Editors, Glasgow Barrowlands, 3rd March 2020

Last night I was at one of the best, most fun gigs of my life and I almost didn’t go.

To be honest, since the last time I saw Editors in 2015 I haven’t really given them much attention.  I tried to listen to some of their new releases over the years but they didn’t really do it for me. I got bored listening to the same 2 or 3 albums and just sort of stopped. They were still on my radar, following them on social media etc but that was about it. They announced a “Greatest Hits” album and I ignored it. Then they announced a “Greatest Hits” tour and I took a sharp intake of breath. Ok, here we go. As I’ve said before, I’m not much one for nostalgia. Ordinarily I wouldn’t give this kind of thing much thought…..BUT….I never caught Editors during their first two (best) albums.  I saw them in 2013 and 2015 post-Chris, heavy into new album cycles with only a smattering of the old favourites.  This could be my chance to go back in time and finally see those songs live.  Ok, ticket bought.

Then I realised it was a Tuesday, mid-week gigs are tricky at the best of times but especially when the girls have evening activities. But things have been kind of stressful lately, I haven’t been to a gig since early December and since every free minute of mine has been spent studying I have rarely been out at all, the necessary arrangements were made and out I went.

The support were Whispering Sons. I had never heard of them. I didn’t think much of them. I could explain why but don’t want to waste time being mean so I’ll just say they didn’t appeal to me, but might appeal to you, so check them out anyway.

I decided to aim for the front of the crowd this time, after the previous 2 times I was either on the sidelines or further back. I was surprised to be able to get a spot in the 2nd row behind the barrier, to the right side.  People around were friendly and gave each other lots of room.  A few of us shorties stuck together to ensure we all had a decent view.

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Editors

Editors. Were. Phenomenal.

I was thrilled to bits to hear all those old songs live, I had to admit sometimes a bit of nostalgia isn’t such a bad thing. Honestly, missing seeing this band from becoming a fan in 2007/8 ish through the Chris years caused me actual pain.  The 2013 and 2015 shows were good, but not great.  Last night’s gig erased that pain and fed my musical soul with enough tonic to keep me elevated for quite some time.

They have so many good songs, it’s ridiculous. They played a fair few that I either didn’t know or only knew vaguely, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  The vast bulk of songs were from The Back Room, An End Has A Start and The Weight of Your Love, which suited me 100%. I really haven’t even listened to any of their stuff for about 5 years, which is a long time.  In a way made it all the more special when my memories were reawakened in a live setting, the whole of the Barras singing along making the songs 3-dimensional again. Papillon is still my favourite, but when they started songs like All Sparks or Blood, I would think to myself, “f*ck yes, this one is brilliant too!” and so it would go on.  For a full hour and 45 minutes, thank you very much

The people around me were singing, dancing, jumping, hands-in-the-air, full-on having a ball, it was such a lot of fun to be down at the front but not get crushed, we had space, we used it to dance and jump around, everyone had a great time and left without any bruises.

There are 5 Editors now, and clearly it is a team affair. The sounds, the energy, the melodies, rhythms and backing come from all 5 members.  I was Russell side and it was amusing to watch him play as if he had just strolled on to the stage to have a wee jam with his mates and look mildly amused that hundreds of people were watching him.  Unfortunately I couldn’t see Ed, as he and his kit were obscured by a piano otherwise I would have been interested to see him in action.  I couldn’t see the other 2 Chris-replacement members on the other side of the stage at all. None of that really mattered, though because whilst not detracting from the very real and important fact that all 5 members contribute to the awesomeness of Editors, there is also Tom Smith. When Tom Smith is on stage, one can only look at Tom Smith and behold his magnificence.

He is an intense performer without being scary or off-putting. Rather his intensity draws you in, you are a part of it.  He focuses on a specific point on the stage, singing to it, gesturing to it, addressing it, then he suddenly turns to the audience and looks us in the eye and we are transfixed. We are part of it too. He sings with his whole body. He writhes, turns, twists, crouches, elongates and almost spasms but somehow does so gracefully, elegantly, sensuously.  It is a continuous gyration that either generates, or is generated by the song, we aren’t sure. The song and the man are one. His voice. Oh lordy, his voice. I have never heard anything like it. Deep, resonant, each syllable enunciated almost too precisely but that is his style and it suits him. It isn’t forced or for effect.  The whole package is just…mesmerising.

