Cardiff Barfly, 23.9.08

Viva Glasvegas ! What a great headline for the band that is definitely flavour of the month at the moment, however I'm still not entirely convinced that all the hoopla is warranted. However hats off to them for fulfilling their obligation to play the 300 capacity Barfly in Cardiff, a commitment I guess they made before their album entered the top 40 just behind Metallica. It was also refreshing to see them drinking at the pub across the venue, which even gave me the opportunity of checking with lead singer James Allan if I had enough time to get another round in before they were due to play - I
doubt whether I will be afforded such luxury when Metallica play the local enormodome.

Anyway onto the gig. The venue was obviously rammed and an expectant air hung over the fairly diverse crowd. The band took to the stage
resplendent in Raybans and leathers and immediately went into the album opener 'Flowers and Football Tops'. Unfortunately due to the low stage, depth of crowd and her fairly small stature I was unable to actually glimpse drummer Caroline McKay, but by the thunderous backbeat being provided she seemed to be doing a sterling job. James Allan is an able front man and appeared to be sporting a Joe Strummer style quiff. Whilst band members wearing shades indoors usually make me think they are total cocks, it soon became apparent that there was good reason. Half way through the song the lighting rig, neatly positioned behind the band, was switched on
and I can only presume it was designed for a much bigger venue as it nearly microwaved the first 10 rows of the audience.

swans 1 c*rdiff 0

Next track 'Lonesome Swan' was pleasant enough, and was swiftly followed by 'It's My Own Cheating Heart' although in truth the band should come with subtitles as their Glaswegian accents are so thick that I found a lot of it indecipherable. Also I'm not sure a rock band should ever have the lime 'Liar, liar pants on fire' in any of their songs.

Caroline McKay's thumping beat welcomed in 'S.A.D. Light', but whilst the quality of their song are undeniable, and they are obviously a competent and professional band, I couldn't help feeling that at present they seem to lack many anthems that can get the crowd going. Consequently the vast majority of the audience were nearly motionless throughout the first half of the set. 'Polmont on My Mind' was also note perfect and highlighted the Jesus & Mary Chain wall-of-sound they use to such good effect. It will be interesting to see if they employ the same technique on their rumoured Christmas album.

swim away

The highlight of the evening for me was the
blistering rendition of 'Geraldine' that followed. This is a truly great track and apparently relates the story of a social worker who gave up her
job to follow the band about and sell merchandising at their gigs. Whatever the story, it gave the crowd their chance to come alive and shout along, and showed why Alan Mcgee dubbed Glasvegas the 'best Scottish band for 20
years'. The twin guitars of the Allan boys are perfectly intertwined during the song, and things continued in a similar vein with 'Go Square Go', their debut single from 2006, that allowed the crowd to indulge in a football terrace type chant of 'Here We Fucking Go!'. 'Ice Cream Van' was their penultimate number and seemed to slow things down for a moment, before they closed out the night with belting 'Daddy Gone'. Nine songs only, but the crowd departed content in the knowledge that they are unlikely to see them so up-close-and-personal again, as I'm sure the next time they play the Principality it will be in a venue with a capacity ten times that of the Barly.

Words Bones, pix Steve B