My 2009 concert-going year started off with a wallop. No whimpering, ninny band for me. It's full on Glasvegas glory, gang. It's only seven days into the year and I have a great consideration for Top 5 gig of the year already. I think I'm going to like 2009. Thanks, Obama!
Joking aside, the four Scots return to the U.S. after making a big statement last October by opening for Echo & The Bunnymen at Radio City Music Hall. The buzz machine was already in full swing when they booked Bowery. Next thing you know, they are already adding larger venues and playing Letterman.
It's all warranted. They are an amazing live act. I was satisfied with their debut album and the band itself. Now, I see that they are dynamic on stage, from their waves of sound echoing from the speakers to the airport runway flood lights. They played about 40 minutes and I loved every moment of it, even the awkward five-minute beginning where nothing was happening but roadies running around in a panic.
It boils down to that sweeping, over-the-top, heart-on-your-sleeve rock sound that hits you like a sledgehammer on your soul. It draws it's energy from the James Dean legend, early rock 'n' roll and the working class life of Scotland. Every song has passion at its center and nothing is done delicately. Heck, they're Scottish, do it big or go home. Like the album, the gig started off with the slow building epic, "Flowers And Football Tops" and ended with "Daddy's Gone," a true crowd pleaser that had the audience taking over the chorus. Even a simple song like "Ice Cream Van" takes on some a certain grandeur live. I'm a fan of "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry" where the lyrics just seem to take on a life of its own.
With one song, I can see the band dynamic. Lead singer James Allan is the strong, sensitive type. He barely speaks between sets, but you can tell he loves performing and playing for a crowd. The guitarists, Rab and Paul, are the guys who get into the show, knocking around on stage and even sneaking smooches to throw each other off. Their drummer Caroline is subject to standing in the back. Somebody give that girl a chair.
I just love this band. They have a sound that recalls bands way past (Del Shannon, Sangri-Las) and recent past (My Bloody Valentine, The Raveonettes) and a recognizable look with a slight pompadour, black jeans and leather jackets. It's not a surprise that they've become so popular on both sides of the pond.
As a side note, if you see them live, bring sunglasses. I'm still seeing spots and I might have a sunburn from the flood lights. It's all good because that light show added a great dramatic effect.