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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


PAWS, The Spook School & some drumming adventures too

I first came across PAWS when they were part of the most insane gig I have ever been to.  I couldn’t really make out any of their songs at the time, but I had a quick listen online afterwards and instantly liked what I heard.  Their first album, Cokefloat, put me in mind of Oxford Collapse. I think at the time, I then got distracted remembering how awesome Oxford Collapse had been and went off on a mini-nostalgia trip listening to them and, to be honest, forgot about PAWS. I followed them on Twitter, however, and they seemed like cool, interesting guys. When they announced a new album and a tour including a gig in Stereo, I reckoned it was time to reconnect with them and give them a proper chance.

I listened back to their older stuff and kicked myself for not getting properly into them 2 years ago. They are GOOD. Then I heard the first track of the new album, No Grace and fell in love. They are REALLY GOOD.  Punchy, punky, energetic and danceable.  So I was excited to see them properly.

The day started with some drumming activity.  The place I go for lessons also have a shop, and they were hosting a demo event by Eddy Thrower, drummer with Lower Than Atlantis, among other bands & artists. I had seen him at the Glasgow Drum Show, and had been impressed, so after a fair amount of rushing about, my usual parking-in-Glasgow-City-Centre nightmare and getting rained on, I made it along to see most of his set.


Someone took a video:

Seriously, the guy is so laid back I half expected him to start sipping a cup of tea mid-beat. Check out his cover of Bieber – a lesson for me in fluidity of movement.

Afterwards, he took some questions, then stayed around a bit chatting to everyone.  I spoke to him for a few minutes about learning fundamentals, improvising and how drumming is the best thing ever. “I wish I could play more songs for you but I don’t have any more tracks…I just love playing drums!”


Afterwards, I had my lesson where we worked on some of those fundamentals. I’m sure now, after only a handful of lessons this time round, I’m being pushed beyond anything I learned or was playing back in the day.  The exercises we were working on this week makes previous weeks’ efforts look like baby stuff. I can’t wait to see what I’m doing in a few months time that makes my current paradiddle-diddles around the kit look simple. Love it.


After my lesson and a lot of running around town getting stuff for upcoming holiday and both girls’ birthdays, I headed over to Stereo for the gig. I got there early, as usual, to secure a place near the front.  I really didn’t fancy being in the middle of a (tall) crowd for this one.  I wasn’t that taken with the first support act. It was 1 bloke, who looked like he’d drafted in a reluctant mate to play bass. He spent every song setting up several looped parts as accompaniment. I don’t mind this now and again, it can be really cool if done well and shake things up a bit, but when it happened every single time and took several minutes it got very tedious. Either get some more mates, pre-record it or just play a stripped down version. I was bored.

The second support, on the other hand, were amazing.  The Spook School are a 4-piece of (mostly) young people who all took turns to lead and sing on songs.  They have a strong theme of gender identity running through their music.  At times the lyrics were a bit obvious and simplistic, but I’ll forgive them because they put their all into it, they played really tightly and brought a real spirit of optimism and positivity to a Glasgow that was still mostly reeling from recent political events.

The Spook School

A quick stage turnaround and PAWS came on. They promised to try to cram as many songs into the hour as possible, and they were true to their word. Minimal chat, energy levels high, mood elevated and song after song from all albums, old and new. Having listened to them some more, and armed with earplugs this time, I was able to actually appreciate the songs more than previously.  Although I was regretting even more not listening to them properly these past 2 years, as I wasn’t able to sing along to many of the songs.  Even though I recognised them I don’t have the lyrics pinned down yet. When the crowd participation sing-alongs occurred I just had to grin and dance and enjoy the band soaking up the adoration of the audience and revelling in the moment.


Towards the end, the crowd got predictably rowdy, and at one point I was thrown forward, knocking a monitor towards singer Philip. After the song he reminded everyone that if they wanted to jump around and go crazy, that was fine, but they should also look out for each other.  Later, a mini-stage invasion occurred and once again, after the invaders were ushered off, he asked everyone not to crowd-surf in case someone got hurt.  They might have been rocking their socks off, but they still wanted to make sure everyone, not just the crazy ones, was having a good time.

I wondered why these guys aren’t a huge band. They seemed so chuffed to be headlining Stereo, but Stereo is a pretty small venue. They are so good, they have interesting lyrics, complicated rhythms and manage to convey emotion and feeling into rock/punk/whatever music that has elements that are thoughtful and considered on record but can be ramped up and bring the roof down when played live. They give me that conflicted feeling – they deserve to be huge, but I’m also glad I get to see them up close in a small, sweaty club.

In their usual no-nonsense approach to life, they didn’t bother with the ritual of going off stage and back on for an encore, they played straight through, finished on a high and left.  We were all pumped, sweaty and in my case bruised. But it was awesome.

PAWS givin’ it laldy

I stopped by the merch stand, picked up a t-shirt and headed outside. I had that disconcerting feeling of coming out of a gig not much past 10pm in June, and it still being light outside. I felt energised and wanted to go on and do something else, but I had attended the gig on my own so was kinda stuck. I hung around for a bit in case I recognised anyone or there was a general sense of going on somewhere after, but the crowd dispersed, there was no sign of the band so I headed home. I’m mostly ok with going to gigs on my own, but sometimes it actually sucks. Anyway, half an hour later I was in my house having tea and toast. I’m so rock n roll it hurts.