This was very emotional – several thousand people huddled at the Bandstand, and you can say what you want about the business model here, let BM just say it raised a lot of money for long term homelessness projects. So in between the insights about Social Bite, this was a great gig, if maybe heavily distracted by the loss of one Scott Hutchison. BM would just like to give one personal anecdote which attests to Scott’s humility – BM and companion went to the Mastersystem gig at The Quay last summer and also the following night instore free gig at Mono. Both gigs were really amazing (and so is the album, one of 2018’s best) and on leaving Mono BM spotted SH having a post-gig ciggy and opined “Well I think you are improving after last night” – he took it in the way it was meant, laughed, shook BM’s hand and thanked us for showing up. Enough said.
So there were other acts appearing on this cold night (although last year was apparently a fuck of a lot colder!) but BM is reviewing….
The Twilight Sad – they appeared as an acoustic duo but still built up a good head of steam with a couple of very oldies from ‘Last Summer’, a newie from the forthcoming album and let BM just say that her fave Scottish band will be having a massive year in 2019, with headline gigs, Cure support and that much anticipated new album – enough said.
The Frightened Rabbit reappearance was of course also much anticipated and BM was as nervous as anyone that it might fall flat, but what we got was triumphant over the odds, a reimagining of a set which SH might have wanted, a valediction, a transcendence and maybe a rebirth. The use of multiple guest vocalists was a masterstroke. So we started with Ross Clark (aka Fiskur, a fine act in his own right) doing toe tapping fave ‘Old Fashioned’, immediately setting the audience at ease. Another ‘Organ Fight’ track ‘Good Arms’ followed and it was the smiles on the faces of Grant and the other Frabbits which really struck BM, this is a band who still like to play and still want to prove something. Other bands have survived terminal disaster, and who knows what will happen but for tonight this was maybe a necessary part of a process, private but also in public, and BM felt privileged to be part of it, in the dark, in the park, about to kip down for charity.
This was truly a night of surprises, so when Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro rocked up in some outsized poncho with a short back and sides things got a wee surreal, as BM thinks SH might have been guffawing at this had he been there. ‘Modern Leper’ was incredible, and then they went into ‘Dancing In The Dark’, “one of Scott’s favourite songs” – well, there you go, BM has a penchant for Springsteen as well but this was quite something. The band held it together, no more than that, they were immense during this, surely the most difficult gig any combo has had to fucking play this year.
There then followed another masterstroke – Kathryn Joseph had played earlier (due to logistics BM had only seen the end but she is fucking brilliant – hullo KJ xxxx). So she completely nailed ‘Get Out’ and my god it was transcendent, cathartic and truly inspired. There were tears shed, BM among them. Just even thinking about this, weeks later, makes BM think this could be the live performance of the year, not in the circumstances anyone could have foreseen but she fucking had us, in these moments…
She went on to also nail ‘Heads Roll Off’ as BM and the rest of us melted….
Given the agreed format it would always be down to James Graham of The Sad to finish things off, first with ‘Be Less Rude’ and then the closing ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ – the Sad have been covering this for a good while and this is probably the best form of therapy for suicide/death (can’t believe am writing this still) available. Such a big weight to bear but such a fine performance, can’t really say anything more, any reviewer edge or schtick completely irrelevant and exhausted by this time.
The event ended with a surprise Biffy set – exactly what was needed. BM has never been a BC hardcore follower but to hear the songs, stripped down, and at close quarters was really something to behold. These international rock stars from Kilmarnock could easily have stayed at home tonight but here they were, in the cold Kelvingrove night, entertaining us, and BM thinks they really enjoyed it… A seven song “greatest hits” without the massive firepower but including ‘The Captain’ and ending with ‘Bubbles’, it was all the audience could ask for before they kipped down in the park…