But he also makes some expressions while singing that are, frankly, quite comical.

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Tom’s funny faces

Anyway, before I write a 5000 word essay on how awesome Tom Smith is (and I could, believe me) I will just remind myself to go back and listen to those old records again, maybe give the newer ones once more try and wallow for as long as I can in the feeling of finally seeing (almost) “classic” Editors live and glad that I was able to go to what turned out to be a very fun, very emotional, uplifting kind of gig.

We Are Scientists, SWG3 Galvanizers Glasgow, 5th December 2019

So it’s practically the law that I have to see We Are Scientists play live at least once every year, so I’m pleased to say this has now been accomplished in the dying weeks of 2019.

When the gig was announced it was part of their With Love and Squalor “50th Anniversary Tour”. It has actually been 14 years since their first (well, first official) album was released but I guess 14th anniversary wouldn’t necessarily draw in the crowds. On the real 10th anniversary the band played 2 special album-in-full gigs in New York and LA, then a one-off in London. At the time I wasn’t bothered about missing out on these. Whilst WLAS is a fantastic album that I still listen to now and again, I feel like I have heard pretty much all the songs live many a time and I much prefer seeing their newer stuff performed on stage. I’m not generally a fan of anniversary tours, preferring not to dwell in nostalgia but rather look forward to what’s next. However, a WAS gig is a WAS gig and as it has been a whole 16 months since I last saw them, a ticket was duly bought.

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The day of the gig saw Glasgow drenched in rain and battered by winds. Lovely. I had dropped my kids off and headed into town, forgetting that SWG3 doesn’t really afford the same opportunities for mooching around before a gig as the city centre venues do. So I sat and waited in my car as it got buffeted by the wind. Thankfully the rain eased off before the short walk to the venue so I didn’t arrive dripping wet. Been there, done that too many times. Often in June.

I’ve been to SWG3 twice before, once for Belle & Sebastian in the outdoor area and once for Major Minor Music Club gigs for kids, which I think was in the TV Studio. This time we were in the Galvanizers.  I used to go past what is now SWG3 on the train all the time and remember seeing the actual galvinizers yard in operation, so it was pretty neat to see the building repurposed in this way. Once in, I found a couple of friends, then settled on my barrier spot.

The support band was Marsicans who I seem to have heard/read about a few times but never actually seen or heard properly. They were lively, energetic, fun and succeeded in bringing the crowd in without it being forced or premature.I like a support who proves their worth, and these guys put on a good solid show, with some nice tunes, interesting turns and gave off a really positive and uplifting vibe. I’m not sure I’d seek them out specifically again, but if I saw them as support or on a festival bill I’d definitely be interested.

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Marsicans

In between bands I got to thinking about how often I’ve seen WAS now. By my reckoning and a quick consultation of this very blog, I think this gig was number 17 or 18.  Since 2008, as I came “late” to the party and missed the original WLAS tour. If you are thinking that’s still a lot, I know some people who run into the 30s with their count….

So the WAS show was split into 2 parts – the WLAS album in sequence, then after a short break they came back to do a mixed set from their other albums.

The WLAS part was a lot of fun. The crowd were clearly there for it, and everyone was singing along. My fellow barrier buddies and I sang literally every single word and it was great to share in that collective experience. Although I would gladly ditch songs like Callbacks, Cash Cow and It’s A Hit from any and every future setlist, I still sang and danced (wiggled my ass off if you like) and punched the air on the chorus high points. The Scene Is Dead, Can’t Lose and Textbook are still among my favourite WAS songs ever and it was particularly special to hear Lousy Reputation (that bassline, ooft!) live, it doesn’t often make a normal setlist.

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We Are Scientists

On to the second act. I was actually looking forward to this part more. It was nice to see Ghouls make a reappearance as the opening song, and Chick Lit sat nicely in there too, although I was happy to see plenty songs from Megaplex and Helter Seltzer.

They played KIT!!! Wow. It was beautiful, Keith’s voice so clear and strong over a muted but driving bass and drums. Keith commanded the attention with his vocals but it’s always worth checking out Chris and Carne during these songs, they are always doing something interesting and often unexpected. I actually preferred it without the whistle/flute/whatever over the top, that always reminds me of Orange Walks and makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Anyway, KIT was the high point of the gig so far for me.

