Monday, April 6th, 2009
Flowers And Football Tops
Glasvegas at the Mod Club in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s far too easy to be cynical about Glasvegas. Emerging from the UK as they did last year on a massive wave of hype with a sound that was unabashedly retro and a matching ’50s-greaser gang image, the Glasgow-based quartet were quick targets for those who wanted to dismiss them as contrived and calculated, not that that stopped them from topping the charts and becoming massive at home.
For my part, I went from intrigued on first listen to mildly suspicious after spending time with their self-titled debut and then somewhat won over following their daylight SxSW set. At the time, I figured that seeing them in neutral environs such as a SxSW day show, stripped of their light show and adoring fans, would provide a truer indication if they were for real or not. And yes they sold me, but it wasn’t until Friday night’s show at the Mod Club – their long-awaited Toronto debut – that I realized what I was missing out on by skipping the formal sales pitch.
Glasvegas are not ashamed to aspire to stadium-scale grandeur, with massive Spector-via-JAMC sonics and anthemic choruses designed to rouse the cheap seats and while the Mod Club is hardly Wembley Stadium, packed as it was with fans hollering along with every song, it wasn’t far off. From the opening notes of “Geraldine” through end end of their just under an hour-long set, it was clear that Glasvegas weren’t there to convince anyone they were a great band – they were there to celebrate that as fact with those who already knew it. Looking not a little bit Strummer and clad in a leather jacket (later swapped for a tank top and donated tartan scarf), frontman James Allan displayed dollops of rock star charisma, basking in the adoration of the audience but returning every bit of it right back to the crowd.
It was the sort of rapport that made me ashamed to have ever questioned the sincerity of the band. That doesn’t necessarily excuse some of the overly-direct earnestness of the songwriting, but it does mitigate it. Seeing and hearing Allan bellow the words with unquestionable emotion, no matter how clumsy, then back off while the enraptured audience take over while more than matching his passion… yes, on paper it’s kind of cliche but in person? It’s still pretty stirring. The band will probably always have more than it’s share of critics and naysayers, but I know where I stand now – over there with the other folks singing, “here we fucking go”.
The Toronto Sun has a glowing review of the show and reports that the band will be back this Fall, eye has another review. Music Snobbery has an interview with the band. And congrats go to Jarita, Ashlee and Mark who won the signed Glasvegas albums.
Drowned In Sound chats with Ryan Adams on the occasion of his retirement from the world of music. He interviews Marianne Faithfull for Black Book while The Guardian profiles Adams and other rockers turned authors including Nick Cave and Billy Bragg.
I saw almost 50 shows at SxSW this year, but one of the ones I missed – and regret – was The Uglysuit, who only played like three shows. Could they not have taken one of the Vivian Girls’ two dozen shows? They’ve released a new MP3 from their fine 2008 self-titled debut, reviewed here.
Stream: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”
I Heart Music is sharing MP3s of the CBC Fuse session with The Sadies and The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie from a couple years ago. I saw them team up at the Horseshoe in December 2007 and it was intense. The Sadies’ new album backing John Doe, Country Club, is out April 14 and they play the Horseshoe together on April 30. The Tragically Hip’s new one We Are The Same is out this week and they have a six-night stand at Massey Hall the week of May 11.
WOXY has posted MP3s from a slew of Lounge Act sessions recorded during SxSW, including sets from The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart, Ume and The Wooden Birds. They also welcomed The Rural Alberta Advantage in for a session last week.
The National Post has an interview with yours truly about blogs and stuff and includes what I hope is one of the worst pictures of me in existence. If anyone tells me that’s actually a good photo, I will despair.