Union of Knives - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - Glasgow
Electro-rock trio "Union of Knives" gamely give the genre a couple of healthy thumping tunes, and just about manage to electrify this sold-out audience. Though it is quite a feat to nearly squander a home advantage in the city's most atmospheric (small) live venue.
In their defence, the assembled mishmash of punters were likely a little disoriented by the peculiar off-key and hitch-ridden set from support act Bigface.
Blazing strobe flashes introduce the headline band with two front-men, both lacking much star quality. Long-time Glasgow scenester Chris Gordon performs most of the vocal duties with a kind of 'Dad-at-a-disco' brass neck, living the dream. Fair play, though the dynamic does wander a little with the constantly shifting focus.
At least backroom-boy Dave McClean knows his way round a sequencer, and doles out the rhythmic drama. Trouble is, the confident swagger of the beats isn't always matched by some of the lyrics, especially on their live staple "I Decline". Second singer Craig Grant even delivers the unimaginative couplets with schoolboy sheepishness. Elsewhere in the somewhat direction-free set the murky synths try to cover-up the nihilistic Ivor Cutler-y 'nonsense verse' on parts of "Operated Upon".
"Infant Eyes", lifted from last year's "Operated Upon EP", is the first glimpse of honest humanity tonight. Squelching keyboards and some Who-tastic powerchords get the heads nodding at least.
Union of Knives have been touring their LP "Violence and Birdsong" all over the UK, and into western Europe. The loyal fanbase gathered along the way are in attendance, but you'd struggle to know it from the mostly static audience, desperate to do some proper dancing.
Chris struts around the stage looking like he means it, and they certainly sound Superdome big, but tonight they struggle to connect in this little venue. Too much flash and energy going right over the heads of their fans. Because King Tuts is full of fans, drawn in by great marketing, flyposting, street teams and mobile blogs. All the modern techniques put to good effect. But no one is moving yet. Possibly some are tired from attending last night's gig, which the singer mentions as if to say "you should have been here last night, we were good then".
No doubt sensing the lack of enthusiasm, Union of Knives do finally deliver a tune worthy of their atmospherics and light show. New single "Evil Has Never" batters out of the stage and takes on all comers. A basic melody and inoffensive lyric is simply driven into the brain by an incessant hammering beat. Robot rock with a lonely heart. Involuntary head movements and memories of big nights at Slam rush back and the crowd is finally moving. It's fleeting, and it is as good as it gets tonight.
You can visit Union of Knives official website here.
"Violence and Birdsong" is available at Amazon.co.uk