Until they played No Wait At Five Leaves. What is it about that song that gets me every time??? If I was open-mouthed enthralled during KIT, I was welling up during Five Leaves. The stage lights were low and moody, the song resonated around the huge, high-ceilinged room and the frequencies somehow met my own and swept me into the song and the song into me and I was overwhelmed. This. Band. These. Guys. They are doing it again. I love it and I love them.

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Keiths

They finished part two with Nice Guys then a short encore of Dumb Luck (yeah I could also so without either of those in any future setlist, sorry) and we were done. Afterwards we headed towards the merch stall. There was an impressive array of cat-themed items for sale, including a tea towel and a babygrow. Between waiting to get paid for some freelance work and the amount of WAS merch I already own (off the top of my head – CDs, vinyls, 1 mug, 2 tote bags, posters that are now in drawers, 3 setlists, 1 lyric sheet, badges, a wristband, 2 pairs of underpants, numerous t-shirts, 1 hoodie and quite probably other items that are stowed away) I felt that I should pass this time round. I did however have a good catch up with Carne and said a quick hello to Chris, although unusually couldn’t think of a thing to say to him. He did, however, tell me that they were working on new material for next year which was good to hear.

Comedy moment of the night – when a group of girls at the merch stand were urging Chris and Carne to draw a “boaby” on their posters. Then explaining to Chris and Carne what a “boaby” is in this part of the world. For the record, Chris went for an abstract approach with a worryingly angular boaby and Carne went full-on realism with a little more attention to detail than was strictly necessary for a boaby on a cat poster.

Sweet moment of the night – when a burly security guard approached Carne asking for a copy of their record, then shyly asked if he could have it signed.

So I’m still not sure about the whole anniversary gig thing. Whilst it was good to hear some of the lesser-played songs from WLAS, I would much rather have had them randomly thrown into a regular setlist. Saying that, judging from the proper tour bus and the bigger lighting rig they have on this tour, if it hadn’t been marketed as such then this tour likely wouldn’t have happened and we wouldn’t have been treated to a rare 90 minute long WAS show. I’m still much more interested to hear what they have to offer us on their next album, but it was good to catch them at least once this year.

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It’s hard to rely on the rhythm section

 

Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019 – Bellahouston Park, Glasgow – The Cure & Foo Fighters

This is the story of how I accidentally saw The Cure play their first Scottish gig in 27 years and finally saw the Foo Fighters, very much intentionally, for the first time in my life.

When the Glasgow Summer Sessions (kind of like a series of 1-day festivals – outdoor concerts with 3 or 4 supports and 1 major headliner) line ups were announced and the Foo Fighters (ok, ok, I know it’s just ‘Foo Fighters’ but for ease of writing I’ll mostly add the unofficial but commonly used ‘the’) were on the bill, my bandmates and I decided this was a gig that we just had to be at. I had never managed to catch them live before, so when the tickets were released I was all set with 2 screens on my PC open and my phone at the ready. Unfortunately, at one point a page refreshed, I mis-clicked and ended up buying a ticket for The Cure the day before. Luckily I also managed to bag a Foos ticket, as did all my bandmates, so it all worked out well in the end.

I had tried to sell the Cure ticket, but a combo of me running out of time, re-sale sites not keen on taking them due to possible ID checks and the gig not actually selling out, resulted in me deciding I might as well go and see The Cure. Why not? They are one of the biggest bands ever, might as well catch them while I can. The whole haven’t-played-in-Scotland-for-27-years thing created a nice buzz about the gig.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it along early enough to see any of the support bands but did see all of The Cure’s set. While I’ve never been a massive fan of The Cure, I like them well enough, and knew most of their songs either from general exposure or a bit of dedicated listening now and again. I’ll admit I did get a bit bored toward the end of the main set, all the songs were getting a bit samey, with no change of pace or tempo. There was no chat from Robert Smith or any of the others, it was song after song after song, I could have done with some variation. Smith’s voice was incredible, though, and held up throughout the 2 hour set. What was lacking in the main set, they delivered in the encore, pulling out all of their more up-beat numbers, getting the field dancing and singing along. Sadly, to my and the girl behind me’s dismay, no Lovecats.

