A gig! A weird, emotional, awesome gig.

We Are Scientists, St Luke’s Glasgow, 1st December 2021

I went to a gig! An actual real life, in-person, proper gig! I cried a bit, took stock and had some self-realisations and saw things through new eyes. It was quite an evening.

This was my first gig since I saw Editors in March 2020 (yep, just squeezed one in there before it all went down!) First post-covid, wait, now there’s Omicron, first post-lockdown hmm let’s not be too hasty….first for a long time! My first gig should really have been Self Esteem aka Rebecca Taylor, ex Slow Club. I had a ticket but somehow hadn’t put it in my diary, so the gig came and went without me. I was disappointed, by all accounts she’s been storming this tour and puts on a great show, but was still covid-wary so thought maybe it was for the best. Then the date for We Are Scientists drew nearer and nearer. I’m still super covid-wary, I’ve been doing indoor stuff only when strictly necessary for work, I went to a restaurant for the first time just last week and we all had an LFT pact prior to meeting up. But it’s We Are Scientists!!! I don’t need to tell you how much I love this band. If I do, just search for previous posts and you’ll quickly get the idea. Even still, I swithered up to the last minute then decided to go for it, thinking I would most definitely regret it if I didn’t.

St Luke’s is a beautiful venue, a converted old church. The last time I was there was a very different affair, an all-seated show featuring Nerija as part of the Glasgow Jazz Festival. Unfortunately this time I arrived too late to catch all of support band Coach Party, I only heard their last couple of songs but they were really good and worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them. Once in, I initially lingered near the back thinking I would hang there, near the well ventilated door with the other masked people. I was there solo due to my usual gig buddies having other commitments or being not quite ready to delve back into gigs yet, so I felt a bit awkward at the back on my own. Then the Tall People made an appearance and I remembered why I usually go down the front. I didn’t want to spend my first gig in almost 2 years looking at the back of people’s heads. Or shoulders to be more accurate. I carefully crept forward wondering how far I would go, loitering here and there until a spot opened up on the barrier and I unashamedly grabbed it. Oh well, back in familiar territory!

I got speaking to 2 girls next to me, who were at their very first We Are Scientists gig. They were only 18 years old and had recently discovered the band. I thought that was incredible and was delighted for them. They thought it was incredible that I’d seen WAS 15 times over 10 years. (edit – it’s actually more like 18 times over 13 years. Yikes.) We agreed that new album Huffy is one of their best and they couldn’t wait to hear the songs. I promised them they’d sound even better live.

It was weird being in among a crowd of people again. My natural unsociability plus covid has meant that I’ve been even more solitary than usual of late, apart from my 2 kids. Sometimes that’s an active preference that I’m fine with, but sometimes I realise that it’s doing me more harm than good. I wrote a bit about this last year. Even those of us who aren’t gregarious or touchy-feely need some human contact. I hate crowds in any other place but am quite happy being squished on 3 sides by fellow gig-goers. It was nice to hear the chatter all around me of what gigs people had coming up, how they hated LFTs but would suffer the discomfort if it meant getting out again, how bloody freezing it was and can you believe it’s December already?

When the band came on the roar of the small crowd was better than music to my ears. Until the actual music started of course. They jumped straight into Huffy with “You’ve Lost Your Shit” and the girls I’d been speaking to lost their shit. I loved their reaction and enthusiasm. As the elderly veteran that I am, I forgot what it’s like to be new to the We Are Scientists experience. I’m always asking them to play more new stuff and ditch the older tunes (It’s a Hit can be canned first IMO) although I realise that they are likely wedded to playing Nobody Move and Great Escape at every show for all eternity. After 18 (19?) times I’m ready for the new songs, but seeing these girls utterly ecstatic at hearing the classics for the first time reminded me not to be so selfish and let the crowd enjoy the experience they came for. It was infectious and after scolding myself I sang along with the rest of them. It was enlightening and refreshing to witness the show through their eyes. And of course they agreed with me that the songs sounds even better live.

