It’s reassuring that despite Scotland’s love of lad-rock, new self-proclaimed kings of the genre Viva Brother have failed to take the country by storm despite writing what singer/guitarist Lee Newell has described as “the best songs of the last 20 years.”

Truth be told, like their last visit to Glasgow, tonight the five-piece did little to suggest their songs are destined to receive the ultimate lad-rock accolade and make the move from venue to football ground anytime soon.

The best that could be said of the Slough outfit’s set was that final number Darling Buds Of May has a memorable hook, however whether you’ll want to remember it is another matter.

Watch the video for Viva Brother’s ‘Darling Buds of May 

With The Fratellis on hiatus after the Glasgow trio’s second album Here We Stand flopped, and Codeine Velvet Club barely in existence a year before commitment issues led to his departure, Jon Fratelli has returned, this time as a solo artist.

Tonight he and his band, which for some reason included a second drummer alongside Fratellis sticksman Mince, played a clutch of largely uninspired tracks from debut album Psycho Jukebox.

As you’d expect, the hometown crowd were on side throughout, most vocally during the Fratellis’ tracks which littered the set, but overall it was an underwhelming performance which offered few surprises.

Watch the video for Jon Fratelli’s ‘Santo Domingo’

It’s easy to understand the appeal of Kendal quartet Wild Beasts. Hypnotic rhythms underpin much of what they do, while their songs have a dramatic air that gives the overall sound a sense of grandeur.

However although the crowd was certainly receptive, there was a lacklustre aspect to tonight’s show that made their set easy rather than avid listening.

Deeper was the pick of the new material aired. Lifted from their new album Smother, the song oozed atmosphere even with the slightly Tony Hadley-esque vocals. Less pleasing was the more upbeat Still Got The Taste which failed to ignite. All in all it was a hit or miss set and one which lacked a cutting edge.

Wild Beasts’ ‘Albatross’

It’s not often a band write a song during a sound-check then debut it hours later. Well with opener Glasgow 90 that’s exactly what Atlanta-based quartet Deerhunter did tonight, and in so doing ensured their 90-minute set got off to the best possible start. Simpler than what was to come but no less potent, it was a real signal of intent.

What did follow was nothing short of mesmerising at times especially on the epic Desire Lines and Never Stops. Both laden with atmosphere and punctuated by ragged bursts of heavily-distorted guitar, the former provoked the kind of sustained applause few bands achieve but all aspire to.

Deerhunter’s ‘Memory Boy’ Live on Letterman

Despite his being over 30 minutes late, the more ardent Patrick Wolf fans who’d gathered in front of the stage greeted the singer’s eventual arrival with unwavering enthusiasm. No great surprise given the loyal following he’s cultivated over his five-album career.

Whether Wolf’s brand of folk and electro-infused pop was worth the wait is however debatable. Dramatic and delivered like the consummate performer he undoubtedly is, there’s no denying Wolf’s ability to write a pop song but a tendency to over-complicate matters, coupled with the at times predictable nature of some songs, all too often saw style triumph over substance.

Patrick Wolf’s ‘House’

It’s ten years since Idlewild released 100 Broken Windows. Seen by many as one of the most important albums to come out of Scotland, tonight the five-piece celebrated its tenth anniversary by playing the whole album to a packed Oran Mor.

“The problem is you know what’s coming next” singer Roddy Woomble declared after a blistering one two of Little Discourage and I Don’t Have The Map. As it turned out it there was no problem, as the energy of the music was easily matched by the passion of the band.

Punchier, more frenetic numbers like Idea Track, Rusty and The Bronze Medal not only showed no signs of ageing but more importantly gave guitarists Rod Jones and Allan Stewart the chance to cut loose, to mount monitors and play to the crowd.

A healthy helping of the hits followed with final track A Modern Way Of Letting Go ensuring the perfect start to New Year’s Eve.

