PAWS, Hug & Pint, 22nd December 2016

PAWS have been one of my bands of the year and their album No Grace is definitely one of my albums of 2016.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice already this year, once in a headline gig and once as support. They have just been on tour with Frightened Rabbit including 3 shows at the Barras which I didn’t go to, but when they announced a standalone gig in a tiny venue I couldn’t resist another trip out to see them, even if it was just a few days before Christmas.

Getting there was, as ever, a challenge this time including misplaced earplugs and somehow managing to loose my car keys inside the car. 

When I eventually made it to the venue I found the stage times were quite late and I had a good half an hour before the support was due on. I took a brisk walk up Great Western Road to clear my head then ventured on in.

The support, American Clay, were ok. They were good enough but didn’t grab me and I got a bit bored towards the end.  Although frankly I was knackered and just impatient for PAWS to come on. 

After what seemed like ages, they took to the stage. I had told a friend earlier that I had never seen a bad PAWS gig yet, and I’m glad to say this is still the case. I think I even enjoyed this one the most, now being more familiar with their songs in general and their live interpretations in particular. I still can’t sing along as much as the more enthusiastic fans, but I joined in where I could.

We heard a good number of songs from No Grace, a fair few older ones that I recognised and a few that I still didn’t recognise but enjoyed nonetheless. 

The band commented on the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd, which was a shame because certainly everyone around me was having a great time, singing, dancing and cheering their favourite songs. It’s a pity that wasn’t evident from the stage. 

Philips vocals are always strong and confident. One benefit of playing a small venue is that it is full of proper fans, so we were able to hear the quieter, unaccompanied lines without interruption. Drummer Josh is just incredible to watch, all flailing limbs and apparently on the verge of toppling out of control at any second, yet tight and precise. He breaks at least one stick every song and the others are held together with copious lengths of tape. I actually don’t know how he does it but it is huge fun to watch, if nerve-wracking and exhausting. 

As a trio they sound epic. The difference between PAWS and the likes of the support is the ability to create variation, in expression, rhythm, texture and pace. The use of ebbs and flows in the music and lyrics and the clever insertion of build-ups and breaks. PAWS are an exciting, dynamic band and I was glad I waited to see them in this kind of venue, it was the perfect last gig of a year that had been full of good music and great live gigs.  I hope to see much more of them in 2017 and beyond.

(Fret Photography were there taking pics, not sure they’re up yet but they are bound to be better and more plentiful than mine)