We got a good sampling of Huffy, some good old classics – Scene should be spared the oldies cull and in fact should be played at every gig – as well as some surprises in the form of KIT and Lousy Reputation. KIT was gorgeous and I’m glad it got an airing. They played Five Leaves and I almost lost it at that point, but managed to hold it together, just. The encore brought us the absolute delight that is Bought Myself a Grave. Honestly, if WAS decide to move entirely to country-rock ballads I’ll be there for it. Chris on vocals was awesome, for some reason Keith was cracking himself up laughing through the backing vocals towards the end, I’ve no idea why but it just made my grin even wider.

The crowd got quite lively as the gig went on, apparently there were shirts being removed behind me but I decided I could do without witnessing that spectacle. I loved how everyone sang along to all the Huffy songs, and my new friends gave it laldy singing the guitar parts too which amused me greatly.

It’s obvious to say that the last almost 2 years have been hard on everyone. We’ve all got our personal troubles and challenges and no-one knows what anyone else is really going through. While the lockdowns and restrictions etc have had their upsides – I’ve had some fantastic quality time with my kids – but I’m a single parent and one of my kids is going through a whole heap of things just now that makes it extra challenging for all 3 of us. Most of my time and energy is spent dealing with that and I’m exhausted and mentally drained all the time. The kids go to their dad’s every 2nd weekend and that used to be my “me” time, well after the housework and my coursework etc etc….but I used to go for cycles, play drums, meet friends, do projects around the house or garden. A few weeks ago I had a “free” weekend and realised that I couldn’t focus on anything, had no interest in anything and was just zoned out and disconnected from everything I used to enjoy doing. I made a decision to try to turn things around before I really spiralled out of control. I made some plans with friends, arranged to borrow a dog for the afternoon to go for a walk and started planning out my time to incorporate actual rests and time to recharge.

I’m not going to get back to my old self overnight, but small steps are important and going to this gig was a pretty massive step. I felt at home, I felt relaxed and for the first time in ages I could switch off from the worry and the to-do list and the frustration and just enjoy myself in the moment. I needed that so badly. And it had to be this band. This band who are so familiar, who always come through, who can make me laugh and cry and want to throw my arms in the air like I’m also 18, not 42. Immediately after the show, the reality of what I’d just experienced hit me. I couldn’t help but get a bit tearful. It’s a good job I was driving home, having to keep a clear head and eyes to focus on the road. If I’d been on the train I’m sure I would have been a blubbering mess.

Before I left I stopped by the merch stand and bought some We Are Scientists socks. Well, obviously I need them to go with my We Are Scientists underpants.

Glasgow Jazz Festival – Nerija, St Lukes, 23rd June 2017

Ok, I know that I will automatically lose 90% of you by the mere mention of the word jazz, but, as the saying now goes – nevertheless, I will persist. I get it.  As I have written about previously, only around a year ago I would have been exactly the same. Yet here I am writing about my first taste of the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Since my jazz awakening, I have been on the lookout for an opportunity to take in some live music.  There are pubs and clubs that run regular jazz nights, but somehow the thought of going along to one of those on my own is more daunting that going to a gig solo, which I do frequently.  It seems Edinburgh is more of a jazz town than Glasgow.  However, I got wind of the Glasgow Jazz Festival, signed up for info, and when the dates and acts were announced I was fortunate to be able to get along on the Friday evening.  Even more fortunate, I found that Nerija were due to play that day.  I had heard some of their work I think on the radio initially, then had come across them by association with other acts I was sampling.  They stood out for me because they are almost always introduced as an “all-female ensemble”. I suppose if this fact is not unique, it is certainly still remarkable. In any case, I decided they would be a perfect first jazz concert so got myself a ticket. It wasn’t even worth asking anyone else to go, having mentioned that I was even listening to jazz I got the very face in return that I used to make, so I left well alone and trotted off on my ownio.

