Monday, 23 December 2013

PLEASE COME BACK HOME: Glasvegas return home for a Christmas gig at the Old Fruitmarket! Support comes from The Strange Blue Dreams!

Glasvegas returned home to their native Glasgow on Sunday for their Christmas homecoming show after having toured latest album, 'Later...When The TV Turns To Static', extensively over the last few months. The setting for the night was The Old Fruitmarket which has kept all its period charm from back when it was actually a market back in the Victorian era. It was an apt setting for a Glasvegas gig and the lads demonstrated this well as they roared through a strong sixteen song set which spanned all three of their albums and of course, their Christmas EP.
The night got off to a good start when we met Paul Donoghue, the bassist, in the smoking area round the back of the venue (we originally approached him for directions before the penny dropped)! Anyway, after photos had been taken we were back on our way and arrived at the venue for 6:30 when we were told the doors were meant to open. However, the first (and only) snag of the night hit when we were told the doors were not to open for another hour! Anyway, we eventually got in and were immediately impressed by the venue.
Half an hour later, the support took to the stage in the form of The Strange Blue Dreams. This five-piece, also from Glasgow, take their influence from the fifties and play a mix of rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and country. They looked the part as well, as if they'd just come out a time machine from the fifties, and the double bass and mandolin were nice touches as well! They played a short half hour set in which they impressed the majority of the crowd. They had good stage presence, interacted with the crowd well and had a selection of catchy tunes which, after all, is exactly what you want from a support act. Hopefully these lads will go on to big things.
Next up, was the main attraction of the night, Glasvegas. They came on stage to the backdrop of their recording of 'Silent Night / Noapte de Vis' and with a four beat count-in from Jonna Lofgren, the drummer, they were away with the eponymous opening track from their latest album. The song provided the crowd with a driving beat and a great opportunity for a sing-a-long early on in the night. This was followed up by the rocking number that is 'Youngblood' and then by 'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry'. This, the third song, was perhaps when the crowd really got behind the band as James Allan's lyrics were echoed back at him from all corners of the room. Next, the band performed 'Euphoria, Take My Hand' which demonstrated Rab Allan's immense skill as a lead guitar player as he picked his way through perhaps one of the catchiest riffs of recent years. Following this, a more sombre note came when the band played a haunting version of 'I Feel Wrong (Homosexuality Pt. 1)' in which James puts himself in the shoes of a homosexual warning the world that 'once a day I think about killing myself'. The song itself shows James' ability to relate to people in all sorts of situations through his songwriting, which is another rarity in bands and songwriters of today. The set continued to flow with single 'If'. Perhaps one of the best songs Glasvegas have ever put on record and with a really upbeat marching band rhythm throughout the verses it provides another opportunity for the crowd to get going. The lyrics again are a strong point for the band during this song and musically it is strong as well. 'If' was followed by a peculiar choice in the form of 'Secret Truth', especially considering that 'Flowers & Football Tops' was not played during the night. However, despite the fact it is not the band's strongest track, the performance was sound. The band got back on track with 'The World Is Yours' and 'Dream Dream Dreaming', crowd favourites in which the lyrics were again echoed back at the band. Then the band fell silence for a brief period of time before James introduced the next song in his strong Glaswegian accent: "this is Geraldine". The venue erupted as Rab once again demonstrated his fine guitar playing with another exceptional riff and by the time the drums came in, with the bass driving away in the background, the crowd were in full force. For the next three or so minutes, the crowd screamed the words of 'Geraldine' back to James in near perfect unison before the song came to its natural end. Meaningful lyrics followed again during 'Ice Cream Van' and the main set was concluded with a boisterous rendition of 'Go Square Go' - another point at which the venue erupted as a chorus of 'here we f****** go' brought the set to a grand finale. The band now departed the stage as the crowd continued with the chant.
James eventually reappeared clutching his guitar. He stepped up to the mic and explained that his sister had asked him to play a song of their Christmas EP for the occasion. This left the crowd guessing - 'Cruel Moon'? 'Please Come Back Home'? 'F*** You, It's Over'? However, James soon launched into a solo version of the brilliant 'Please Come Back Home'. This moment seemed even more poignant when you remember that a fan suggested they play this song tonight in the memory of all who died in the tragedy at the Clutha Bar and one cannot help think of this as James repeats the line, 'so please come back home', as if he is in deep emotional pain and he has actually lost someone in the tragedy. After this the full band return to the stage to perform the menacing lead single from their latest album. 'I'd Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)' is a true break up song with hate and disgust coming through the vocals at every moment. The gig was concluded with the ultimate Glasvegas finale with their biggest hit 'Daddy's Gone', followed by 'Lots Sometimes'. The former providing as good a sing a long as ever with Paul's driving bass playing coming to the fore and the latter having just the same effect. However, I could've sworn that James got some of the words to 'Lots Sometimes' in the wrong order!
Overall, Glasvegas played a fine set and it provided a perfect homecoming show. However, it is in fact more than that, as in recent times Glasvegas have released, in terms of critical and commercial acclaim, a disappointing second album; been dropped from their record label and had disappointing sales for their latest album. So, Glasvegas definitely have a point to prove and they are certainly doing that in their live show. Away from the stage though they are still matching their contemporaries in both musicianship and songwriting and one can only hope that Glasvegas do one day get back the recognition that they have earned and that they had at the point of their ground-breaking debut record. An exceptional gig.
The Strange Blue Dreams
In My Nature
Reverberatin' Love
Pretending Everything
Warm Place
Twilight Zone
Later...When The TV Turns To Static
It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
Euphoria, Take My Hand
I Feel Wrong (Homosexuality Pt. 1)
Secret Truth
The World Is Yours
Dream Dream Dreaming
Ice Cream Van
Go Square Go
Please Come Back Home
I'd Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)
Daddy's Gone
Lots Sometimes
Hope you enjoyed this feature on Glasvegas and The Strange Blue Dreams! Check out our previous feature on The Capers!
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