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Algiers, Stereo, Glasgow

  • Published in Live


Stereo is nearly full by the time the stage is set for tonight's show with the band’s instruments and four red vertical strip lights. When the lights are dimmed, they provide a feeling both warm and menacing, something that the band will seek to also achieve in the performance of their songs. 

Algiers, touring in support of new album There Is No Year, have been described as post-punk, gospel, soul and experimental noise. They are all and none of these. They manage an original trick of being neither a fusion nor a confusion of the various styles that they draw on. There is an amazing balance in transitions between the beats of a metallic Motown and the angry energetic protest of gospel punk. The lyrics are shot through with both dread and hope. Nothing here is meant to be wholly comfortable.

Lead singer Franklin Fisher’s voice soars then wails on ‘Dispossession’ backed by an almost dissonant chorus from the others. Bassist Ryan Mahan irregularly pops dance moves between keeping a throbbing industrial beat pulsing throughout the proceedings. A lead guitar is swapped for a free-jazz saxophone break. Yet, the set never loses its way. ‘Unoccupied’ is one highlight that gets all the crowd moving. It is a prime example of a great swinging beat that is undershot by industrial noise and '80s synthesizer power chords which the band craft into something both danceable and frightening in equal measure. 

This is music for dislocated times. It has sing-a-long choruses and soul beats flipping into noise breaks and back again. The band have touched an essence of uncertainty in the modern world and the audience can be sure they have heard a bit of the broken truth of it tonight.


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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