Having languished in the indie-pop wilderness for some time, Athlete are back on the road but with nothing really to promote except a career in decline.

Billed as a ‘Hits Stripped’ show, or as singer/guitarist Joel Pott put it “we’re playing everything slow tonight”, the quartet played re-imagined versions of their most popular tracks, pouring extra schmaltz on already slick and sickly songs.

Judging by their response, for fans it was a performance to be savoured. Indeed the most memorable moment came courtesy of their impromptu “Oh Athlete we love you” sing-along, which although slightly disconcerting, proved the one genuinely touching moment of an otherwise insipid night.

Athlete’s ‘Tourist’

Having repeated the critical success garnered by their eponymous debut with latest offering Belong, New York quintet The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart rightly found themselves playing to a much larger crowd tonight than on their previous visit.

They may not have spoken much between songs, but the indie-pop combo definitely made a connection with the crowd, thanks to the energy and passion that went into delivering tracks like Stay Alive, The Body and set highlight Young Adult Fiction.

TPOBPAH’s ‘Young Adult Fiction’ Live

Returning to Glasgow to promote second solo album Women + Country, Jakob Dylan (yes his dad is indeed Bob) appeared a cool, calm and collected figure as he and his backing band hit the stage.
He remained so even in the face of sound which throughout tonight’s show never quite made the grade. Shrill bursts of feedback and a complete lack of bass might have caused some artists to complain but Dylan took it in his stride.
At times during the more atmospheric numbers the singer/guitarist prompted an almost dream-like state thanks to the effortless flow of the music and in particular Jon Rauhouse’s pedal steel guitar playing, but like a dream too often the songs blurred and were soon forgotten, replaced by the next in a succession of pleasant rather than compelling rock-infused country tracks.
It was a trend that continued for the duration of a set which at times seemed never-ending. Thankfully a rousing encore, complete with hit One Headlight, went some way to making amends for what was overall a routine performance.

LAURA MARLING
The Arches, Glasgow, November 15 * * *

One time member of Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling is one the leading lights among the indie-folk set. Last year the nineteen-year old songstress released her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, and while not necessarily a commercial success it certainly won over the critics, earning the softly spoken singer a Mercury Music Prize nomination.
Fresh from a stint supporting Daniel Johnston and almost a year on from her last solo tour, Marling is once again out on her own, showcasing material from her recently recorded second album.
Tucked away at the back of the Arches venue, The Studio’s intimate surrounds proved the ideal setting for Marling’s ethereal music. The room even played its part, the regular muffled rumblings from the trains above adding to the eerie atmosphere on the darker new songs.
Self deprecating of her ‘banter’ and stage presence, there was a real sense of honesty to both the music and performance. However it wasn’t always enough to make this a fully captivating display. Too often the spell she cast was broken by the need to change guitar and tune up while a handful of relatively average songs somewhat diluted proceedings.
Still there was much to enjoy, not least her Joni Mitchell-isms on Rambling Man which along with final track Alas I Cannot Swim, and the bulk of new material aired, helped make it a successful and well-received visit to Glasgow.