Foals, Glasgow SSE Hydro, 12th February 2016

Yup, a bit late with this. Blame the 2 year old who never sleeps.

Anyway, I went to see Foals a couple of weeks ago. I used to not like Foals. They were one of those bands that really irritated me, for no particular reason. It was something to do with the way they always seemed to by much more into their music and their performance than anyone else in the room. So I was aware of them, but kind of in the background. But recently I would be listening to the radio (Radio 1 in the car, 6Music at home and at work) and I would hear a song, like it, find out who it was, and discover it was Foals.  This happened quite a few times, for quite a few different songs. Radio 1 and 6 Music seemed to play different songs. After I while I couldn’t deny it any longer, I liked Foals. Well new Foals. Well new Foals on record. Then I found they were coming to the Hydro. I held off for a bit, but after the radio thing happened a few more times I looked into tickets.  Standing was quite pricey (compared to my normal gig ticket expense) but seating was reasonable.  I had a seat for Twin Atlantic and had had a blast, and wasn’t fussed about getting in amongst it with Foals so I went for a seated ticket.

Now the Hydro isn’t my favourite venue and I was guaranteed my seat so I wasn’t bothered about getting there early.  The support was from Everything Everything, who I kind of recognised from the radio but wouldn’t have been able to tell you much about them.  I timed it to arrive just when they were due to go on. I braced myself for the soulless corporate experience that is the Hydro and gritted my teeth as I worked my way past groups of people who clearly weren’t used to going to gigs (ugh, large events bring out the novices and excitables). That being said, it was quite fun to people-watch on the train and guess who else was going to the gig. Droves of young men with THE HAIR and THE JACKET and usually THE BEARD. And the side-kick girlfriend. I sported none of these.

The inside was slow to fill up, but most people were milling about at the bar or outside generally. Everything Everything were not at all how I imagined.  Maybe I just wasn’t in gig mode yet, maybe it was cos the crowd were indifferent, maybe it was something else, but I don’t think they were very good. I recognised a lot of their songs, and I actually liked a lot of their songs, I think I’ve watched them on festival coverage etc. I don’t like writing negative things – I’ve said often enough I don’t write reviews, just about my experiences of gigs etc, but they sounded like a bad cover band or karaoke version of themselves. I was disappointed but they weren’t the main event so not to worry. Hopefully it was just an off day for them.

So then came the mandated 30 minute break. At the Hydro you get a schedule! Emailed to you in advance! I know that small venues have schedules, but in my experience they tend to be very loosely interpreted by all concerned, and rarely given to punters.  Not at the Hydro.  They have a designated 30 minute break between support and main act, and you get a 5 minute warning to take your seats! I felt like I was at the theatre or the opera.

The floor filled up but there were a fair number of seats near me still empty and whole sections of seating not used.


So Foals came on in a wall of noise.  I was surprised at how many songs I recognised, based only on casual radio listening and a bit of Spotify preparation.  It was strange not knowing which songs were fans favourites or had a particular meaning, the audience reaction to a few intro notes took me by surprise sometimes, but I enjoyed the set and there was mercifully little annoying smuggness in the performance. There was a few instances of pointless guitar wheedling that went on a bit too long but that’s an outsiders view, proper fans seemed to like it.


I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t completely won over like I was with Twin Atlantic. Maybe because it was a mellower kind of rock, maybe I am still holding on to that feeling that they are slightly annoying. It was good, but I don’t think I’d rush back to see them. Especially at a large venue. I bet it was more exciting seeing them on the way up, playing smaller venues. I can see they’d be good at a festival (I think they’re headlining somewhere this summer? Reading / Leeds?) I did have a good time, maybe I’m being unfair and comparing them too much.


It was cool to leave the Hydro and have that buzz of a large crowd in high spirits having enjoyed a collective experience.  Although I did have to leg it to the station to make sure I made my train home.

Next stop – Mystery Jets!

Twin Atlantic, The Hydro, Glasgow, 9th May 2015

A few years ago I came across a wee band from near Glasgow called Twin Atlantic.  They were among a new wave of young Scottish bands that were emerging at the time – Admiral Fallow, The Twighlight Sad etc. There was even a documentary about a group of Scottish artists trying to “make it” at South by South West in 2011.  It was an interesting time in Scottish music, following the rise of Frightened Rabbit. I liked what they were all doing but as is the case with this kind of thing they all sounded kinda the same and there was nothing that stood out to make me want to pursue any of them much further. I thought Twin Atlantic were the best of the bunch and listened to them a fair amount but never got round to seeing them live.