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The Cure

Overall I enjoyed it, I was glad I went. I feel like The Cure are a band that you should probably see once, and now I’ve done just that.

So on to the main event.

In the car on the way home from the gig, I tried to articulate what it had meant to me, and failed miserably. Although it was 2am thanks to an unscheduled McDonalds pitstop while we waited for the traffic to clear. I’ll give it a go now…

Firstly – this time we got there when the gates opened, determined to make a day of it, festival-style. We moseyed around the site, grabbed a couple of drinks then took up our positions. The Summer Sessions do a VIP thing and I thought that they had a reserved section nearest the stage, turns out I was wrong about that. Anyway, we were able to get on the barrier in the second section. Still a decent view of the stage, with the big screens for back-up and added detail.

The supports:

  • Hot Milk – despite sharing a name with a maternity bra brand, they were a lot of fun. Paramore meets Avril Levigne meets Fall Out Boy, but combining all the best qualities of each.
  • The VanT’s – they were ok, nothing particularly stood out for me about them, but I reckon in another time and place I would enjoy seeing them again.
  • Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – I liked the music, Frank Carter himself was a bit annoying and while the “ladies only mosh-pit” thing was well received by the crowd, it felt a bit forced and I’ve seen it done better by other bands (Dream Wife)
  • Slaves – not my thing at all. Loud, shouty and got on my nerves. Trying to be a right-on punk band that’s saying something, all they said to me was “I’ll do anything to get all up in your face and get attention but you can’t criticise me cos I’m a right-on punk”. Banged drums like a toddler. Urged us all to “fuck the hi-hat” then brought out a tambourine on a stand. Get a hi-hat mate. Best bit was when the girls behind us launched into “Parklife” along to one of the songs. (They are very “Lahndahn”) My friend Phil thought they were the best band on the bill, however, so they have their fans. Just not me.
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Hot Milk
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The Van T’s

I am a big Foo Fighters fan. Have been since fairly early on, since they got UK radio play anyway. I bought albums, listened on long bus commutes and considered myself a fan. Then I kind of went off them a bit. I felt they were getting a bit predictable, I was bored of that kind of standard rock type music and was exploring elsewhere. In recent years I found myself going back to them again, enjoying the old and the new material. I really liked their last release – Concrete and Gold. I’ve watched them countless times on TV doing the big festivals. But I’ve never seen them live myself.

I was ready for this. I wasn’t able to get to any festivals this year, so this was as close as I was going to get. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been at a BIG GIG, the kind where all your music-loving friends are also going and half of Scotland seems to be there too. It was a fun atmosphere, despite the rain and ever-increasing mud. We got chatting to the folk beside us and had a wee laugh in between bands. The last 15 minutes waiting for the Foos to come on were almost unbearable. We’d been there for 6 hours already, people were getting drunk and rowdy. Security had to haul at least 2 people over the barriers and escort them out. I lost Phil at one point and wondered if she’d ever make her way back, such was the determination of the people behind not to let anyone push forward. I was glad of my 2nd class barrier spot, even if it meant forgoing drinks and toilet trips.

They arrived on stage. The crowd went wild. The freakin’ Foo Fighters were (almost) right in front of me. I pinched myself more than once. Here we, here we, here we f***ing go indeed.

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Foooooooos!!!!!

They were amazing. I mean, you know they were.

They started out fairly restrained, but the 2nd song in was played as if it was a grand finale. In fact, if I have one criticism, and I’m reluctant to do this, cos, y’know, it’s the Foo Fighters, but there was a lot of “showboating” as Phil put it. That in itself didn’t bother me so much as it did her. First time seeing them live, I want to see them do all they can do. But….as I said earlier, I’ve seen a lot of their sets before on tv etc. I knew what to expect. It was….a bit too scripted? Over choreographed? I know they put on A SHOW, that they plan things meticulously, but I would have preferred the showboating/”improvising” to be properly improvised. A response to the mood, the crowd, their feelings on that particular night. None of it seemed spontaneous, and that, for me, left it lacking honesty and heart. It was technically impressive and I did enjoy watching it, but I couldn’t help but feel I was watching a pre-fabricated performance.

