6Music gig review
Samuel T. Herring from electro-pop poster boys Future Islands got around the early start for his band at the 6 Music Festival by tanning a potent mix of Skol Super and Irn Bru. He’s pretty sure you’re not meant to drink the former but, then, he isn’t the type to back down from a challenge. “It’s, what, only 7 o’clock?” he smiled. “We’re gonna have a good night.”
We may not have been on the same rocket fuel he was, but the audience were with him from the start. Even before THAT dancing kicked into high gear. (A wee YouTube search of the band will illustrate this better than my words ever could...)
New singles, Cave and Ran, from the forthcoming The Far Field album featured early in the set; with Sam’s, one minute crooning style, suddenly replaced by death metal screams the next. Every heavy beat song opener featured a preacher-style testimony, the choruses giving over to Sam’s predatory stalking and finger wagging, with the singer slapping himself on the face and chest throughout. His band may have been back to being the opener tonight, but he meant every single word.
Part of 6Music’s alternative charm is how undefinable their demographic is. It’s a radio station without an apparent remit. They give a platform to contemporary artists on the way up and give more than a wee nod to heritage acts that shaped the current music scene. From a glance about at the people totally losing it as each band hit its peak on Friday night that enigmatic mix was clear as day. Don Letts spinning tracks between sets kept the eclectic vibe going.
Hands up, I had no idea what to expect from Sparks. I’ve actually gone through my life believing they were British. Not a doubt in my mind. But, no…. American. The massive, beefed up rock sound was a total surprise and the energy didn’t wane for one minute. Russell Mael is still bouncing, smiling and ‘gien it laldy’ like he did 40 years ago. Featuring a back-up band of LA based musicians playing in Mini Mansions and Queens of the Stone Age, Sparks are a force to be reckoned with live. Less tinkly and more robust than their records, songs like “The Number One Song in Heaven” and “When do I get to sing my way?” had the crowd bouncing. Bookish jumpered types and bearded indie kinds alike were flailing and singing along to every word. Theatrical and idiosyncratic, yet also surprisingly vital, 20 odd albums into their career. They used the night to announce their forthcoming album Hippopotamus and to showcase new songs, as well as treating us to the most joyous version of “This town aint big enough for the both of us” that you’ll ever hear. New fan alert!
Goldfrapp were top of the bill for the show, though the night felt more like a wee musical exploration than a hierarchy of bands. When your roadie tests out how your shadow is going to look prior to your set, you know you’ve arrived. Alison Goldfrapp took command from the moment she and her ruby red poncho swept onto the old picture house stage. Less vociferous than Future Islands and less humorous than Sparks, Goldfrapp knocked it out of the park with their gloriously whimsy, melodic party style and it was just what Friday night needed. “Come on, Glasgow, I wanna see you move a little more.” Nae bother Alison, hen. The epic staging and 70s glam thumping beats had a mesmeric affect. Groups of young women took to the aisles upstairs in the balcony. New songs like Ocean showcased how Goldfrapp’s sound continues to develop, and with a couple of glittery “bangers” (to borrow a 6Music DJ phrase) like “Strict Machine” and “Ooh La La” to round off the night, the 6Music fans from Glasgow and beyond, sashayed away happily into the Gorbals night.
Gig rating - Five cans out of a Skol six pack.