Glasvegas, House of Dolls
On arrival at the Mandela Hall, ATL spots a few parents bidding their children "Adieu!" as the skinny versions of themselves march en-mass into teenage poster-boy band Twin Atlantic's gig in the Speakeasy (upstairs from the Mandela). After their youthful heads dip over the horizon, the parents dust down their moth-eaten denim, and join a varying array of vintage for Glasvegas in the Mandela Hall.
Our first point of entry tonight comes from Dublin lad rockers House of Dolls. They swagger up the M1 with all the beer-swilled intent of stealing our boy's minds and our women's hearts. However, the only evident burglary on offer is that of our audience's time. Their faux rock and roll limps awkwardly between the Primal Scream 'rock and roll' era few fell in love with, and a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with no ignition. They do little to impress or engage the paper-thin crowd that make it down early tonight.
Two and a half years ago Glasvegas laid siege to the Spring and Airbreak, touring one of the most anticipated and hyped albums of 2008. Live they were ramshackle, charming and vital, in print they were polarised, and little did they care. In 2011 they return a flatulent pastiche off what has come before. Second album Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\ is a pompous attempt at a stadium rock album that sacrifices the classic songwriting of the first album for a bloated phoned-in record with very few discernible tunes.
When touring a second album, especially one as half baked as this, it is always advisable for the band to ease their audience in to new material. This general rule of thumb is ignored by the Glaswegian four piece as they ham fistedly play six of their first seven songs from their second record into their set, resulting in a bored, restless crowd, many of whom had any early enthusiasm sucked out of them by a poor choice of setlist.
James Allan has never been known as the best vocalist, but his quivering and sincere tone carried him through those out of tune notes, and it was quite endearing three years ago. Tonight his singing is poor without reprieve, older songs like 'Flowers and Football Tops, renowned for their beautiful street poetry and imagery, are transformed into karaoke. The same goes for highlight of the night, 'Daddys Gone', the only real song to get a unified reaction. It's the equivalent of taking an horrendous, life-changing beating, just to get a peck on the cheek at the end of it.
The only positive to come out of tonight is that Glasvegas new drummer is great. Her enthusiasm was infectious, it's just a pity that it isn't shared by her bandmates. Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\ has been available for a month, more than enough time for fans to get to know and love the record. There is absolutely no sign of this tonight - couple this with a generally lacklustre performance, and you have one of the most disappointing gigs of the year. Tonight has more in common with 'Heartbreak' than it does 'Euphoria'.