THE ZOMBIES
ABC1, Glasgow, April 21 * * * *

Old and young fans alike happily danced and bobbed along tonight as 60s survivors The Zombies rolled back the years with their last performance of seminal album Odessey & Oracle on Scottish soil.
Before the main event, the five-piece served up an entertaining set of odds and sods from their debut LP and various solo and side projects but it was O&O the crowd really wanted and after a thirty minute interval that was exactly what we got.
Joined by a selection of helping hands to add, as head Zombie Rod Argent put it, “authenticity”, the four surviving members and guitarist Keith Airy were on good form from opener Call Of Cell 44 to final offering Summertime.
Of course it was always going to fall to track twelve of Odessey, Time Of The Season, to provoke the biggest reaction from what was a devoted audience. Managing to top it could have proved tricky but with debut single She’s Not There they more than pulled it off. By the end they thoroughly deserved the extended ovation that rang out as the five took their final collective bow.

THE CINEMATICS
King Tut’s, Glasgow, April 20 * *

Despite a couple of catchy singles, a handful of high-profile support slots and numerous headline tours, Glasgow-based outfit The Cinematics made only limited progress with 2007’s debut album A Strange Education. Its follow-up should appear sometime this year but in the meantime the quartet is busying itself with a UK tour to promote new single Love and Terror.
Tonight was a chance for the four-piece to try out some new material, but with Tut’s barely a third full there was a real lack of atmosphere for the band’s arrival. Sadly a collection of fairly unremarkable songs did little to alleviate the problem.
Distinguishing between the old and new tracks was nigh on impossible. The Cinematic formula hasn’t changed even if singer/guitarist Scott Rinning’s delivery has. Throughout he went through the frontman motions but rather than feeling spontaneous they came across as overly dramatic and forced.
Even their most successful single to date, Break, did little to rouse a crowd who seemed distinctly underhwelmed. The end result was a set that lacked new ideas and one which limped along in fairly uninspired fashion.

THE VIRGINS
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, April 17 * * * *

New Yorkers The Virgins have the kind of back-story that PRs and certain music journalists love. Fronted by creative driving force and founding member Donald Cumming, a one-time male model who at the age of 16 was already well established on Manhattan’s cooler than cool club scene, the band was barely a band when Atlantic Records came knocking. Soon after, and with the US press on the lookout for a neat media-friendly label, The Virgins found themselves daubed the ‘new Strokes’.
Whether such an accolade will help or hinder the band remains to be seen, tonight they certainly didn’t have any problems making their first Scottish headlining appearance a success with what was an easy-on-the-ear set of funk-infused garage rock.
Undoubtedly there were shades of The Strokes on Radio Christiane but beyond that other influences took over – The Stones on the rockier One Week Of Danger and Blondie on Hey Hey Girls being the most notable.
Carrying the band through the less engaging tracks was Cumming’s natural delivery and the understated cool of his presence. Effortless yet passionate his distinctive vocal and seemingly heartfelt utterances bore out his contention that “we’re all friends here”, even if it was for only 45 minutes.

THE BIG PINK
King Tut’s, Glasgow, April 16 * * *

They may take their name from The Band’s seminal album Music From Big Pink but that’s where the connection with Bob Dylan’s one-time backing band ends. The ‘Pink’ in their name refers to the type of noise duo Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze aim to create, but given the often impenetrable nature of much of tonight’s set, ‘White’ might have been a more appropriate choice of colour.
Kicking off twenty-minutes earlier than billed, the band – rounded out to a five-piece – took to the Tut’s stage, but rather than blow the crowd away with their shoe-gazing walls of noise their eight-song set felt flat and uninspired.
Doom Generation and Crystal Visions epitomised the duo’s predilection for creating underwhelming soundscapes – plateaus of guitar and synth-generated noise lurked aimlessly and without the kind of crescendo-ing peaks you’d expect from a band influenced by My Bloody Valentine.
New single Velvet easily stood out due to a more immediate melody but with much of what went before big on ideas but short on substance, it was a night less about shoe-gazing and more about clock-watching.

BRAKES
King Tut’s, Glasgow, April 19 * * * *

Music needs more bands like Brighton-based outfit Brakes. Led by Eamon Hamilton, the kind of frontman who wears his eccentricities on his sleeve, the quartet returned to the studio last year to record a follow-up to 2006’s The Beatific Visions.
Released on Monday, reviews have been glowing for new album Touchdown, but then positive press has always had a way of finding the quartet, whether it translates into record sales however, is another matter altogether. Tonight they returned to King Tut’s to put in one of the most entertaining sets the St Vincent Street venue has seen this year
Clocking in at less than ten seconds, songs like Comma Comma Comma Full Stop, Consumer Producer A Chicken or An Egg and Cheney beautifully punctuated proceedings. Verging on the gimmicky or gloriously quirky, either way these party pieces do still pack a punch and tonight was no different.
Showing the band’s guitar pop credentials in the best light, new tracks Oh Forever and Don’t Take Me To Space (Man) proved worthy additions to the Brakes arsenal while a frenetic rendition of Jackson rounded off what had been, in the words of Mr Hamilton, “a lush day”.

