OK Go @ ABC2 18-01-10

January 22, 2010

OK GO
ABC2, Glasgow, January 18 * * *

Originally billed to play the 1200 plus capacity ABC1, a general lack of interest for this show meant a major downgrading to the more intimate surrounds of the ABC2 was required. However even at a quarter of the size it was still far from packed.
It didn’t seem to faze the band however. Frontman Damian Kulash, suitably lubricated by a healthy supply of whiskey, revelled in the chance to get hands-on with an easily accessible and enthusiastic crowd. Neither did it mean a scaling down of their stage show.
Bursts of red and yellow ticker-tape often drew more cheers than the pop-rock songs they were designed to augment, while the crowd was at its most attentive not when Kulash was boring us with dreary ballad Last Leaf but when he was cracking wise between tracks.
And therein lay the problem. The music very quickly became secondary, a distraction before the next round of banter. Entertaining as a spectacle yes but by the end it was OK, just go.

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WOLFMOTHER
Academy, Glasgow, January 14                  * * *

While hardly ground-breaking, Wolfmother certainly made an impact with their eponymous debut back in 2006. Paying homage to 70s heavyweights Zeppelin, Sabbath et al, the trio made up for a lack of originality with infinitely catchy riffs and a potent live show. Back with a new album – Cosmic Egg – and a new line-up after co-founding members Chris Ross and Myles Heskett left for “irreconcilable personal and musical differences”, on tonight’s evidence the change in personnel has hindered rather than helped  singer/guitarist  Andrew Stockdale’s attempts at rock-world domination.
What we got tonight was a somewhat bloated set full of noodling guitar and disjointed songs. Alongside crowd favourites like Dimension, Joker and the Thief and Woman, most new material felt flimsy and somewhat cluttered.
In essence a one-man show, with Stockdale’s three hired hands adding little compared to their predecessors, it was a night that failed to dazzle and one where support band The Black Angels easily outshone their big-riffing tour-mates.

Nacional @ Tut’s 08-01-10

January 15, 2010

NACIONAL
King Tut’s, Glasgow, January 8 * * *

The last couple of years have seen Glasgow-based five-piece Nacional start to make a name for itself. A much-prized invite to SXSW, a prestigious spot on the Glastonbury bill and an endorsement from Elbow’s Guy Garvey have all helped raise the band’s profile.
It’s set them up nicely for the release of their debut album which should see the light of day within the next few months. However distinguishing themselves from the hordes of similar guitar-bands currently plying their trade will be a challenge, especially if tonight’s set is anything to go by.
That’s not to say they didn’t show promise during the course of their hour-long set. Telephone’s jittery vibe and stop-start rhythm easily made up for run-of-the-mill opener Yorkshire while the influence of The National, and more specifically Abel, on Roll My Eyes added a real sense of urgency and intensity.
Throughout however it was Robert Armstrong’s less than convincing vocals that did the most damage. Lacking power and that indefinable quality that makes you hang on a singer’s every word, his delivery felt restrained and at times devoid of emotion.
Joined by a string quartet for the last few songs, the quintet rounded off a hit and miss set with First/Second Killing – the trickle of applause received on its conclusion telling its own story.

ALEX WAYT
King Tut’s, Glasgow, January 7 * *

According to a promotional quote on his Myspace page, Alex Wayt’s sound is “destinctive and accessible”. You’d be hard pushed to disagree with the latter part of this statement although it has to be said being accessible doesn’t necessarily equate to being good.
The first adjective on the other hand couldn’t be further from the truth as there was little evidence of anything even remotely distinctive about Wayt’s songwriting or performance tonight.
The only thing we can really glean from the quote is that this particular Glaswegian troubadour needs to use spell-check more often.
In front of a sparse turn-out, the majority of which bore all the hallmarks of being family and friends, Wayt never lacked confidence but his attempts at working the crowd verged on the comedic at times thanks to the audience’s size and half-hearted responses.
The signs weren’t good from the start. Choosing to make a choreographed entrance set the tone immediately. A couple of fairly predictable tracks followed with Wayt and his four-piece backing band doing little to raise the temperature.
Someone Like You epitomised the middle-of-the-road and rather soulless nature of Wayt’s music, the song instantly forgettable save for a spot of Baywatch-like piano while new track Don’t Say It, with its uneasy octave jump, could have been written by David Brent.
23 was meant to signal the end but the crowd’s demands for “one more song” were sadly obliged but the less said about that the better, nothing good ever came from covering Buggles.

CALL ME ISHMAEL
King Tut’s, Glasgow, January 3 * *

If, as King Tut’s literature suggests, Call Me Ishmael are indeed “one of the most promising new bands in Glasgow” then hell has frozen over just like the pavements around the legendary venue tonight. Substitute the word ‘Ishmael’ with ‘a taxi’ and you get a more accurate gist.
After energetic but dull Biffy-fied opener I Am Stop, You Are Go proceedings ground to a halt as Aiden Murphy’s guitar decided, as it turned out rightly, to quit the band. What followed was truly farcical.
Finding a replacement wasn’t a problem, however tuning it was. For over five minutes we were ‘entertained’ by shambolic scenes and, what we can only hope, was an improvised song from singer Ryan Meloy while Murphy struggled to get to grips with the task at hand.
Eventually the issue was resolved but sympathy for the five-piece’s plight was short-lived. Second offering Harpoon required two attempts to get going and did little to renew faith in a band seemingly ill-prepared, while Your Favourite Colour epitomised the sheer lack of inspiration the quintet showed throughout – another weak riff, another forgettable song.

VAL VERDE
King Tut’s, Glasgow, January 2 * *

For unknown, unsigned band Val Verde to sell out King Tut’s you’d think they must be doing something right. That thought was quickly called into question tonight on learning that a fair chunk of the crowd were bussed in from the quartet’s hometown of Dunfermline. It’s nothing new, how else would you explain Dundee’s The Law packing the same venue a few years back?
As it turned out it wasn’t a good omen, neither was the introduction of a new crowd chant “we’re only here for the Verde” which rang out for much of the night. On the aptly named Can You Hear Me singer Ryan Sharp’s vocals were sporadically drowned out by the throng’s over-zealous chanting.
However if the previous eight songs were anything to go on then we didn’t really miss much as throughout Sharp’s Americanised, Jon Bon Jovi vocal theatrics did little to sell songs which lacked imagination and most tellingly a cutting edge.
Instead tracks like Ghosts, Number 8 and Do You Remember Mono felt predictable and at times fairly mindless. The band themselves didn’t do much wrong in terms of delivery, but with little in the way of presence all in all it was a disappointing start to the decade.

MY LATEST NOVEL
King Tut’s, Glasgow, December 28 * * *

No matter how hard they might try there are some bands that seem somehow out-of-place on stage. They appear more like individuals than a band. The Shins are one example, another is Greenock’s My Latest Novel.
There’s no doubting their collective talents, two acclaimed albums are testament to that, but live performances can suffer from the slightly shambolic air the five-piece all too often exude between songs. Momentum is the casualty and tonight was no different.
When you could actually hear the band over the incessant chat there were moments to savour. Opener All In All In All Is and the excellent Hopelessly Endlessly, taken from second album Deaths & Entrances, proved most compelling.
With little in the way of rapport between band and crowd, it’s maybe not surprising that levels of background noise rose steadily throughout the set – “I love this one” yelped one punter before proceeding to yap away for the duration of the song.
Crowd and occasionally sound gremlins aside, the biggest shortcoming came courtesy of a band lacking in the kind of presence, passion and cohesion that can make a good studio group a great live band, a real shame given their obvious song-writing ability.