Regardless of what happens after their self-imposed hiatus, the fact the majority of tonight’s sold-out crowd were on the right side of 25 suggests there’ll always be an audience for Idlewild, and rightly so.

No one was safe from the marauding Tim Harrington tonight, not even the guy playing the fruit machine at the back of the Oran Mor, as Les Savy Fav’s larger-than-life singer took every chance to get amongst the crowd.

Throughout what was an unpredictable set, in terms of delivery at least, Harrington was a loose cannon, screaming in the faces of unsuspecting punters, charging through the crowd. You were never sure where he might pop up or what he might be wearing, at one point he donned a hippo mask before launching into another incomprehensible whirlwind of mangled vocals.

While Harrington’s antics didn’t always appear to be appreciated by the rest of the band – drummer Harrison Hayes seemed less than impressed throughout – judging by the crowd’s response they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

At times Harrington was an overshadowing force, but equally without the raw energy of the frontman’s performance it would have been a distinctly average display as musically the band’s indie-rock only came to life when Harrington was in full flight.

This may have been singer/songwriter Lissie’s third time in Glasgow but tonight was the night she made the leap from support act to star turn. Kicking off her first headline tour in the city will certainly have given her a lot of encouragement as throughout, the sold-out crowd were eager to show their appreciation for the Californian.

Playing tracks from her debut album Catching A Tiger, Lissie proved an endearing presence from start to finish. Clearly enjoying herself and the reaction to songs like Little Lovin’, Cuckoo and When I’m Alone provoked, her energetic delivery and soulful, bluesy vocals made forgiving the middle-of-the-road nature of some tracks easy.

Best showcasing her song-writing and vocal talents, Wedding Bells and Bully were early highlights but overall it was In Sleep that showed Lissie in the best light. More adventurous, mixing a grungy attack with a 70s groove, the song even survived an at times noodley guitar solo.

Returning to Glasgow in December to play the ABC, the likeable singer can expect another lively reception from her burgeoning fan base.

Two years on since The Vaselines reunited at Glasgow’s ABC, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee have recorded new album Sex With An X, got a new live band together and racked up some much-needed time on the road.

Tonight playing the intimate surrounds of Oran Mor, there was a real sense of urgency and no shortage of energy as the five-piece rattled through openers Oliver Twisted, The Day I Was A Horse and I Hate The 80s.

Strangely for a hometown gig, atmosphere was thin on the ground. Possibly a result of an overly long set list and the inevitable lulls that ensued, often Kelly and McKee’s banter proved more entertaining than the music as too many songs failed to distinguish themselves.

Support band, Glasgow trio Haight-Ashbury proved an altogether more compelling proposition thanks to their psychedelic folk fusion. Sure a tendency to over complicate some songs did detract from their potency but on the whole their imaginative arrangements and darkly bewitching melodies made it a set to remember.

June 18, 2010

Oran Mor, Glasgow, June 16 * * *

Kenny Anderson, better known as King Creosote, is undoubtedly Scotland’s, if not the UK’s, most prolific singer-songwriter. According to Wikipedia the Fifer has recorded over 40 albums in 12 years, the most recent of which – Flick The Vs – was released last year through Domino and Anderson’s own label Fence Records.
Appearing as part of the West End Festival, the infinitely affable Anderson was playing, as he put it, to “500 close friends” at Oran Mor tonight. There was certainly a very relaxed vibe to proceedings throughout his curfew-bursting set.
Making a connection with an audience comes easily to Anderson. Comfortable on stage, smiling broadly for much of this performance, a big part of the King Creosote appeal comes from the rapport he so effortlessly strikes up with a crowd and tonight was no different.
Musically there’s no doubting Anderson’s song-writing ability. Simple guitar, confessional lyrics and subtle, emotive melodies made songs like Jump At The Cats, Something Beginning With D and Nooks particularly potent.
However over-running to cram in more songs, including a couple of with Admiral Fallow and The Pictish Trail, did seem like overkill – little wonder then that the crowd’s attention audibly wandered at times.