Priests @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, 22 May

priests

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★★

Don’t be fooled by frontwoman Katie Alice Greer’s cutesy pastel pink raincoat, her freshly manicured nails or her bleach blonde pleats because as soon as Priests’ first song starts, you’ll quickly realise that looks can be very deceiving. There could not have been a more perfect venue than the dark basement of Glasgow’s Hug & Pint for tonight’s gig. This is the kind of punk rock show most people can only dream of and Priests are the perfect band to be at the centre of it.

Playing tracks from their new album Nothing Feels Natural, as well as some “deep cuts”, as Greer refers to them, her voice takes a serious beating throughout the show, as does drummer Daniele Daniele’s drum kit. The band seem to be fond of upping the pace and the noise for their live performances. Staring menacingly at the crowd Greer leans into them, stretching her hands out as though attempting to grab them, she really does have everyone in the room eating out of the palm of her hand; and they’re close enough to manage to.

Punk rock lesson number one: play your instruments so hard that your band are forced to do some DIY work mid-show to keep them in place. Punk rock lesson number two: impersonate and misquote American presidents to the mass confusion of the audience. Punk rock lesson number three: play every song like it’s the last one you’ll ever play. Priests are punk rock, deal with it.

 

PWR BTTM @ CCA, Glasgow, 15 Apr

pwr bttm cca

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★★★

PWR BTTM’s Ben Hopkins makes a crucial observation about the difference between British and American crowds halfway through tonight’s show at Glasgow’s CCA: that Americans will scream in your face and maybe even throw a cheeseburger at you if they enjoy the show, whereas British people will tell you ten reasons why they found it interesting.

To begin, there are two very important things to be taken from the show: 1) Support band Orchards are about to be your new favourite indie band and 2) PWR BTTM are the most exciting live band around right now. Here are a few more reasons why the show was interesting.

Hopkins shredded the life out of his guitar and his vocal cords throughout most of the show but particularly during performances of Silly, from new album Pageant, and Ugly Cherries, from the duo’s eponymous debut. When Liv Bruce takes over the mic, the biggest singalongs of the evening occur, to fan favourite I Wanna Boi and recent single Answer My Text.

The chemistry between Bruce and Hopkins is unlike that in many other bands. The pair bounce off each other like a pendulum swinging at full force, exchanging banter back and forth between songs, making for a thrilling – and hilarious – punk-rock show from two performers in their absolute prime.

If all musicians could be as enthusiastic about being in a band together and playing their music live as PWR BTTM are music, and the world, would be in a far better state.

Review: Florence & the Machine – Glasgow S.E.C.C. 12/03/12

Originally published for IAreYeti.

For a woman only two albums in to her career, to be selling out arenas, within a matter of minutes, around the country is quite an incredible achievement. What many people may not realise is just how dedicated and adoring fans of Florence & the Machine are, but this was made abundantly clear on her ‘Ceremonials’ arena tour.

Despite fantastic support slots from Spector and The Horrors, all the crowd seemed to care about was Florence, which was a shame considering how great both band’s sets were. For such a new and relatively unknown band, playing arenas at this stage in their career would probably be quite daunting for Spector. However, they have a distinct enough sound and style to allow them to hold their own in that kind of situation and, hopefully, gain a few new fans in the process.

Following them were The Horrors, who continue to prove, with every album they release and every live performance they give, just how much they are developing as a band. Being able to perform seven minute songs, like the brilliant ‘Sea Within a Sea’, well live, without allowing your attention to drift away from the song is one of their greatest qualities. Whether supporting Florence & the Machine was a smart move for the band, considering the different audiences they appeal to, doesn’t really matter because they are and always will be an incredible band.

As the lights went down in anticipation of Florence’s arrival on stage, the crowd cheered and descended in to synchronised chants of “Florence, Florence…”, during what seemed like a never-ending wait. Eventually, Florence appeared on stage, dressed in a black embellished cape, from behind her church-like set piece – a fitting choice considering all the religious references on new album, ‘Ceremonials’.

Kicking off the set with two tracks from her new album, beginning with ‘Only If for a Night’ in to ‘What the Water Gave Me’, Florence proved that, not only can she fill arenas, but that her songs fit perfectly in these kinds of venues. If there is one word to describe Florence’s music, it is big and it is the grand, epic nature of her songs which allow them to thrive so much in an arena, where they don’t seem too over-powering.

However, the stripped back version of ‘You’ve Got the Love’, a song which Florence has pretty much made her own, also worked well and allowed her the opportunity to sing without all the usual shouting and lengthy notes. Old favourites like ‘Dog Days are Over’ and ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ were sung back at Florence word for word, so much so that she could have stopped singing and the crowd probably wouldn’t have noticed and would have kept on going.

