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Modern Baseball, SWG3, Glasgow

  • Published in Live

Before Modern Baseball even graced the stage of this Glaswegian warehouse, support from Thin Lips and The Superweaks (and likely The Pooches who I unfortunately missed) cemented the house party atmosphere, that feeling of friends congregated in a sweaty basement to enjoy live music and each other's company. The jovial crowd interaction and fuzz-laced music only served to highlight this ambience on the path to the performance.

Embarking on a tour without frontman Brendan Lukens (who stayed in Philadelphia to focus on self-care and recuperation) was a bold move on the part of this quartet, but a commendable one, as fans' enjoyment would not be delayed, and it strikes me as an admission that all members are and should be on an equal footing. In that other acts may replace a drummer with a replacement without question, but quickly abandon ship should that charismatic lead be absent.

Regardless, the performed an expansive and endearing set of the emotive pop rock anthems which have garnered them such an international following. Whilst their sound can be uninspiring at times on record, the passion with which the band delivered their performance, and how this was reflected and amplified by an energetic crowd, ensured that the show was a thoroughly enjoyable one.

The heart of Modern Baseball's craft is undoubtedly the impact of the honest lyrics, elevated by the music that the dance with. Missing Lukens' presence and delivery was somewhat of a loss to the quality, but again the gusto of the crowd dwarfed any shortcomings on the part of the band, as the back and forth was invigorating.

The final third of the set began with a cluster of solo acoustic tracks from primary replacement vocalist Jake Ewald, with crowd joining him in the rendition of both the lyrics and the melodies. This lull helped to increase the power of the final straight by contrast, as the band were joined onstage by various members of the support acts. The final duo of the raucous 'Your Graduation' and an unexpected cover of The Killers' 'When You Were Young' brought the night to a glowing end, although expanding the short snippet of 'Seven Nation Army' into a full blown cover would've been perfection.

Overall, despite the swearing and alcohol, the show held a "family friendly" vibe, perhaps that would be the musical kind rather than the nuclear kind. Showcasing their art from humble beginnings to Holy Ghost, Modern Baseball and friends (including all in attendance) had a pleasant Thursday night, and just maybe that claim that Glasgow is their second favourite city was actually sincere.


Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band, Stereo, Glasgow

  • Published in Live

Recommended by a friend of a friend, and preceded by several listens to most recent record Instigator, I always felt like I should be more acquainted with the music of Kevin Devine. Accompanied by The Goddamn Band, his latest performance in Glasgow confirmed that suspicion beyond any doubt. 

Whilst the enjoyment of bands such as Modern Baseball has always been the taste of my companion for the night more than myself, the hints of bands such as The Xcerts and Manchester Orchestra are more than welcome to my ears, with all three of those artists sharing musical ancestry with Mr Devine & Friends. Additionally, the undeniable vein of political discontent running through the performance was particularly enthralling for me, although it didn't seem to spark a tangible fire in the audience, rendering the night "deceptively political" at best. 

As a relative newcomer to The Main Man, the night's expansive 21 track set was a whirlwind tour of Devine's craft. From the solemn and solo opening of 'Ballgame' to the frenetic run from 'I Could Be With Anyone' through 'No History' via 'Bubblegum' and others, the tracks just kept coming, and they were all delivered as if additional pieces on the way to completing a perfect jigsaw image of the night's musical landscape. Aside from the opener, a rendition of Bad Books' 'It Never Stops' and closer 'I Was Alive Back Then' provided respite and downbeat touchstones throughout the energetic onslaught of track after track after track. Most notably, the penultimate track and evident crowd favourite 'Brother's Blood' was delivered with jarring emotive power as Devine stepped back from the microphone to allow his impassioned delivery to blend with the crowd's, with hair-raising results.

Littered between the emotional peaks and troughs of the vast list of songs was endearing and genuine thanks and crowd interaction. From discussing previous visits to the city, and attempting to remember venue names, to telling confessions about song inspirations (namely how the likes of 'No Time Flat' and 'Nobel Prize' remain relevant in this time of political turmoil), Devine was nothing short of absolutely lovely throughout. 

Ultimately, having watched in awe at the outpouring of music and emotion, my familiarity with this artist has been drastically increased, and will no doubt expand in future weeks as I explore the darkest depths of his back catalogue online. Aside from holding some deeper internal revelation about the rediscovering the beauty of new music, the show was simply thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to considering myself a fan of Kevin Devine from February 1st 2017 onwards. 

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