After more than two years, this past weekend Glasvegas returned to Seattle for a live gig. In the intervening 26 months, this band from Scotland toured itself around the world and nearly to extinction, took a break, replaced its drummer, moved to L.A., recorded a new album and now are back to touring.
See my review of the band's previous shows in Seattle HERE (April 2009) and HERE (January 2009).
On the same night that U2 played to a football stadium sized crowd across town, Glasvegas took the stage in the intimate setting of the storied Seattle club known back in the day as Moe's Mo' Rockin' Cafe'- and now known as Neumos (get it?) - to what I would call about a 2/3 full house. And this suited me just fine. I'd much rather be at a gig where I can be really close up to a good band for less than $20. And hey, as much as I like U2 - we saw their 360 Tour up in Vancouver back in 2009 - unless you're willing to literally pay thousands of dollars to get close to the stage, you might as well be watching it on TV or DVD.
Anyway, I've been anticipating this Glasvegas gig for a while. I really enjoyed their previous two outings in Seattle, and I've listened to their new disc plenty since it came out earlier this spring and appreciate some of the changes from their first record. Good stuff and the band is definitely one of my modern favorites.
You can read my review of Euphoric Heartbreak by clicking HERE. You can also see pictures of the June 2011 gig near in my set of rock pictures HERE on Flickr.
Oddfellows. Aside from a wonderful meal, we also met the drummer from Glasvegas, Jonna Lofgren, as she happened in to pick up a to-go order. We said hello, thanked her and Glasvegas for coming to Seattle and a engaged in a little other banter and then she was off. A nice person.
(Left: Glasvegas on stage in Seattle)
After a round of pre-gig drinks in the adjacent bar as the opening bands played their sets, our group headed into the venue to await the main event.
Stationed very close to the stage, we were in perfect position to see the band stroll out under the atmospheric tones of the opening song from their new album Euphoric Heartbreak called Pain Pain Never Again. The as-expected lineup consisted of singer and main man James Allan all in white attire and shades, guitarist Rab Allan in black, bassist Paul Donoghue in black and new drummer Lofgren at the back of the stage behind her stand up drum kit wearing...you guessed it...all black. After a few words thanking the crowd for being there, the band burst into the song The World Is Yours for a high energy start to things. We were now officially rocking.
Glasvegas proceeded to run through an excellent set of songs from their new album and their debut - with Geraldine, Euphoria Take My Hand, Lots Sometimes and Shine Like Stars as highlights for me. The sound system seemed dialed in well to my ears. Lets put it this way, I had no problem hearing each instrument and Allan's voice. No one of them overpowered the other. And, at least for me, it wasn't too loud that my ears rang later. That's pretty good.
In terms of performance, the previous two times I've seen Glasvegas, while impressed, I felt there was just a little something missing...a little spark or extra dose of energy...that kept them from really blowing the crowd away. Sure, good shows, but...something. Not this time. Allan and gang were on their game big time. Lots of energy was coming off the stage as Allan enthusiastically belted out his songs, the guitarist and bassist moved around the stage and the drummer hit the skins hard while moving around behind the kit. This was Glasvegas in "full go" form. Also present this time around was a healthy set of talk to and with the crowd. I like a band that is confident enough and energetic enough to talk with the crowd, and there was no lack of interaction this night. So, between the excellent songs and the now equally impressive performance of them, this easily takes the cake as the best of the three shows I've seen this band perform. (At right: Rab Allan of Glasvegas)
Beyond the general performance, there were several stand out moments in my book:
- One was when Allan said a few words about being in Seattle, referenced Nirvana and then began to sing Come As You Are before ultimately breaking into a scorching version of their own song Euphoria Take My Hand. You can see the Come As You Are section and lead into the next song on video by clicking HERE. (Not a video I took, someone else did.)
- Another was following the encore when Allan admitted they had accidental skipped their song Go Square Go in the main set, joked around with his cousin and guitar player and then struck into the high energy song to make sure everyone got what they wanted. As always with this song, the coda or ending repeat phrase was shouted by the entire crowd. If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, check out the song.
- When they came back out for the encore, the two Allan's took the stage first and did a stripped down version of their song about the sudden and tragic loss of a child called Flowers and Football Tops - featuring only keyboards and vocal. Video of that performance HERE.
- At one point the guy standing next to me yelled out that he had left the U2 show across town to come see Glasvegas. Aside from the fact that this was practically impossible given the time it would take to get from that venue to the one we were in, as well as the fact that the guy saying this was in full Vancouver Canucks gear (giving away that he had really just been watching the Stanley Cup finals nearby)...the comment did inspire James Allan to talk a bit about U2 - all very complimentary and calling them all "very nice guys." To those who don't know, Glasvegas was an opening band for some of the European dates for the U2 360 tour last year and got to know them at that time. Anyway, somebody from the crowd must have asked if James or Rab were "good guys," because Rab, with a laugh, said something like, "oh, yeah, he's a good guy (pointing to James), but I'm just a dick." James agreed, again with a laugh.
- James also informed the crowd that the woman selling the band's merch at the side of the stage was none other than "Geraldine" from their song by that same name. Pointing to the merch table, he said something along the lines of, "over there is Geraldine. When I was unemployed, she helped me get a job. You may recognize her in our next song." (Below: James Allan of Glasvegas)
At any rate, as mentioned, there was a lot of talk from the stage and I liked it. My recollection of the set list was as follows....Intro
Pain Pain, Never Again
The World Is Yours
It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
Shine Like Stars
Whatever Hurts You Through The Night
Come As You Are...into Euphoria, Take My Hand
Ice Cream Van - caught on video HERE
Flowers And Football Tops
Go Square Go
In the end, this was a top show for me. Here's hoping it isn't two years again before this band is back in Seattle. And for all of you who went to U2, I am sure you had a good time reliving past glories with 60,000 of your "closest friends." We did back in 2009 when we saw them. But, on this night, I am pleased to say our crew went to go see the present and future of really good rock and roll in the form of Glasvegas.
NOTE: Pictures displayed in this post were taken by Marc Osborn and not authorized for any use.