With endless shouts of “I love you, Florence”, between songs, coming from crowd members, Florence clearly had her fans wrapped around her finger, in whose eyes she can do no wrong. To have so many dedicated fans at this point in her career is a great asset and means that Florence & the Machine can only really get bigger and, hopefully, better.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Review: The Machine Room EP Launch – The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh 03/03/12

Originally published for IAreYeti.

To celebrate the release of their debut EP, ‘Love from a Distance’, up-and-coming Edinburgh five-piece, The Machine Room, held a gig at The Wee Red Bar on Saturday night, with support coming from Zed Penguin and Blank Canvas. With three very different sounding acts lined up, it was set to be an interesting night.

Opening the gig was Zed Penguin, who began his set as just him and his guitar, before being joined by friends to play bass and drums on a few more songs. The lack of crowd members at this point made Matthew Winters’ solo half of the performance all the more intimate in such a small venue. To say his music is to an acquired taste is an extreme understatement, which is not to say it is bad, just perhaps a bit odd. Maybe if you were on a road trip through the American deserts, the songs would have more of an impact, but in this tiny venue it just didn’t seem to fit. However, when the band joined him for the remainder of his performance, the music sounded a bit fuller and seemed almost reminiscent of Josh Homme’s work on ‘The Desert Sessions’: it’s a bit psych-rock, a bit stoner-rock but quite blues-y at the same time.

Following on were Blank Canvas, whose upbeat indie-pop songs managed to get the increasing crowd up and moving. For a band that appear so young, their sound is surprisingly mature and is not just an emulation of every other wannabe Arctic Monkeys indie band. Their combination of smooth, dreamy melodies with deep, brooding vocals make for a collection of catchy, yet intriguing songs. Previously released single, ‘By the Fire’, is a great example of the kind of ‘pop songs with an edge’, or ‘heavy pop’, as WU LYF have described their music, that the band tends to create. While the band’s influences do come across in their sound, it is not obvious enough for it to be boring and over-done, as they put their own twist on the dark indie-rock style made popular by the likes of Joy Division and Interpol. Blank Canvas is definitely a band to look out for.

Then came the headliners, The Machine Room, much to the crowd’s delight. Popular singles, ‘Camino de Soda’ and ‘Your Head on the Floor Next Door’, were greeted with cheers and applause from fans; the latter of which has an opening lyric so ridiculous, it’s actually quite brilliant: “I’ve never felt so good since I sang Away in a Manger / I’ve never felt so bad since I went down on a stranger”. For a band to be able to put their songs across live as well as they do on their recordings is a rare skill but the fact that each member is as good as the other at what they do in The Machine Room makes this possible to achieve; something you wouldn’t expect considering the style of their music. As the band’s performance drew to a close, the crowd were left wanting more, with fans calling out for “one more tune”; a promising sign for a band still very much in their infancy.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Review: Marina & the Diamonds – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London 26/02/12

Originally published for IAreYeti.

In what was to be a showcase of new material from her upcoming album, ‘Electra Heart’, Marina & the Diamonds did not disappoint. Along with brilliant support in the form of Eugene McGuinness, London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire was set alight with talent on Sunday night.

Looking suave in a silk shirt, with a freshly styled quiff, Eugene McGuinness swaggered on stage and launched straight in to his new single, ‘Shotgun’, showing the crowd what he was all about. When introducing himself, McGuinness commented on how nobody in the crowd will have any idea who he is but that was no issue, as they would by the end of his set.

With a name like Eugene McGuinness, you would not usually expect such an effortlessly cool performer, with a very old-school rock’n’roll vibe about him. But it is not just McGuinness’ style that is so appealing; most importantly, he also has great songs like ‘Lion’ and ‘Thunderbolt’ to hold a crowd’s attention.

In a change of musical style, when the crowd had sufficiently packed in, Marina graced the stage, dressed like a flower girl at a wedding, and performed a beautiful rendition of recent single ‘Radioactive’. Accompanied only by a piano, Marina was able to show off the operatic tones of her voice, which don’t always come across on her recordings.

While lyrically her new songs may still surround the same old themes, highlighting her fascination with the US and the American Dream, the sound seems to be a lot more 80’s influenced, with electronics and synthesisers featuring more heavily.

Not to let anyone down, Marina played plenty songs from her debut album, ‘The Family Jewels’, including popular singles ‘I Am Not a Robot’ and ‘Oh No!’, much to the crowd’s delight. Ending with an encore of ‘Fear and Loathing’, a song from her upcoming album, followed by hit single ‘Hollywood’, the gig drew to a close.

With a predominantly male audience declaring their love for Marina in between almost every song and constantly commenting on how hot she is, it was quite difficult to take her seriously. However, she is a very good performer, with a large enough collection of great pop songs to get even the most timid of crowds moving. If only she would lose the cuddly toys and heart-shaped stage props…

Overall Rating: 3/5