Sunday, 31 August 2008

Glasvegas & The Displacements @ The Sugarmill, Hanley. August 28th.

Review by Charlotte Lunt

Photo by Simon Bamford

The not-often-seen ticket touts outside the ‘mill bore sure testament to the anticipation surrounding tonight’s gig. The increased playing and plugging that Glasvegas have received from the national media has certainly done its job alongside the overt backing of established artists such as Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch and music industry mogul Alan McGee.

The Displacements provided the support for the evening and bounded onto the stage with more energy and a more honed performance then their last visit here just 5 weeks ago. Being well received by the audience and clearly with more than a few fans in the crowd, frontman Andy Stone and bassist Nick Eversfield launched into their trademark jangly indie pop songs with enthusiasm. The group delivered a nonstop set of songs including ‘Frontline hearts’ and ‘Bruises’; pausing only to introduce their songs and throwing in a couple of dedications. With the audience numbers increasing steadily throughout their set, there appeared to be a sense of urgency in the band’s performance. Their set finished on a high with ‘Down and Out’, their current single, which saw Andy leave the stage to join the front rows of the audience. The Displacements presented a steady set of simple indie songs, but delivered with the clear belief that they are destined for greater things.

Glasvegas nonchalantly took the to the dry-ice filled stage before hitting the audience with a wall of sound. Beginning with ‘Flowers and Football Tops’, a song about the kidnap and murder of a young football fan, Rab Allan and Paul Donoghue provided frenetic playing to open the show. Singing with his trademark Gaelic brogue, James Allan’s vocals at times have a remarkably violent delivery whilst maintaining a haunting clarity, especially when crooning “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, You make me happy when skies are grey…”

Known for singing about the realities of life growing up in Glasgow, Allan’s lyrics reflect that some of his observations are still seen through the eyes of a child, whilst the magnetic quality of the music adds gravitas to their meaning. The songs are powered forwards by Caroline McKay’s drumming on an incredibly pared down kit which she plays standing up, amidst a barrage of amps gracing the back of the stage.

They soar through songs such as ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ and ‘Polmont on my Mind’ with barely a word to the audience, before the opening refrain of ‘Geraldine’ jolts the crowd; eliciting recognitory cheers. There is an unusual reverence and respect about this evening’s performance; possibly due to the expectation that the audience has; which is shown in the near-silence that returns just before each song kicks in. This is used to great effect before the last highly anticipated song and current single, ‘Daddy’s Gone’ is introduced. Allan steps back from the microphone allowing the audience take over the vocals for choruses, eventually leaving him accompanying them on tambourine, before the full force of the music again kicked in. Ending a short but commanding set, the band left the stage to calls of “we want more”, blowing kisses and with hands on hearts.

With equal measures of praise and associated pressure on their shoulders this will no doubt be a big year for this currently peerless band.

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