Well, well, well. I wasn’t sure that I would write this one up, because I wasn’t sure I had anything more to say on a band I have written at length about many times before. I am also tired, so very physically and mentally tired from life stuff that I wanted to enjoy these gigs, immerse myself in the escapism of the moment and not have to remember details or come up with descriptions. Saying that, I never write about gigs as a chore, it’s something I enjoy doing.
I wasn’t even going to go to these gigs. When they were first released, the thought of going to Dunfermline or Kilmarnock, even for We Are Scientists, wasn’t particularly appealing. I had seen them twice earlier this year and expected that to be it, but when PAWS were announced as support, my mind was changed. I have missed PAWS recently, as we await news of their next album so a double-whammy of two of my favourite bands persuaded me to buy a ticket to the Kilmarnock gig which handily was on a Friday. As the date drew nearer, I caved and made the necessary arrangements for me to go to the Dunfermline gig on the Wednesday too. I knew that I would kick myself if I had been sat at home. I arranged to meet up with a gig pal in Dunfermline and I had persuaded a non-WAS-fan friend to accompany me to Kilmarnock.
Both shows were in tiny venues, Dunfermline was a nice Irish-style pub, with the venue in the basement including tiered levels and booths. Kilmarnock was a small nightclub with the stage set up on the dance floor that had to be quickly vacated afterwards by the band to make way for what helpful local “big Billy” let us know was sure to be a “crackin’ rave”. We didn’t hang around long enough to find out if this was true.
I’ll not go into too much detail about each gig, but here are some selected highlights and lowlights:
PAWS – consistently a great, solid, entertaining band. New songs sounded fab and make me want the new album right now. Philip’s delivery of vocals has that raw emotional edge but solidity of conviction in what he is singing. Josh’s drumming is as vigorous, riotous and lightening quick as ever. I still can’t get used to watching him in action and do so with jaw dropped and a sense of impending injury to either himself or those in the vicinity. As it was them that had really drawn me there, I revelled in every second and didn’t take a single photo. There aren’t many bands that have grabbed me from day 1 and have kept me wanting more, but PAWS are one of them. Top guys and a band you should check out if you haven’t done so already.
No Wait at Five Leaves – I love this song more and more every time I hear it live. We were treated to it both nights, and each time I wanted to run up to Keith Murray afterwards, hug him, shake his hand and tell him how utterly gorgeous that song is and how it makes me feel some weird mixture of emotions that I can’t comprehend yet but I think one day I will.
Sprinkles!! – one of my favourite all time WAS songs ever, I was delighted to hear it in Dunfermline. Again, one that is supremely emotional for me, gives me shivers each time but I still sing along with a huge smile on my face.
Catching up with the guys – over the 2 nights I had a few chats with all 3 guys, talking about holidays, New York City and small Scottish towns.
Letting go – even though it was in 2 towns that I had rarely, if ever, been to before, a WAS/PAWS gig is a comfortable, friendly place. It was so nice to be able to be in that space again, singing along to every word, waving my arms in the air and dancing along with people who were strangers but who were sharing that moment and experience.
New merch!! – in the absence of Heart is a Weapon shirts in my size (see below) and having a rather extensive collection of both WAS and PAWS t-shirts already, I opted for a new tote bag.
Still no Heart is a Weapon live – I really hoped that they would start playing Heart is a Weapon, but sadly we didn’t hear it either night. And they still don’t have the associated t-shirt in small size. Come on guys! Pretty pretty please….!
The locations – I understand the rationale for playing places other than Glasgow and Edinburgh again, but I’m not sure the small town thing really worked. I don’t think either venue I attended was sold out and they were tiny venues. I can’t help but think they would have been better off in one of the smaller venues in the bigger cities. To be honest I don’t think WAS have a big enough fan base in Scotland any more, and PAWS don’t have it yet, to warrant playing these small towns. Saying that, it was nice that we didn’t get kicked out immediately after the set was done, and the security staff were MUCH nicer than the ones usually encountered in Glasgow.
People on phones – oh my good god – the people and their phones!!!! I was on the barrier in Dunfermline and once or twice was distracted by people using flashes on their cameras/phones. It was bad enough for me, I only saw it out of the corner of my eye, I hope it didn’t distract those on stage at all. In Kilmarnock there wasn’t a barrier as such, more some steps and a railing. We were behind the folk who were right at the railing. Despite there being only a handful of people between us and the band, we were still faced with a constant visual interruption of cameras being held aloft for multiple photos and lengthy videos. One couple stood right at the front, stock-still and miserable-looking, filming almost the entire WAS set. Not otherwise participating, just filming. At one point the girl took a photo, fiddled with filters, posted it to Instagram, then showed her companion the results, apparently proud of her achievement. This took a whole song. Which meant that I missed that whole song cos this malarky was happening right in front of my nose. When I’m at the barrier I do take some photos myself, but there you can be more discreet and not disturb those behind you. I did take 2 short bursts of photos during 1 song (It’s a Hit, I’m over this song now, sorry) in Kilmarnock, but otherwise kept my phone in my bag, sticking to my plan of giving myself over to the experience. Unfortunately my experience was blighted by other people’s lit up screens.
I know that some artists have banned phones from their concerts. I wouldn’t go as far as that, having your phone at a gig can be particularly useful if you go to gigs on your own or need to meet up with mates, if you have kids or other reasons you might be called away urgently. But bands have power. Mystery Jets insist that all the venues they play at are fully accessible, The Spook School require bathrooms to be gender neutral. Venues oblige, or the band’s business goes elsewhere. So I wish more bands would use their platform to remind people to be considerate and respectful of those on stage as well as their fellow audience members and instruct people to limit their camera/phone use and instruct security to have a word with repeat offenders.
Anyway, I did take a couple of snaps, they weren’t great, but I was glad that I stuck by and large to my plan of living the gig as it happened and well, I have enough photos of those guys anyway….