Stag and Dagger, 1st May 2016

I had never heard of Stag and Dagger, but when We Are Scientists announced that they’d be playing at it this year, I was of course going to check it out. It’s one of those multi-venue indoor city festivals. An indoor festival in Glasgow makes a lot of sense at any time of the year.

Once the rest of the programme was announced I was disappointed that I didn’t recognise too many other names on the bill, and that WAS were not even headlining one of the venues. Oh well, times change, and for me it would be a good chance to discover some new music.


I wasn’t able to get there too early but arrived in plenty time to pick up my wristband and catch the band on before WAS, which was GUN. Gun/GUN are old school Scottish country-ish rockers. They were good (reminded me of one of my favourite Frasier quotes when Roz tells her sister “For your information Classic Rock is both classic and it rocks!”) but had the same problem I find with most straight-forward rock music – it can get a bit dull and predictable. They were clearly very experienced and talented musicians, and the lead singer had swagger in buckets but for me it was missing something. It was also strange to hear a band from the era when singing in an American accent was de rigeur, even if you were from Coatbridge.  I’m so used to hearing the likes of Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic comfortably singing in their own accents that it was bizzare to remember that once upon a time not too long ago people affected the other to be taken seriously. And I suppose if you have adopted that for a number of years you can’t very well change suddenly.



So, the older demographic classic rock crowd dispersed and the younger indie crowd filtered in, as well as the ones who were getting in early for the later bands. I had loitered at the back for Gun, but took up my usual position at the front for WAS. I’m going to try to hold back on the WAS -love cos at the time of writing I’m en route to see them again in a stand-alone gig in Manchester, so will likely write about that too. (I did – find it here) So We Are Scientists highlights – new stuff sounds WAY better live (I hate that this is the case cos not everyone gets the chance to see them live and experience the full force of live versions) I love the edgier, harder sound, old stuff re-worked is immense, they opened with a killer version of The Scene is Dead and we got a banging new version of Impatience too. Other Keith is their best drummer yet (Ok, I never saw Tapper but we can be pretty sure he’s not coming back) I really hope they keep him, I love the different quality he brings and he looks like he’s having a blast doing it. It was Other Keith’s birthday the next day, so Original Keith led us all in a rendition of Happy Birthday.


We Are Scientists


Keith Murray


They only had a 45 minute slot but jam packed it full of oldies, a few from Barbara, and 3 new songs from the new album – Buckle, In My Head and Classic Love.

Keith Carne and Chris Cain

I had a bit of time before the next band I wanted to catch, so I hung around at the venue a bit in case any of the band were around. Original Keith and Chris came out but were in a rush to go and get some food so didn’t stay. A few people caught them and asked for photos, I ended up taking a group photo for someone but didn’t get to speak to the guys at all. I was just about to pop into a shop to get a snack to fuel me for the next couple of bands when I saw Other Keith heading towards me.  He remembered me from the last couple of times in Glasgow (read all about them here and here) and we had a quick chat about the new record, his dad (hi Tom!) his Scottish roots and birthdays. I told him I was going to the Manchester gig so would see him again soon.

Next up was We Were Promised Jetpacks (best band name ever) at the Art School. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve seen WWPJ before. I have a vague recollection of looking for them at a festival or some event. In any case, they are a band that have been on my radar to check out properly. The Art School was packed, so I was glad I got there early. I took a position leaning against the sound booth. Not a great vantage point but I was tired and thought I might have to sneak out a bit early to make sure I got in to Slow Club later on.


We Were Promised Jetpacks


WWPJ were really good. I have no idea if they were playing old stuff or new stuff, but they clearly have their dedicated fans who were loving every minute of it. I could have done with a bit longer to really get a feel for them and how they were different from other Scottish indie-rock bands, but I liked the sound of them, especially the more sweeping, landscape-evoking ones.

I was keen to catch Slow Club because I’d heard a few friends talking about them and I had a quick Spotify listen and really liked their sound. So it was over to the CCA for this one, by now I was really digging the indoor-ness of this festival due to the intermittent Glasgow rain and it was cool to just flash a wristband and take your pick of small venues and different bands. The CCA was surprisingly empty for a headliner but Slow Club were very impressive. 1 girl, 1 guy, a couple of guitars and a keyboard. They sang beautiful melodic songs of love and loss and actual hunger, as was explained. They were funny, cool and magical. It was such a chilled out way to end a busy day of very different kinds of music.

Slow Club

So all in all it was a successful day, a rocking We Are Scientists gig, and finally getting to see 2 other bands that I had been meaning to catch for a while.  The format of the day was well planned, all smallish venues around Sauchiehall Street as well as the ABC as the focal point. I’ll be keeping an eye out next year and even if I don’t immediately recognise names I might just go along anyway, I’m always on the lookout for new music.