I made the mistake of assuming that it was like a “normal” gig and when the ticket said 7.30pm, the first band would be on no earlier than 8pm and the main act around 9pm. I was wrong.  I got there around 7.45pm and the support were just finishing.  I guess 7.30pm meant 7.30pm. Oh well.  I snuck in and took a seat.  They were called Bitches Brew and were a 2-piece consisting of a double bass player and a percussionist.  (Also all-female).  The double bass picked out a slow, languid, groovy bassline/melody and the percussionist performed with around 8 different drums in front of her, I think 1 from every continent, which she played together, with her hands. I’m not sure, but I think the piece was improvised as well.  It was captivating.  Again, it’s probably the kind of thing that a couple of years ago I would have found curious, but kinda weird.  On Friday, I found it fascinating and compelling.  I was sorry not to have seen more of them.

It was also the first time I had been in St Lukes, which seems to have suddenly emerged as a go-to venue in Glasgow.  Like Oran Mor, it is a converted church, although not much conversion has taken place (perhaps it still functions as a church, I don’t actually know) but it is gorgeous inside.


Nerija came on and launched straight into their first piece.  It was beautiful, powerful and majestic. I was overwhelmed. I actually cried. It was just all too much for me. For a few reasons:

I couldn’t believe that I had actually discovered this complex, raw, but life-affirming genre of music and I was finally seeing live the incredibly passionate and talented people who perform it. I was so thankful that everything eventually came to this point, but also full of regret that it didn’t happen to me sooner.

I had had a ridiculously stressful week at work, and the sheer relief of just sitting back and letting the emotion of the music wash over me released something that couldn’t be contained.

I was alone. At that point I just needed someone to share this with, but there was no-one.  I don’t mean a life-partner necessarily, just friend/acquaintance, anyone.  I think I know literally 2 people who are into jazz – one of them lives in another city, 1 lives in another country.  I was busting with all these feelings and responses to the music and being there in that moment and I had to swallow it down and that sucks.

Anyway, I pulled myself together and focussed on enjoying the performance.  Nerija are phenomenal.  They are all incredibly talented musicians, and as each song was introduced we were told which of the band had written it, it seems they are a collective of incredibly talented songwriters too. There were 7 of them, but I understand a couple of the regulars were absent, however the stand-ins fitted in seamlessly.  I don’t want to leave anyone out, as they were all worthy of singling out, but particular mention has to be made firstly (of course!) of the drummer.  Unfortunately, from where I was sitting I couldn’t see her much, but I was mesmerised by her drumming.  I have said before how jazz drumming is just pure art, well seeing/hearing it for the first time in a live setting was as if all drumming I had seen and heard up until now was done by chimps holding mallets with oven gloves.  Just. Pure. Art.  Also, as each of the instrumentalists took a turn at solos etc, the others got a rest.  Not so the drummer, she kept going through every piece with intricate rhythms and inventive use of the various parts of the kit.


The trombone player deserves special mention for seemingly impossibly quick manoeuvring on her solos. (Yes, I am giving plaudits for jazz trombone solos, I am a new person!) I was most taken, however, by the tenor saxophonist. I have read/heard about people becoming one with their instrument, but I have never seen it in the flesh before.  She became the sax and the sax became her. She played with such spirit, the notes spewing out of her, brewing deep inside then flowing out through the medium of her instrument in waves of soaring melodies contrasted with dark, punchy, jagged bursts.  I wanted to be up, dancing, moving, cheering and clapping but I was constrained to my chair, only able to nod along.  I wanted to turn to someone and yell “this is fecking amazing!!” but I maintained composure.


It was a shame that the venue didn’t fill up. Most people took the cabaret style tables at the edges of the room, rather than the rows in the middle, giving the impression that there were fewer people there.  I fully realise that I am approaching this with the enthusiasm of a new convert, but it’s a shame that Glasgow, a city priding itself in its musical heritage and vibrancy can’t muster the support for this kind of concert.

Anyway, I for one thoroughly enjoyed the performance and will be looking to attend more similar events as often as I can.  If Nerija or any other jazz ensembles are coming to a town near you, give them a try, you might just enjoy it!