Great Scott, January 4, 2009
ARDOR: Glasvegas’s James Allan looked like Joe Strummer and sounded like Bono.
"There's not enough hype in the world for Glasvegas," old reliable hypemonger NME recently proclaimed. But that doesn't mean the magazine and the rest of the British music press aren't trying. Back in 2007, on the Guardian music blog, Creation Records founder (and Oasis discoverer) Alan McGee declared them the most exciting thing he'd heard since the Jesus and Mary Chain. Now it's a battle to see who can drop the most ludicrous hyperbole on the young Glasgow band.
And so a capacity crowd gathered at Great Scott Sunday night ready to have their lives changed. The band — led by singer/guitarist/Joe Strummer look-alike James Allan and rounded out by guitarist Rab Allan (James's cousin), bassist Paul Donoghue, and drummer Caroline McKay (who stands) — kicked off their short set with "Flowers and Football Tops," the first track on their Glasvegas debut and a handy distillation of their sound, with its wall-of-noise guitars, '50s pop melodic simplicity (lots of "whoa-oh-ohs"), and no-frills drums. McKay — whose kit consisted of an oversized tom, a snare, a tambourine, and one cymbal — made Meg White look like Keith Moon, but in a way that served Allan's nursery-rhyme-simple songs. Allan, meanwhile, belted as if he were hoping to sound as much like Strummer as he looked; he ended up closer to the Bono end of the spectrum, his broad Scottish brogue pushed to the heavens by waves of digital delay.
The audience, for the most part, ate it up, singing along with closed-eyes ardor and thanking the band between songs for coming in. A Glasgow transplant looked on like a proud dad and bought a stranger a beer. Not everyone was enamored, however. "It's all a bit much, don't you think?" asked a guy outside the bathroom toward the end of the set. "I saw Echo & the Bunnymen on the Ocean Rain tour, and it wasn't this dramatic."
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