Mystery Jets, Art School, 20th February 2016

We’ve been waiting aaaaaaaaaaages for something from the Mystery Jets, it’s been 4 years since their last record and to be honest I had been fearing the worst thinking the next announcement would be about a break-up. But hip hip hooray out of the blue we get an announcement about an album and a smattering of tour dates.

I was then a bit apprehensive about what the new offering would be, the Mystery Jets have taken a very different tone and feel with each album and I just hoped that they wouldn’t decide to go down the electronic route (ewwwww).  But once I got hold of the album “Curve of the Earth” – available in all good record shops etc etc I was extremely pleased to find that it a) was hardly electronic at all, and b) was really good. Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate a new album, especially from a familiar band and with a new sound, but from first listen I knew I was going to like it.  It was another new-ish direction, but it was a road that made sense for the Mystery Jets. It is less poppy, more mature with a broader, deeper texture than previous records. After listening a few times I really got the sense of it being a kind of concept album, there are strong coherent themes that run though the whole record and after a while I found it difficult to listen to 1 song in isolation, it made much more sense as a whole, as a complete story.

I snapped up a ticket to the Glasgow gig, a bit disappointed that they were playing one of the smaller venues in Glasgow – the Art School – but was looking forward to it with great anticipation. In order to make the gig I had to call in emergency babysitting favours and drive around 200 miles, which just shows how determined I was to be there.

I’ve been to the Art School before, but a few years ago and in the smaller hall. At least we were in the larger hall this time, but it still felt too small for them.  I got there early, but unfortunately there was a delay letting us in, so we had to wait in a very cold entranceway for what seemed like ages, and I had already checked in my coat before I found out.  I did however catch a glimpse of William and Kapil wandering round. We eventually got in and I made a beeline for the front, determined to be down at the barrier.  Actually I ran to the bathroom and the bar first (diet coke, I was driving) and was pleased to see that the whole venue had been kitted out to be fully accessible.  Lifts to each floor and an accessible bathroom (and gender neutral bathroom).  I know that venue access is important to the band, but I had never seen anywhere in Glasgow with facilities like the Art School. They support the Attitude is Everything campaign – as should you.

Support came from Declan McKenna. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he came out all confidence and with a band with 2 girls in it, so I was interested.  He was young. He looked REALLY young. Like my cousin has a (teenage) kid who wouldn’t look out of place next to him. But the Mystery Jets were REALLY young when they started out, and almost everyone I see on a stage these days is younger than me, so I just need to get used to that. He was good. Well, the band were good, if he’s a solo act I’m glad he put together a band rather than using a computer backing.  He’s definitely one to watch.

Much as I love the Mystery Jets, I’ve seen them a few times now and there have been good times and bad times.  Luckily this was a good time.  They were on top form, probably it was as good a show as the very first time I saw them back in the QMU.  The set was heavy on the new record, there was a nice couple of more acoustic numbers in the middle (argh, I knew I should have written this nearer the time – Bombay Blue and Bubblegum? It may not have been, sorry, bad fan moment), a rockier section with my favourite Taken by the Tide. My other favourite Blood Red Balloon sounded amazing as well.  There were the usual hits from yesteryear and surprise! Dennis, which went down with us oldies.


Since Kai left the band they have been working with new bassist Jack Flanagan, who I hadn’t really seen much of, but who seems to have been fully integrated.  He actually spoke to the crowd much more than the other 3, perhaps they are pleased to have someone to take on that role. He’s one of those instantly likeable, without being arrogant or annoying, kind of blokes, and gave the show a nice lift.


They all looked like they were having a good time, which always makes for a more entertaining show.  It was a longer set than I ever remember them playing before, it was the last stop on their tour and they seemed to want to make the most of it.  Blaine’s vocals were stronger and richer than I remembered, but still had that beautiful vulnerable quality on the likes of Flakes. William had always taken secondary vocals but he has a larger presence on this latest album and it translated well to the live stage.  Maybe they’ve both been off taking singing lessons these past 4 years, or maybe it’s maturity and experience but Williams’s singing seems to have improved measurably.  There’s a descending run on the chorus of Midnight’s Mirror which was just sublime.  And his guitar technique remains as insane as ever.


I sang along, danced along, cheered and got a face full of William’s jacket when he jumped down to the barrier. One of those gigs that you never want to end.  Sadly it did. I bought a cool “baseball shirt” (long-sleeved t-shirt) and returned to the cold Glasgow streets.  Some people were waiting by the tour bus, and I thought about it for a second, until the cold air hit my lungs and the rain started to fall and I remembered previous occasions waiting outside for a LOOOONG time for them to never emerge so I decided to call it a night.

I’ve heard them get a fair bit of radio play with the new stuff, so hopefully I’ll see them again before another 4 years pass.