The View: Picture House, Edinburgh, 12th Feb 2009
It's hard not to admire The View. They certainly have their flaws. Their records are, at best, ramshackle indie, spawned from a feigned belief that anyone could do 'Up the Bracket'. They also have a cockiness in completely opposing correlation to their level of talent, imagination and ambition as a band. And of course, none of them seem to have the ability to make any sentence comprehensible in their fiercely Dundonian tones that resemble Rab C. Nesbitt going through a blender whilst Runrig are played backwards on the oldest, most Tennant's Super stained turntable imaginable.
Yet despite all this, they've grabbed hold of a nation's attention. And who's to say they haven't earnt it? They sell the number of records most of their peers can only dream of, and could fill most venues in Scotland, bar the SECC or Barrowlands. Yet, here they are, touring for the umpteenth time in the last 12 months, taking in, not for the first time, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and, of course, their hometown, Dundee, when most bands of their stature would do the ABC and screw the rest of the nation. No, The View do seem to actually care about their fans. And it's a feeling reciprocated thoroughly throughout their Edinburgh gig at the recently refurbished Picture House.
The near 30 minute wait at the bar for a drink is unsurprising in a venue rammed to its newly polished rafters in polo-shirted youths, chancing their luck for a beer, and generally succeeding. The smell of hairdressers is bewildering, and it's only when the band come on I realise why. I'm at the back, yet can see everything. These 15-year-old fans of rock and roll come up to my nose, and their hair product abounds. Who knew fans of The View were so well groomed?
They love it though. Even before the band come on, the anticipation of hundreds of drunk Scots teenagers was near terrifying. Every time a roadie set foot on stage, a guitar was tuned or harmonica microphone was checked, cheers and applause abounded. Then the madness came, once Kyle and the boys took to the stage with chirpy abandon.
Trying their best to match their heroes, heard on the same soundystem before the gig, The View will never have the songs, the politics or the respect of The Clash or The Specials that these young fans have only heard vague rumours about. Instead, they steal that essential punk element in these and try to harness it to their own purposes for fun and entertainment. And it works to some effect, with numerous outbursts of 'The View are on fire' as evidence to the claim.
It does get tiresome though. The playing stays basic throughout, with Falconer often clumsy in his strum, and there seems to be a lack of willingness to attempt any note beyond what each fan has heard a hundred times on record before. Same Jeans? Same songs more like.
Both band and audience stay positive throughout though, and most seem to have a better time interpreting the between song chat that berates the police and praises the groupies. I think. Forgive them the cliches though, it's what makes them. Thankfully unpretentious, but perhaps just as purposeless?