Live Review: Glasvegas with the Ceremonies at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 16th February 2014

By on Tuesday, 18th February 2014 at 2:00 pm

When I started writing about music in 2009, my focus was on pop and dance, with minimal intrusion from rock. Nearly 5 years on, I know my musical tastes have changed significantly, because I now find myself moving away from dance and diving headlong into heavier stuff. While Glasvegas initially was famous for ‘Geraldine’ and ‘Daddy’s Gone’ from their self-titled debut on Columbia Records, both songs that might be reasonably classed as lite rock, the Scottish four-piece proved Sunday night at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (their first night on their current North American tour) that more often than not, they’re actually a huge-sounding rock powerhouse that you might not have guessed listening to them on record and if you’ve had your own reservations about the band based on their albums, I recommend you go see them live. ASAP.

The opening act for the night were Los Angeles brothers The Ceremonies, who also brought three touring band members to round out their sound. I want to give mad props to the band’s manager, who went out of her way to buy sodas before the show started for all the underage fans who were stuck outside of the venue because staff wouldn’t let them into the place until nearly an hour after the supposed start time of the support. Because I’d brought my underage cousin’s daughter as my guest for the night, I was stood outside with the rest of them and let me tell you, just like every other night in Washington this winter, it was very cold and frankly inhumane for an all-ages venue to treat minors like that. But, let me get on with describing their performance…

It turned out a lot of those minors were there only for the Ceremonies and swiftly departed the venue once they were finished. From that, I can only guess they must have a massive teenage following here in the States. As you might expect, the brothers Cook – older brother Matthew and twins Mark and Michael – have the gift of sibling harmonisation, and a few songs early on in their opening set took advantage of this, with them sounding vaguely Beach Boys-ish. One of the brothers was wearing a cardigan. However, the rest of the set was loud and raucous, which seemed more in line with another brother who had his shirt open and wore chains ala Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and this brother and the third one were wearing leather trousers and complaining how cold it was for LA boys to be out here on the East Coast. That’s part of touring the big ol’ U.S. of A. Better start learning to suck it up, boys!

‘Land of Gathering’ sounds New Wave meets the Strokes, while ‘Ballroom Bones’ has almost a doo wop vocal flavour paired with a stomping rock rhythm. MTV here in America even has a dedicated artist page on them and the Huffington Post has already interviewed them, so I guess the powers that be must think they’re going to be massive at some point. I will give them that their stage patter is rather charming, with the Steven Tyler-esque one saying that after they were done playing, they’d be available to talk or play patty cake with fans. Snort. Right…

If the British tabloids are to be believed, from reports of his disappearance prior to the 2009 Mercury Prize ceremony to his living in a hotel in Glasgow instead of his own house, frontman James Allan of Glasvegas is a bit of a diva. (Then again, so are most frontmen of the biggest bands in the world – the Pete Dohertys and the Liam Gallaghers – right?) Having never met the man personally, I have no idea either way, but he did all he could to dismiss this false impression being trotted out the media. Or maybe he has turned over a new leaf? I was taken aback by how many times he thanked punters for coming out to see them and not just support them, but the whole indie music scene at large. I can’t remember the last time hearing anyone saying how grateful he/she was for the fans and speaking on behalf of his/her indie music brethren. Cheers for that, brother in arms.

What made this more starkly obvious was that he said these things between when Glasvegas were simply wailing on tracks like ‘The World is Yours’ and ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ and I thought the roof of the place might come off from the sheer loudness of the racket they were making. (No wonder when they were soundchecking and we were in the upstairs bar, we could feel the floor beneath us vibrating.) Cute were the Scots who came out in droves, cheering the band on in Scottish Gaelic; I had no idea what they were saying but Allan would yell back at them in the same tongue, which only served to positively rile up them more. Older songs ‘Ice Cream Van’ and ‘Flowers and Football Tops’, the latter performed solo by Allan with just his voice and electric guitar, showcased his powerful voice while not needing to blow our ears out. While their 2013 album on BMG ‘Later…When the TV Turns to Static’ has not had the kind of commercial success their first two LPs garnered, Glasvegas should still be considered a major live draw and the deafening applause that accompanied the band as left the stage Sunday night is proof of that.

After the cut: Glasvegas’ set list.

Glasvegas’ Set List:
Later…When the TV Turns to Static
It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes You Cry
Euphoria, Take My Hand
Secret Truth
The World is Yours
Dream Dream Dreaming
Ice Cream Van
Go Square Go
Flowers and Football Tops
I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)
Daddy’s Gone
Lots Sometimes

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5 Responses

5:59 pm
19th February 2014

I don’t think the scots were speaking gaelic, James doesn’t speak gaelic but when the Glaswegian accent gets going it is completely incomprehensible especially when coupled with a few drinks.
Gaelic was mostly isolated to the island and upper highlands a while ago it is getting more widespread but it isn’t normal for the Glasgow area and certainly not for James’ generation.

6:02 pm
19th February 2014

Quite possible. It was crowded and loud! 🙂

7:20 pm
20th February 2014

he would have just been speaking glasweigian (which has it’s own words) he doesn’t speak Gaelic, also its my own cheating heart that makes ME cry, good read tho 🙂

12:33 am
21st February 2014

Ah ok – thanks for explaining. Either way, I could not decipher. And thank you 🙂

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