Fast forward 3 years or so and they are all over the radio with “Heart and Soul”. Hey, I remember them! I resolve to look them up properly but never really do.  They release “Brothers and Sisters” and it is stuck in my head for literally a month.  I find them on Facebook, Twitter, etc and watch the videos for “Oceans” and “Hold On” and realise that this wee band have come quite far in those few years.  They announce a tour. Right, I should go and see them.  At the Hydro? What? The Hydro is huge! Rod Stewart plays there. I felt nervous for them. They’ll never fill that! The tickets went on sale on Christmas Eve.  By the time I get through the standing area has sold out. Again, What? Ok, what do I do? Sod it, I’ll buy a seated ticket. Can’t believe this is even happening so don’t dwell on it too much.

May comes round and I head off to the Hydro.  I have only ever been there once before, for the rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games.  Part of the reason I bought a ticket was because I wanted to see what it was like as a music venue.

It is exactly like the Commonwealth Games.  Security everywhere. Corporate. Stupidly expensive food and drink.  Can’t find the ladies toilets anywhere but pass 3 lots of gents’. More security. Can’t find my seat even though I go in the allocated Section L. Fuck this, I want to be back in a dingy club seeing a band that no-one has ever heard of with like-minded people. Instead I am surrounded by teenage girls, beards, people who don’t normally go to gigs and more teenage girls.  The toilets (when I eventually find them) are full of girls in party dresses with massive hair doing their make-up. I’m sorry, am I in the wrong place, isn’t this a ROCK CONCERT?

I find my seat. This is bloody weird. I expect to see gymnasts coming in, not bands. It is so far removed from any gig I have ever been to.  I have only been to 2 big concerts before – REM which was in marquee in Glasgow Green cos they had double booked the SECC (yeah) and U2 which was hastily re-arranged due to Bono’s father’s death and was in a small hall in the SECC. So no arenas. I couldn’t compute.


The place was, however, packed. I don’t know if it was a sell out but it must certainly have been close.

There were 2 support acts – Lonely The Brave and Eliza and the Bear. Both were good, but to be honest my head still wasn’t in the right place to enjoy them properly.

Bang on schedule at 9.15pm the lights dimmed and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” came over the PA. After a mass audience sing-along, that music from 2001 A Space Odyssey came on. I was filled with trepidation. They’ve gotten too big and are going to be all full of themselves. I’ve made a terrible mistake.


I was wrong.  They were appreciative, humble, excited and just happy to be there. And most importantly they rocked.  They abso-fucking-lutely rocked.  I wasn’t familiar with all the songs but I was pleased to hear plenty that I remembered from when I first came across them years ago, in fact those songs benefited from the years of experience and were much more polished and better arranged.  And of course all the ones that are now familiar from the radio. It finally dawned on me just how big a deal Twin Atlantic had become.


The whole floor was jumping. Not just the usual curve of enthusiasts at the front, the WHOLE floor. It was like a sea of pink anemones as the whole of Glasgow raised their arms and sang along with gusto. I felt a pang of regret that I wasn’t down on the floor. Then some idots started charging round and chucking suspiciously full beer cups around and I was glad of my old lady seat.

There was a string quartet, a solo cellist and lead singer Sam had the whole place captive for a few slower ballads.


Sam said he was nervous and emotional, but it didn’t affect his voice, which was strong and clear throughout.  I was impressed by Craig on drums, he even got a drum solo at the start of the encore.

It is testament to the band that they turned the venue from a soulless corporate arena into what felt like Glasgow’s biggest house party.  The atmosphere was one of pure joy and celebration, as they welcomed the band home.  There were cannons down the front that fired out glitter and streamers, and at the end giant balloons were released from the ceiling.

20150509_230004 They had completely turned me from a grumpy sceptic to a full-on dancing, cheering and singing fan.  I was so lost in the music and party atmosphere that when Sam said the name of their band I was brought back to reality. Yes, that is Twin Atlantic up there, that wee band from a few years ago. I still couldn’t believe it.

Sam himself admitted they weren’t a great band, just a lucky one, but they hit the spot with me becuase this is just my kind of music. Proper rock music but not too rock that it veers into shouty screamy metal.  Kind of indie, but not taking itself too seriously. Just lots of guitars, drums and good tunes. What more can you ask for?

Also, it is so nice to be able to sing along in my own accent! Well not quite, it’s a lot more Glaswegian than I am, but there’s something very comforting about being able to sing “more” as “mo-ar” rather than “moh” and “fear” as “fee-ur” rather then “fee-ah”. Love it!

They were due to finish at 10.30pm but there was no stopping this party, it must have been around 11pm by the time they finished, giving us almost 2 hours of non-stop entertainment.

I left with the biggest grin on my face, glad that this wee band had made it so far and done themselves so proud, rocking the roof off the massive Hydro.