Fucked Up, Titus Andronicus and Metz - SWG3, Glasgow, Tue 28 May 2013
A sweaty, impassioned and powerful triple-bill of North American rock acts
Titus Andronicus have had a rough day ahead of their show in one of Glasgow's most lugubriously located venues: two blown tyres on the A1 left them waiting hours for a tow and only sneaking their equipment in through the side door at around 9.30pm. So it's up to tour mates Fucked Up to step into the breach and take the night's middle slot, following a powerful instrumental onslaught by fellow Canadians Metz.
If you're likely to know anything about Fucked Up live shows, it's that frontman Damian 'Pink Eyes' Abraham likes to get down among his people – and tonight he doesn't disappoint, spending no more than about two minutes of the entire set on the stage. It takes about the same length of time before the shirt is off and he's in the crowd, dispensing sweaty hugs, high fives and photo poses and receiving the same in return, together with an audience member's gift of 'the best cheese in Scotland', which he seems delighted with.
His attentions aren't limited to the joyously pogoing front rows, either – he gets all over the place, reassuring the uncertain among us that despite bearlike appearance and raucous screaming, he's really quite harmless (in fact, the only danger here is that of being garrotted by his mic cable as he dashes about the room). A great spectator sport in the early stages of the set is watching surly, burly Glaswegian blokes nodding implacably along to the band, then bristling as someone touches them on the back, only to turn around and be confronted of with the grinning face and outstretched arms of the lead singer.
Abraham is a charismatic frontman and no mistake – maybe even too charismatic. While it never packs less than a satisfying hardcore punch, at times it can feel like the contribution of the other four members of the band is just a steadily pounding backdrop for his theatrics. That said, they're still a cut above your average punk rock guitar-botherers, and Abraham's lyrics mix just the right amount of angsty teen outsider appeal with straight-up 'tude. Material from the new album they're recording 'right now' sounds promising and politicised, while 'Running on Nothing' and 'The Other Shoe' from 2011 rock opera David Comes to Life form the energetic and emotive high points.
It's not an act many bands would like to follow, but Jersey five-piece Titus Andronicus make a damn good go of it, frontman Patrick Stickles' frustrations with the day's events showing in his belligerent mood (sarky comments about record labels and gig curfews abound). Touritis seems to have got the better of his hoarse vocal cords, leaving some lines rather flat, but testament to the band's quality is what a great show they put on anyway, in the 40-or-so minutes available to them. This is melodic punk rock at its best, pulled off with the amazing knack of making it sound simple and obvious – without being simple and obvious at all. Titus love a good riff (in fact, pushed for time, Stickles insists on squeezing in a particularly awesome one from a song they don't have time to play) but there's a solid foundation of interesting songwriting below such flourishes and an impassioned urgency at the beating heart of these songs.