Friday, November 26, 2004

The Build-Up Lasted For Days

When it comes time to someday leave Scotland, one of the things I will miss the most is the sheer quantity and quality of concerts that can be found at any point throughout the year. The last few months of 2004 have been especially good...

“But I can't stop listening to the sound/Of two soft voices mended in perfection” – Kings Of Convenience, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Quiet is the New Loud and Riot on an Empty Street are two of the best albums I’ve bought this year. I think we knew from the beginning that this show was going to be special. Eirik from KOC came out first to welcome us and to introduce their support act (Call and Response, a Cocteau-esque band who were quite good) which was refreshingly classy. In the cosy confines of Queen's Hall, KOC’s live interpretation of their music was divine. I mean, it was perfect. The vocal and guitar harmonies were exquisite. The banter between Erlend and Eirik was wonderfully witty (and somewhat unexpected considering the melancholy of their music). And the whole vibe of the show was so warm and fuzzy – I can’t think of another way to describe it. I’ve seen a lot of amazing shows this year, but the boys from Norway put on the concert of the year this night. Sounds like the Scotsman agrees.

Robin Guthrie, The Arches, Glasgow

The Cocteau Twins are one of the all-time greatest bands, and a big part of that can be attributed to the guitar soundscapes created by Robin Guthrie. A shame this show was late Sunday after a long weekend, because my alertness was not quite where it should have been. This was an instrumental set done to film. Probably a wee bit too experimental for my tastes, but great to see the man do his thing in person nonetheless.

“You could have one day of pure and simple happiness” – Scissor Sisters, Barrowlands, Glasgow

Flamboyant costumes, songs about drag queens and “queers on the piers” and two giant dancing scissors on stilts. Not an obvious recipe for one of the most successful bands of the years, but there you have it. And with music sounding like a blender mix of classic Elton John, the Bee Gees and 70’s disco, also not an obvious recipe for music I should like. But I do. And how. To go mainstream and get Glaswegian hardmen dancing to the campiest music I’ve heard – that right there is the epitome of cool.

“It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans” – Keane, Barrowlands, Glasgow

It may not be cool to say it, but I love Keane. I love the music, the voice, the sentiment of the lyrics. But the fans have changed. To be fair, not changed, but expanded. When last I saw them, it was 500 people who really cared about the music. This time it was 2000+, but many of them seemed to be there for the hits and the pints. They were quite happy to chat and throw said pints over the crowd during the tracks with no radio airplay, pissing the rest of us off in the process. A prime example of a band you wish would be less popular and a show that would have been way more fun without the assholes. But that isn’t Keane’s fault.

“Good evening. We’re the Trills. One, two, tree, four” – The Thrills, The Academy, Glasgow

A band suffering the curse of the follow-up album after a successful debut. That’s not to say the new album is bad, just that their first was that good. I didn’t have high expectations, but a full house and positive vibes made for a great time. I daresay the band was even taken aback at the love they were getting. And you just can’t help but like the sun-shiny tunes and the “oo-wah-oo’s” in the chorus.

“So join us…” – Mull Historical Society, QMU, Glasgow

Quirky in a good way, featuring songs as varied as Tobermory Zoo to an ode to the late Dr. David Kelly. Their albums are great, the live show more so. Good old-fashioned enthusiasm from a distinctly Scottish band that may never be known outside of the UK, and not caring a bit.