You Write The Reviews: Concorde, Brighton
Wednesday 09 July 2008
So much can change in so short a time, as Glasvegas are discovering. Touring a debut album not due for release until September; already half-way through writing a Christmas album to be recorded at a Transylvanian cathedral; dubbed the next best band in Britain with only a string of seven-inch classics to their name... It seems that the entire weight of rock hype has suddenly been placed squarely on their shoulders. No pressure, then.
Strolling on stage, the band were intense, dressed in their trademark black like the chorus line from a Johnny Cash musical, taking shelter in a deep red mist. With the looks of a young Joe Strummer, James Allan, an ex-professional footballer, headed the charge, supported by his cousin Rab, a human giant who plays reverb-drenched guitar. The dark rhythms were supplied by the bassist, Paul Donoghue, and the drummer, Caroline McKay, who apparently couldn't even play before she joined the band.
Their defining sound is fuelled by a Jesus and Mary Chain engine, and they kicked off with "Flowers and Football Tops", propelled along by sweet vocal harmonies of Phil Spector proportions (there are major influences here from the 1960s female doo-wop era – the Ronettes mixed by My Bloody Valentine).
The spellbinding "You Are My Sunshine" is a magnificent anthem, which segued into the fantastically noisy "Lonesome Swan". On "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry", the words flow like a pseudo-Scottish rap, crammed between an onslaught of atmospheric, juggernaut riffing complementing the emotive lyrics.
The grungy, spiralling distortion on "Polmont on My Mind" often seemed out of control before being reigned in by James Allan's skyscraper vocals. To be honest, I don't think any cathedral could hold his voice.
Personal grievances and nightclub bashings were explored with gleeful abandon on the expletive-ridden "Go Square Go", before the emotive "Daddy's Gone" slayed one and all. Distorted vibrations like a shattering glass basilica ravaged the soul as tales of disbanded families choked James's singing, Supremes-like harmonies bringing the night home.
The name Glasvegas is a peculiar moniker and yet I left understanding why the band chose it. Majestic and euphoric, they spot you in pretty shimmering lights and in just more than 30 minutes your passions and spirit have been energised and brought to life.
Touring to 24 Aug (www.glasvegas.net)
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