GlasvegasO2 Academy Liverpool 10/10/18
As a fairly late bloomer to live music, my first gig fell on the Liverpool leg of GLASVEGAS’ second album tour. Their debut album had thrown me into a world of seasonal affective disorder, stabbings and sectarianism, all delivered in a thick Glaswegian drawl, with a sprawling soundscape wrapped up in radio static and distortion. The album played continuously between my tinny Apple headphones from the moment I heard it; I couldn’t get enough. As soon as the chance to see them arose, I jumped at it, and as I pushed my way through the crowd to the writhing, humid mass of bodies huddled near the front, a spark was ignited inside which hasn’t stopped glowing since. Covered in sweat and beer, and with a souvenir T-shirt in hand, the first experience of temporary tinnitus whistled loud in my ears; their songs still echoing through the night as I lay in bed reliving the experience afterwards.
Almost a decade has passed since that first show, with hundreds if not thousands of gigs having been attended since. But that first experience remains one of the happiest gigs of my life. Tonight’s show – 10 years on from the release of the group’s self-titled, Mercury-nominated debut album – opens up a little differently; this time there’s a stomach full of anxiety as I head into the room, but that fades away the moment the band take the stage. The awkwardness of being a solo gig-goer disappears as the blaring guitars allow self-consciousness to slip away.
For some bands, anniversary tours are shameless money-making initiatives feeding on people’s nostalgia for the past. Although this is in part why I’m here, the band still seem vital and tighter than ever. James Allan is the frontman he’s always been: enigmatic, down to earth, strong yet vulnerable. Between songs Allan speaks modestly of how praise leaves him feeling uneasy, touring life and The Beatles vs Simple Minds. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries in the late noughties UK indie scene, the songs sound as current as ever and the band still possess the same energy that they did a decade ago. The crowd is just as hooked, with strangers hugging, arms wrapped around each other. Geraldine and Go Square Go see the crowd hit fever pitch, lyrics sung back at the group like football chants.
It’s easy to forget the power of Glasvegas’ sound. Huge and atmospheric, it conjures up bleak landscapes that you can’t help but get lost in. They offer drama and euphoria in equal measure.
As they leave the stage, cries for an encore are louder than ever. Having played through the entirety of their debut, choice cuts from elsewhere are brought out for the finale. Tonight may not be anything groundbreaking, but it’s a show which brings back special memories. Judging by the fervour of tonight’s crowd, the majority in the room tonight feel the same: the perfect chance to reflect on one of the great Scottish albums of the 21st Century.