Glasvegas - HMV Forum, London
With reports of a less-than-vintage performance last night at the Forum, something that even front man James Allan aludes to early on in the set, a second night at the venue surely offered Glasvegas the perfect platform to bounce back. Clearly the band forgot to read the memo as tonight’s set, while not shambolic, was certainly distinctly average and oddly flat at times with only a scattershot selection of highlights.
It probably didn’t help that proceedings got off to a shaky start. Coming on stage slightly later than planned to the French musings of second album opener ‘Pain, Pain, Never Again’, the band get straight into ‘The World Is Yours’ and it’s clear from the off that something isn’t right; the ingredients are all there, but there’s no dinner on the table. What should have been an explosive, passionate start is instead muted as a result of a below-par vocal from James with a succession of missed and strained notes. This filters through to the crowd with nothing more than a polite round of applause and some determined pockets of fist pumps, not the rapturous applause most bands get for a first track of a set.
Perhaps sensing this, James implores the crowd to ‘fucking dance’ for the next track ‘You’ and even if they promptly don’t, things do gradually start to improve; almost as though it’s just taken time to warm up. ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ marks an early peak, with a mass singalong with the crowd given free rein on the verses and seems to add impetus to the set; although it’s not really until an impassioned ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ (four tracks from the end of a brief main set) that everything starts to click, with too many tracks preceding it that, while delivered competently, lack spark – ‘Whatever Hurts You Through The Night’ in particular is plodding when it should be a dark epic.
It’s not all bad news for Glasvegas though. The one consistent spark for them, other than their name in lights on the backdrop, was new drummer Jonna Löfgren. An imposing, animated presence standing behind the drums, we consistently find our attention drifting towards her during the blander moments of the set. She rightly gets the spotlight with a storming solo at the end of ‘Ice Cream Van’ and it’s fair to say we’re a little bit infatuated. In addition, it’s clear that the crowd’s energetic reaction to the start of ‘Geraldine’ means a lot to James, forcing him to just stand, hands on head admiring and galvanises him to hit his stride for a flawless final act to the main set, which culminates in a raucous ‘Go Square Go’, and keeps up the momentum through the encore.
However, it comes all a bit late in the day to fully rescue matters and, if anything, highlights just how disappointing the overall performance was because it showcased just how great they can be. At their best, Glasvegas are a tight, energetic and passionate band which, in turn, feeds into feverish responses from the crowd resulting in memorable nights. This, unfortunately, certainly wasn’t one such night.
PAIN PAIN, NEVER AGAIN
THE WORLD IS YOURS
IT'S MY OWN CHEATING HEART THAT MAKES ME CRY
SHINE LIKE STARS
DREAM DREAM DREAMING
WHATEVER HURTS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT
EUPHORIA, TAKE MY HAND
ICE CREAM VAN
GO SQUARE GO
FLOWERS & FOOTBALL TOPS