The venue this evening is significantly busier than their show in Mono last year, testament to the quality and impact that the release of their record has already had, but the band are a far tighter unit as well.

Their relentless touring schedule is paying dividends and even the newer material aired tonight is exceptional, promising much more to look forward to from the group.

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Words: Graham McCusker
Photos: Caitlin Macintyre

Phoenix at Barrowlands, 26/3/18

For once in the past few weeks, the weather is actually kind on everyone who decided to brave this Monday night, the clocks might have gone forward over the week end and stole an hour of our precious time but the Glaswegian crowd would never let a school night drag them down.

As the ballroom gets filled up with punters, slowly but surely, ‘Controversy’ by Prince blares out through the gem of a venue, the drumbeat mimicking a virtual beating heart catching everyone’s attention.

Suddenly the lights go off and the drumbeat morphs into the introduction of ‘J-Boy’ the first track from Phoenix’s latest album Ti Amo, released earlier last year, while the stage is transformed into a rainbow made of fluorescent lights.

The audience is already won over and when the heavy drums of ‘Lasso’ resonate, the packed front rows are jumping frenetically in unison, refracting the intense energy smashed on the drum set by Thomas Hedlund.

This frantic energy does not stop there, when ‘Entertainment’ kicks in the venue is already effervescing even though we are only three songs in, the only interlude in this melodic madness arrives before ‘Lisztomania’, when lead singer Thomas Mars approaches the crowd explaining that tonight he is going to need their help as his voice is “fucked” (his words not mine), this invitation is just what the crowd required to set the place on fire.

What transcribes from the band is what is felt through the crowd, everyone is lifted by the music, whether it is from some slow burner electro indie anthems like ‘Girlfriend’ or from guitar-driven fast paced tracks like ‘Armistice’ or ‘Rally’.

A certain intimacy builds between the band and the crowd and the atmospheric rendition of ‘Love Like A Sunset pt1’ proves just that.

The slow melody that builds to its crescendo is as close as it gets to an out-of-body-ish sonic experience.

The audience is conquered and when the lead singer expresses his love for “the best venue around” nothing else matters.

The night gets more and more intimate when the band comes back for a few more encores with only Mars and Christian Mazzalai at first, courting the crowd with a cover of ‘The Concept’ by local boys Teenage Fanclub before inviting everyone to celebrate Deck D’Arcy’s birthday on stage.

As a last hurrah, the band invites everyone to unleash what they have left on ‘Fior Di Latte’, for a final communion with the crowd and whomever present, even the sound engineer and light technician singalong.

The audience leaves the Barrowlands again with stars in their eyes; tonight Phoenix prove that the audience is the essential part of a great show and used their songs to transport the crowd away from the daily routine for a great couple of hours.

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Words: Jeremy Veyret
Photos: Brendan Behan