Taylor Hawkins (more on him later) rose above the stage on some sort of hydraulic platform for 2 songs, one which featured his extended drum solo, the other on which he sings lead. I felt (oh my, here I go, criticising the Foo Fighters again…) that this happened way too early in the set. It was dramatic and incredible and awe-inspiring but we were all just getting warmed up at that point, it seemed like another faux finale.

Hawkins being levitated

But, on the whole I had a thoroughly good time. I can forgive them the scripts and the showboating, it didn’t detract from the overall experience too much.

They played a good mix of songs, some I knew better than others. It made me realise that I know very few of the lyrics to any of the songs, but I somehow know the shape, feel and flow of them. I couldn’t tell you hardly any of the song names, but I sure know when they get louder, quieter and when the drums kick in.

The drums.

Yeah, so, I’m a drummer. Anyone learning the drums learns Nirvana songs. They are simple but clever and make you look cool. Fact. Dave Grohl is a legend. Anyone who has the guts to join Dave Grohl as his drummer is already an impressive character, but when they turn out to be Taylor Hawkins, they are also a legend. I saw 2 legends, 2 of my favourite drummers on stage and I couldn’t contain myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if my eyes turned into actual emoji-style hearts or stars. They definitely had tears in them more than once, before I composed myself. Tears blurred the view, and I had waited long and hard for that view.

Two. Utter. Legends.

Dave took over drums (waaah!) while Taylor took his turn as frontman and sang a cover of Queen’s Under Pressure. (The amazing Discovery Music page has a video here) I knew this might happen, they do it a lot, but still. I did turn to Phil and everyone in the vicinity and yell, “Dave Grohl is playing the drums and Taylor is singing and he’s AWESOME!!” And I hadn’t even had a drink. But he is awesome. I’ve watched so many videos of him and interviews etc and he has a great approach and philosophy towards drumming. He does this sort of chicken-wing flap of his elbows when he does a snare/hi-hat strike, and the first time I noticed him doing it I squealed and pinched myself yet again, yes it was really him, in the flesh, right there in front of me in Bellahouston Park!!!

Taylor Hawkins. It’s really him!

They did an AC/DC cover as well, ostensibly as tribute to that band’s Scottish roots, I’m not sure if they play it a lot or we were actually treated to a variation in the tour set.

So they played most of the hits, we sang and we danced and we waved our arms in the air. They played some less well known songs that the super-fans belted out while the rest of us just enjoyed the spectacle. There’s not much that beats the collective experience of live music. 35,000 people in a muddy park in Glasgow having the time of their lives. The Foos played solid for pretty much two and a half hours, and I could have easily stood another hour. Or two. I remembered why I loved them and why sometimes, loud rock music is just what I need. I still love exploring new genres like jazz, I will spend ages listening to folky stuff, I will wholeheartedly support women artists as much as I can, but sometimes my very female-dominated existence just needs to see a bunch of blokes get sweaty on stage making an absolute racket. They are an incredible band, not a hint of staleness or weariness after 25 years on the go. I always knew they were special, but seeing them live has given me a new-found respect and admiration for them and I’ll definitely be digging into their back-catalogue again to acquaint myself with those hidden gems.

The weather was better than forecast, although the park did turn into a total mud bath. We alternated between raincoats and sunglasses more times than I can remember, risking sunburn and trenchfoot simultaneously.

Rainy times….
…and sunny times

There were shoes abandoned in the mud and I came close to losing a welly a few times. But it was all good fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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Grohl drumming. Hawkins singing. Not pictured – me exploding

Kamasi Washington, Barrowlands, 22nd May 2019

When I started getting into jazz, Kamasi Washington was one of the first artists that I was drawn to.  I didn’t really know much about the genre (still learning so much all the time) and tended to favour the older, “classic” jazz, struggling to get to grips with some of the newer or fusion-type styles.  But Kamasi always struck me as an artist that was more accessible but also exciting and saying something with the music, real musical storytelling.

I missed a tour a year or so ago, but luckily they came round again.  Another artist that I had come across and been impressed by, Oscar Jerome, was announced as one of the supports, so it was looking like a very enticing line-up.

Never one to sail into gigs care-free, my younger daughter developed chicken pox the day of the concert, but luckily she was still able to go to her dad’s for the evening.  By the time I got there, I had already missed most of Oscar Jerome’s set, but I saw 2 or 3 songs and he confirmed himself as a performer to watch out for.  He was backed by a strong band, who lent more of a full-on jazz vibe to his songs than I had heard on record/radio.

