Glasvegas - King Tut's, Glasgow, Wed 27 Mar 2013
The rock'n'roll quartet perform secret, Beatles-themed gig as The Savage Stage Bells
In 1965, a distressed John Lennon penned the lyrics, 'Help! I need somebody! Help and not just anybody!' over the difficulties of coping with his rapid rise to fame.
Over half a century later and in the belly of King Tut's, James Allan, adorned in a bright yellow tunic now synonymous with The Beatles, bawls out Lennon's lyrics through a wry smile.
Since Glasvegas were hurled into the limelight five years ago, Allan has been no stranger to controversy and (not so) personal issues; his smile is perhaps an ironic acknowledgement of the song choice.
Glasvegas begin tonight with the surprising and comical decision to support themselves. Dressed as The Beatles and billed anagrammatically as The Savage Stage Bells, the foursome made their way through four of the Liverpudlian's numbers before reappearing in their normal leather-embellished gear later on.
Excitement for the band has most definitely eased off in the two years since they were dropped by Columbia, a understandable decline; those who gulped down the debut album would've certainly felt the katzenjammer of Glasvegas' sophomore effort Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\. Containing sweet tastes here and there but ultimately lacking the potency of their first release, it served to be more divisive than something to be savoured.
Fortunately tonight's set, including new single 'I'd Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You), is a bold showcase of the band's recaptured vigour. The powerful trio of 'It's My Own Cheating Heart...','Geraldine' and 'Daddy's Gone' inevitably receive their enthusiastic welcomes, but it is the envelopment of 'Ice Cream Van's all-encompassing organ crescendo, drummer Joanna Longren's heart-stabbing pounds punctuating the lead singer's howls during 'Lots Sometimes' and a matured Allan thanking DF concerts' Geoff Ellis for 'believing in them when no one else would' which are most striking.
Like them or loathe them, two facets about Glasvegas are undeniable; Allan is a captivating and charismatic songwriter who possesses greater depth than he is given credit for, and Glasvegas' self-titled debut album was, for many, a poetic hallmark of 2008.
Many subscribe to the view that Allan's personal difficulties have since marred his songwriting ability, others to the suggestion that the band's ship has since sailed. Through all of the drug overdoses, disappearing acts and white-attired rebirths, the underlying question on everyone's lips is whether Glasvegas still firmly grasp the white-hot sun they held five years ago.
It is a question that, on the basis of an exceptional set which is as modest as it is methodical, a primed, clear-headed Glasvegas need no help in answering.
On Sat 20 Apr, in support of Record Store Day and their local record shops Glasvegas will perform an instore set at Love Music, Dundas Street, Glasgow (5pm) and at Avalanche, Grassmarket, Edinburgh (2.30pm).