Glasvegas and Carl Barat at Chop Suey, Seattle | 10 January 2009
Last night while waiting for Glasvegas, the best new band in Britain (man, how many unfortunate bands have been tagged with that line?), I guessed that the band must have hand picked every song played over the PA with the intention of giving us a history lesson, or at least a connect the dots of the many bands, who have influenced Glasvegas. There were songs by girl groups like the Crystals and Shangri-Las, a few surf instrumentals, the Cocteau Twins‘ Heaven or Las Vegas, House of Love, Slowdive, Raveonettes, Jesus and Mary Chain and Julie Cruise to name but a few. Conspicuously absent from the mix was any of the ‘big’ music. Listening to Glasvegas, it’s hard to ignore the big music because it’s what they do. It’s huge in a way that makes you want to run to the top of some Scottish mountain, pump your fist and shout to the gods. You know, the way that Big Country, Simple Minds, the Waterboys, the Alarm and U2 used to make you want to do.
Security was noticeably tighter last night, in the wake of last weekend’s shooting at the club. Everyone entering was being patted down for weapons. Last weekend’s violence didn’t seem to keep anyone away though, the place was packed. This was really no surprise because the band have gotten loads of press. Their debut album was only just released in the states this past Tuesday, though it has been available digitally since last fall. All that means I guess is that fewer and fewer people buy physical records anymore. As we waited for the band chants arose of here we, here we, here we fucking go which is the refrain from their song Go Square Go. As the lights dimmed we all donned our earplugs (and sunglasses) in preparation of the sonic assault and (powerful light show). Both were needed, but did little good. The wall of sound created by James Allen and his cousin Rab was truly formidable. While Allen stayed close to the mic, Rab and bassist Paul Donoghue were whirling around behind him trying not to run into one another amid the chaos of the flashing spotlights and myriad of strobes. Glasvegas have a stand up drummer (this seems to be a growing trend these days) who was barely viewable, tightly wedged in between stacks of amplifiers. The band create a huge sound that tends to bet a bit too much when listening to the entire album, but it’s James Allen’s high, and highly Scottish accented voice that makes Glasvegas songs so special. It’s actually quite feminine sounding, hence all the 60’s girl group comparisons. He sings like he’s constantly and totally heartbroken, lost all his money and his best friend, but the music soars to such great heights that you’re planted firmly in his corner. They band sounded great easily reproducing the highs from the record, but I thought the overpowering light show distracted from the music at times, they really don’t need it. No one else seemed to be too bothered by it. With crowd firmly in hand, the band left it to the audience to do the chorus of Daddy’s Gone. Though not quite what U2 induce with 40, punters were pretty into it. They’ll probably be playing arenas soon enough.
mp3: Glasvegas – Geraldine (buy the record)
Opening the show was a pleasant surprise. Carl Barat of Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things did a solo set of just him and an electric guitar. He played a handful of Libertines songs that a got everybody singing along to him. I think he may have done one or two new songs as well. You would probably get a better review of his set from one of the many women front and center singing along to every one of his songs. I realized this night the women dig Carl Barat. Why not, he’s a good looking dangerous kind of guy in a Jud Nelson, Breakfast Club kind of way. After his set all the women at the front left. I though that Barat might reappear for a song or two in the Glasvegas set like he did a last week in Glasgow, but no such luck.
There more photos and the Glasvegas setlist over at my flickr page.