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Oscar Jerome & band

I hadn’t heard of the 2nd support – Yussef Deyes, but it turns out I have a bunch of songs saved in my “discovering jazz” playlist from his collab project, Yussef Kamaal.  Although he was listed as a solo name, he introduced his outfit to the audience as the “Yousef Dayes Trio”.  Yussef himself was the band leader and drummer, the others in the trio were a bassist and guy on keys.  I really liked them.  Funky, with a lot of African rhythm influences, they got the growing crowd moving and dancing.

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Yussef Deyes & band

And well, Kamasi Washington.  I mean, it was incredible.  I knew it would be a good gig, but they were out of this world.  I haven’t really had time to process the whole night, but even if I did, I’m not sure I have the vocabulary yet to properly describe what I saw.  Some highlights:

  •  2 drummers!! And yes, they had a “drum-off” at one point although it was described as having a conversation, which I guess is more accurate. 
  • The solos/featured players throughout were undoubtedly brilliant and the talent on the stage was immense, at times I’m sure I was open-mouthed, but when they all came together that was when I felt the shivers right in my gut.
  • Kamasi himself was a gracious band leader, an inspiring soloist, a powerful but serene presence on stage and occasional inspiring orator.

It still blows my mind that I have got to this point.  Seeing one of the world’s most thrilling and innovative jazz musicians on stage in Glasgow, at the Barras no less, and that feeling so right.  Someone last week compared sign language interpreting (I’m a trainee interpreter) to jazz – they meant it in a negative way – but to me that was spot on.  Jazz is a language and a culture that I was unfamiliar with and until a few years ago had no interest in.  Now it has opened me up to new experiences, new ways of thinking and understanding music, art, life.  Kamasi Washington is someone who has helped guide me through this journey and it was incredible to witness his talent, his stories and his vision on that stage.

20190522_212117Kamasi Washington and band

I think the last time he toured, Kamasi and his band played the QM.  This gig being at the Barras seems to be evidence of this new jazz revival that I keep hearing about.  Not only was it almost a sell-out, it was full of a very enthusiastic audience who seemed to be genuinely engaged fans, not just folk casually dropping in, or being dragged by a friend or partner.

I was just about congratulating myself on not getting overly emotional like I did at a previous jazz concert when it all came to an end, no encore, the various band members were acknowledged, he humbly gave his own name to finish and I very nearly lost it.

What a night, what an experience, what a musician.

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Kamasi Washington and more band

PAWS, CCA Glasgow, 10th May 2019

Let’s start by saying that if you haven’t heard of PAWS then you most certainly should check them out, and if you haven’t listened to their new album, “Your Church on My Bonfire” then you should get on that straight away as well, ideally throwing them some pennies for the vinyl or at least the download in the process.  Remember – Spotify etc pay artists next to nothing and small bands need our support.

Ok, party political broadcast for the Support Independent Artists party over.

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Paws are a band that I came across by accident but am extremely glad I did, because they have become one of my favourite bands ever.  It doesn’t seem that long since their last album “No Grace” was released (it was 2016 so I guess quite long) but I was very excited to hear that they had a new record in the pipeline this year.  The early singles from the record were previewed and I loved them from the second I heard them.  There are certain bands that just seem to be on the same musical wavelength as you and their music fits in your ears and your soul like it was always meant to be.  Yes, some music is challenging or takes multiple listens to “get” and that is good too (see my adventures in jazz for example) but when I listened to this record I just thought, “yeah, of course”.  It is somehow what I expected without being predictable or derivative.  As if the music had been in our souls all along and it just took this band at this moment to draw it out and give it life and form.

So of course I bought a ticket to the album launch gig in Glasgow and was excited to see Phillip from the band say that they were planning on playing every song from the album for us.

As I had to set a 5.30am alarm the next morning to catch a very early train down to Preston, I decided to drive into town to ensure a quick getaway back home after the gig.  There was an after-party planned but sadly I would have to give that a miss.  On the way in, the heavens opened, producing paddling-pool level surface water on the motorway.  I feared for my life at several points as cars veered about and lorries threw up tsunami sprays.  On arriving in Glasgow City Centre the rain was at deluge levels.  I waited in my car for 10 minutes, but, showing no signs of abating, I made a dash the few blocks to the venue.

