Kurt Vile & The Violators, with Woods - Stereo, Glasgow, Tue 6 Sep 2011 (4 stars)

Philadelphia native’s heartland rock lineage pokes through

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Kurt Vile & The Violators, with Woods - Stereo, Glasgow, Tue 6 Sep 2011

Kurt Vile, Photography | Shawn Brackbill

The Kurt Vile tour package comes with an opening act equal to the main event. New York spectral folk combo Woods are friends and associates of Vile - frontman Jeremy Earl owns Woodsist records, the label which released Vile’s first two records. It’s sublime stuff, like the luminous ‘Pushing Onlys’ from new album Sun and Shade. Earl’s ethereal falsetto is tethered to this world by visceral melodies and fuzzy guitars rooted in a pastoral folk aesthetic.

Vile arrives on stage solo to perform an endearingly ramshackle rendition of ‘Blackberry Song’ from his 2009 album Childish Prodigy. He’s not much of a raconteur but he knows how to hold a room. By the time his band The Violators join in, there’s an expectation that it could get gorgeously messy. They race through ‘Jesus Fever’ from his most recent album Smoke Ring for My Halo, but it’s still loose and woozy. The hypnotic ‘Ghost Town’ is like hearing a lost Velvet Underground track playing on an old radio behind a closed door – enchanting. Metronomic stomper ‘Freak Train’ brings the room back into focus. At times the Springsteen and Bob Seger comparisons seem insubstantial; at others the Philadelphia native’s heartland rock lineage pokes through.

The audience offers a hearty but curiously brief applause after the last song: a stripped-down version of ‘Peeping Tomboy’, performed solo on guitar. A shame, really: it’s a long way to come not to receive the encore his set so richly deserves.

Kurt Vile - "Jesus Fever" official video

Kurt Vile & the Violators

Sonic Youth-endorsed singer/guitarist from Philadelphia. That's his real name, by the way.

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