BAT FOR LASHES
QMU, Glasgow, April 8 * * *

Two-and-a-half years on since the release of her universally-acclaimed debut Fur and Gold and the critics, for the most part, have fallen in love all over again with Natasha Kahn, better known as Bat For Lashes.
Released last week, praise for Two Sons has been high, with the phrase ‘album of the year’ already being bandied about. Tonight Kahn and her three-piece backing band – including ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley – played the majority of her sophomoric offering to a packed QMU and fittingly, given the new-age aura that surrounds Kahn, her visit was accompanied by a full moon.
Surrounded on stage by bric-a-brac ranging from a stack of TVs to an antler’s head, the willowy singer/songwriter displayed a very natural presence throughout. Caught up in the spell she was casting over the audience, her soaring reverb-soaked vocals on Sleep Alone, hypnotically underpinned by drummer Sarah Jones’ incessant beat, proved bewitching.
After a couple of less than scintillating new tracks proceedings got back on track with the arrival, like a gently brewing storm, of debut single The Wizard. It turned out to be the night’s highpoint even if it didn’t quite manage to conjure up that same ethereal, otherworldliness that had flowed so seamlessly at Oran Mor two years ago.

Fangs @ Tut’s 05-04-09

April 15, 2009

FANGS
King Tut’s, Glasgow, April 5 * *

Before they came to prominence as finalists on Channel 4’s Unsigned Act – the indie equivalent of X Factor – Fangs were a lively trio whose brand of sleazy punk-infused electro felt fresh and vital, but since adding a fourth member the Glaswegians seem to have lost their edge.
Having their best tracks aired repeatedly during the course of the talent show’s extended run has considerably lessened the impact of songs like openers S.I.C.K.O and Panic Attack. The former – the band’s debut release on King Tut’s Recordings – proved as catchy as ever but the delivery, although full of swagger and attitude, had the air of a band losing interest in what is a very simple song.
If the newer material had shown some or indeed any variation then such shortcomings would have been forgivable, but all too often the word rehash sprang to mind. Cos I Said So came close to breaking with the Fangs formula but, as was the case throughout, singer The Queen’s vocals sounded weak and lacked the punch required to back up her accompanying poses.
A drastically altered version of Fangs City Rockers made for a disappointing pre-encore finale – at times it sounded almost identical to Panic Attack – while the encore itself fizzled in confusion with the introduction of a wrestling-masked DJ at the sound desk.

BADDIES
Captains Rest, Glasgow, April 3 * * *

They may have only released one single but already Southend outfit Baddies is being tipped for great things. Of course given that the main source of adulation is the NME, you’d be forgiven for approaching tonight with a certain degree of scepticism.
Despite the growing hype it was a poor turn-out for the band’s Captains Rest appearance. To make matters worse the crowd noticeably thinned over the course of their 45-minute set – by the end only twenty punters remained and they seemed far from convinced.
A mix best described as unsatisfying didn’t help matters but neither did the breakneck speed at which much of their material was delivered. Song after song came and went in a blur of frenetic guitar, pounding drums and overpowering bass. As a result Michael Webster’s aggressive vocals were rendered ineffectual.
Still it was a lively display and one which on another night could have provided an altogether different experience.
For support band Jack Butler, the only real sound problems came courtesy of a very vocal idiot element determined to shout randomly whenever the opportunity presented itself. The Stirling quartet’s use of accentuated rhythms and angular guitar parts worked best on Are You A Hustler but without any stand-out track they may well toil to capture the music-buying public’s imagination.

DIZZEE RASCAL
SECC, Glasgow, April 7 * * *

Supporting The Prodigy on their nationwide tour has provided Dizzee Rascal with the perfect opportunity to test out material from forthcoming album Tongue and Cheek.
It was certainly a receptive crowd that awaited the diminutive Londoner’s arrival tonight at the SECC. A wailing siren was the cue for Mr Rascal and his two-man crew to bound on stage, arms aloft like conquering heroes.
With a good couple of thousand punters only too happy to follow his constant rallying cries of “make some noise Glasgow!” and “bounce like you mean it!” there was never going to be a shortage of enthusiasm generated. However relentless catchphrase repetition soon began to wear thin.
As did some of his new material which often felt disjointed with ideas randomly patched together – recent single Bonkers was the worst cut-and-paste offender. Of course it didn’t matter to the crowd who danced along to a chorus which sounded more Scooter than Rascal.
There’s no doubting he excelled when it came to the likes of Jus A Rascal, Stand Up Tall and Sirens, his quick-fire lyrics, spat out at great velocity, galvanising the Dizzee devotees down the front into a pogo-ing mass.

Prodigy @ SECC 07-04-09

April 10, 2009

PRODIGY
SECC, Glasgow, April 7

It may be three-and-a-half years since The Prodigy last played the SECC, but time away certainly hasn’t dented Glasgow’s enthusiasm for the band. Back to promote their No.1 album Invaders Must Die, the trio – Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality – tonight put in the kind of incendiary display that fans have come to expect over the last 18 years.
From start to finish they were on blistering form, feeding off the torrents of energy unleashed by a crowd determined to savour every moment and dance at every opportunity. Even when new songs like Omen and Invaders Must Die didn’t quite hit the mark, the accompanying barrage of lights plus Flint’s ability to work a crowd into a frenzy ensured momentum wasn’t lost.
Not surprisingly it was their big-hitting singles that prompted euphoric scenes. Voodoo People, Breathe and Firestarter dazzled as the masses bounced and sang along, but ultimately it fell to Smack My Bitch Up to spark the most fevered response of a hugely entertaining night.