Despite my dashing, I arrived utterly soaked. My feet were squelching, my trousers dripping and my hoodie jacket soaked through. I had hoped to time my arrival to just catch the start of PAWS set, hoping for a 8.30-9.00pm start and be done by 10pm.  Nope. There were 2 support bands, I had missed 1, the other was half an hour away with PAWS not due on until 10pm.  But my super early alarm……!

Fiskur were the 2nd support.  I liked them but wasn’t sure they were the right fit for this occasion.  Phillip from Paws later told us that both the support bands were friends of his, so I guess it was good for him to have all his pals around supporting his album launch, but I would have preferred a band with a bit more…..oomph? I did like them, but they put me in mind of the kind of band you come across late afternoon at a festival, when you want to have a bit of time chilling, sit down, drink or lunch in hand and listen to a band that don’t look like much but actually surprise you and have some decent songs and you leave quite impressed.  They did have some decent songs, albeit a bit sedate for me.  Ross Clark is undoubtedly a good singer and I did like the rhythms played by the drummer, who I now read was/is in Washington Irvine who I saw years ago and really liked.  It was also a bit distracting having Andy from Frightened Rabbit on the stage, especially given the date.  I dunno, maybe I am being a bit too harsh.  My friend liked them and there were plenty people standing in front of me who were really into them so maybe it was a better fit than I realised.

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Fiskur

I’m not taken with the CCA as a venue.  I know that Glasgow is sorely missing the sadly fire-destroyed ABC, but the hall in the CCA feels weird for a gig like Paws.  It’s very large and airy which is nice in some respects, but a high ceiling without an Oran Mor mural or a Barras glitterball just feels sterile.  There isn’t any decent gig lighting, the room overall was too bright and there was a lot of light and noise coming from a door just to the left of the stage.  It looked more like a high school gym-come-assembly hall, complete with black cloth backdrop and temporary stage.

Anyway, after catching up with my friend about gigs past and planned, it was PAWS time.

They kept to their word and played every song from the new album, starting the set with the first track What We Want and ending on the epic Not Goodbye (See You Later)    complete with spoken word performance.

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PAWS + Poetry

Interspersed between the new songs were some oldies as well.  The band have added a 4th member, a guitarist whose name I didn’t catch but they described him as “a proper musician”.  He added layers of electric guitar as well as playing acoustic on some songs which worked very well.  The songs on this album are fuller in soundscape than previous so it was great to get the full effect live.  There were some technical problems during their set, but they took them in good humour and Phillip chatted easily with the crowd throughout, before on one occasion realising that he was to blame for the feedback on his guitar.

I’ve only ever seen PAWS play small, cramped shows where all members were giving high-octane, frenetic performances, so seeing them play the more acoustic numbers was interesting.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Philip show the kind of vulnerability he did when playing the slower, more intimate songs.  Barring some people talking at the back, who thankfully realised the situation and ceased their yabbering, the whole auditorium was listening with awed respect.

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Phillip Taylor of PAWS

Just when I was thinking that his performance was overall more confident, the openness and rawness of the quieter songs included, Phillip shared with the audience his fears that no-one would show up to the gig or buy his record.  He asked if anyone had listened to it.  Everyone around me was singing along, so yes, Phillip, we have devoured it, it’s brilliant. (See above for plea to BUY it not just stream it, if you can)  There was a confidence in the performance, though, perhaps more of a feeling of being at ease with the material and the live arrangements, it looked like they were all very comfortable with the songs and were relieved to finally give them a public airing.

If the hall was like a high school gymnasium, then Josh was like an unruly student who had been fidgeting once too often in class and sent to burn off some energy on the drums, defying his teachers’ expectations and turning out to be a percussion playing genius.  Adding to the illusion in a PE-style plain white t-shirt, he thrashed and bashed, head and body quivering as if in religious fervour. Whatever supernatural being is possessing him when he plays, is my new deity and we should all pray to it.

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Josh Swinney of PAWS

I sincerely hope that this album gets PAWS the recognition and appreciation that they deserve, I look forward to a full tour coming hopefully soon because those songs belong in packed rooms with everyone singing along loudly and sharing in the special experience that is PAWS live.

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PAWS