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.

 

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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.

S U R V I V E @ The Art School, 20 Feb

survive-live

S U R V I V E live at The Deaf Institute, Manchester by Latisha Vasianna

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★★

If live music is to be an experience, then S U R V I V E pull off exactly that at Glasgow’s Art School. Without a microphone in sight, it quickly becomes apparent that there will be no crowd interaction from the band tonight. Instead they focus on the music, taking us on a loud and cosmic journey through their synth and bass back catalogue.

Playing tracks from their most recent album RR7349, the music takes on a whole new life live; mainly because of the stunning light show that accompanies it. Seamlessly syncing with the music, lights alter between shades of blue and purple, fading into darkness and then abruptly flashing on cue: at times unsettling, but for the most part entirely fitting.

In the live setting, the tracks don’t feel as dark and eerie as they do on record. There are even moments where the music sounds euphoric and, quite frankly, danceable. Think more hands in the air, finger pointing than nonchalant head bobbing.

The band’s back to basics approach to performing live, where crowd and inter-band interaction is scarce, may not exactly be everyone’s cup of tea. However, their ability to put on a captivating live show which relies solely on their compositions is a true testament to their musicianship and shows that sometimes, music really can speak for itself.

https://survive.bandcamp.com/

Laura Marling & BBC SSO @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Review

laura-marling

Originally published for The Skinny.

Laura Marling & BBC SSO @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 19 Jan

Review

★★★★

Shining a light on female artists is very much at the forefront of this year’s Celtic Connections festival, so what better way to kick off proceedings than with a night full of incredible female performances?

Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart shouts out ‘female power’ during her performance on the festival’s opening night at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, acknowledging many of the women performing at the evening’s event and throughout the festival, as well as those working behind the scenes. This follows a bill of eclectic folk-based artists from near and far, ranging from young Scottish talents Rachel Sermanni and Adam Holmes to Sahrawi singer Aziza Brahim.

The evening’s headliner Laura Marling performs orchestral reworkings of tracks selected from across her five albums, arranged beautifully by Kate St. John. Accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley, Marling begins with epic versions of the tracks that opened her 2013 album Once I Was an Eagle; Take the Night Off, and I Was an Eagle.

Marling tells the audience she’s learnt a lot about Glasgow’s history during her two days in town, and how much she has enjoyed her time in the city, before introducing Goodbye England (Covered In Snow). It’s a slow-burner, but as more audience members begin to pick up on the joke, ripples of applause break out and eventually lead to cheers. Patriotism is certainly alive and well at Celtic Connections.

Returning to the stage for her final song, Marling performs latest single Wild Fire, from her upcoming album Semper Femina, alone with just her acoustic guitar. The closer proves that Marling can put on a spine-tingling performance like no other, with or without the bells and whistles.


Part of Celtic Connections festival 2017

New Noise: Holy Esque

Prepare to be lured in by the all-encompassing, expansive stadium-filling sound of Holy Esque.

Holy Esque

Originally published for Wonderland.

They may have only been together for a couple of years but Glasgow four-piece Holy Esque have quickly wowed crowds with their unique sound and enthralling live performances. Since the release of their first EP last year, the band have received regular airplay from Radio 1′s Ally McCrae and Huw Stephens, all of which resulted in their first ever Glastonbury performance on the BBC Introducing stage this summer. Wonderland spoke to frontman Pat Hynes ahead of the band’s upcoming mini-tour at the end of the month.

How did you all meet and decide to form Holy Esque?

Myself and Keir had been speaking of starting a project for some time. We met through mutual friends: Hugo worked in a bar with me and Ralph went to art school with Keir, so it all fell in to place fairly smoothly.

Your latest single ‘St.’ was released in March, so what have you been up to since then?

A whole lot. We came out of March with that single and SXSW behind us. Since then we’ve doubled our back catalogue, recorded new material and played a few festivals, including Glastonbury, so we’re on the right track.

You’ve had a lot of praise since the release of your EP but you’re still unsigned – has it just been a case of not finding the right label to fit and just taking your time with it so you know you’ve made the right decision?

Everything in music is a mystery within a mystery so it takes a great deal of time to see through that and make sense of simple situations. I’m sure when the time is right everything will be clearer for you and us.

How do you deal with all the attention – are you one of those bands that thrives on it or do you try and detach yourself from it and not really think about it?

I wouldn’t say we thrive on it or detach ourselves. It’s never been a thing that we try and focus on. Obviously when you’re given praise for something it’s natural to feel good about it but I think it’s very easy for bands nowadays to get caught up in a storm of their own self-importance, in turn forgetting what they’re actually there for in the first place. That being said, I think it’s healthy not to over think attention.

 

 

It’s very difficult to come across bands with a truly unique sound anymore but a lot of people talk about the uniqueness of your music – how did you come across and develop your sound?

There was never a set plan or blue print for Holy Esque when we began. It was more like a garage band to begin with, in the sense of noise in an empty space but it’s progressed so much since then. I can’t explain it, I guess it’s the result of four people getting together and literally seeing what happens.

You just played Glastonbury for the first time on the BBC Introducing stage, which I can imagine is a pretty big moment for a band – how was it?

Glastonbury was amazing. It’s not like any other festival I’ve been to. Ally McCrae at Radio 1 was kind enough to put us forward for the BBC Introducing stage and I think we made the most of it. Hopefully we’ll be back next year.

Have you been working on putting together an album at all?

We’ve been recording a lot of new material recently which sounds really good. It’s all quite progressive. As far as albums go, who can say – the songs are there.

You worked with Kevin Burleigh (Glasvegas, Simple Minds) on the EP and on ‘St.’ – do you have any plans to work with him again in the future? You seem to make a pretty good pairing.

We share a mutual understanding over what the band is trying to achieve. It can be very difficult to find a producer who simply ‘gets’ the band and when you find someone who can truly bring out the best in a project it would be careless to look elsewhere at such an early stage.

You have a few live dates coming up quite soon – will you be debuting any new material at these shows?

There’s a big possibility that the next set will be dominated by new material.

Holy Esque play Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London on 29th August. holyesque.com