By Kenny McMurtrie
October 25, 2012
Never has it been so safe to travel to Glasgow from Edinburgh for a gig, it would seem. Gone are the exciting days of potentially missing the last train home if you stayed on to demand an encore, as you’re lucky if gigs go on past ten o’clock now. All rather un-rock‘n’roll, but the heady mix of rampant capitalism and council curfews, at least in the larger venues, looks to be neutering the experience. Who cares though? Last night was too cold to be shuffling about the town if you were too late to get to Queen Street Station and those that have never had to rush off early won’t miss what they’ve not known. Still, it doesn’t half make gigs less of an event.
It also means you need to get your support acts on stage sharp-ish, so I’ve unfortunately nothing to say about Gulp (who were apparently on ten minutes after the doors opened to a likely tiny crowd) or Egyptian Hip Hop, who were told to pack it in just as we entered the auditorium around 20:30. No one likes to be kept waiting for hours to see an act, but that works both ways.
What, then, of the headliners? Well for one thing there was no chance of them letting you forget what city the show was in. Undertaking a drinking game based on a shot every time Glasgow was mentioned would have seen you legless. In fairness though, this was the biggest show they’ve played to date in, arguably, the crucible of their rise. Having only seen them once before (at a Glasgow Stag & Dagger, downstairs in the School of Art Union – a show that I only dimly recall) this was a chance to see what heights that rise has taken them to.
For starters they’ve got an interesting light show on stage, resorting to the more traditional flashing on-and-off of spotlights only at the tail end of the performance. Prior to that you got a looped clip from Alphaville and various lights/shapes projected onto blinds behind the band, as well as shaped lights lit up behind the blinds. The pendulum-like bulb swinging behind the central pair of blinds during the set opener was particularly effective. I could say the sound quality was the best I’ve heard all year, but as this is the first gig I’ve been to in 2012 I’ve no comparison. It was damn clear though.
What lets the group down ever so slightly is that they’ve only got the songs from their self-titled album to play – no new songs after 3 years of slogging it out around the country is a bit mysterious. On the one hand they were clearly very at home on the size of stage the ABC provides and the likes of Franz Ferdinand (fourth album apparently on the way…) should be worrying about having to hand on the baton, but they themselves have contemporaries who’ve released an album closer to their date of formation and who’re setting their sights on number two. Having worked the circuit this hard and concocted an album that will deservedly be on many of this year’s ‘Best Of’ lists, they don’t want to undo that good work through what may be perceived as complacency now.