It is Good Friday in Glasgow and there’s a certain spring-like feeling in the air. Outside King Tut’s people queue up for this gig by local-(ish!) heroes Dictator, who have sold the venue out some time ago.
First up are “Liverpool but actually main London” band Sterling Press. A four-piece led by Marlon, who alternates between bass guitar and a keyboard bassnote generator during the seven or so song set, they quickly win over the growing audience inside with their unique and slightly eccentric take on indie-rock.
A melding of the spikier parts of Blur (guitars by Ed and Greg are very Coxon-esque at times), the wide-eyed rush of early Arctic Monkeys along with some Jarvis meets Damon lyrics, the whole package sounds pretty darn good. The second song in has a very annoying but catchy chorus, several tracks have dialogue samples presumably triggered by the bassnote generator or possibly the drummer (Ivien), and the stand-out track is probably the now released ‘Plastic Bag’. Recommended.
Dictator are originally from Livingston, West Lothian, and have brought quite a strong local fanbase over with them. Dressed in Devo-type matching white boilersuits, they start with a fairly low-key track but it is patently obvious this audience loves them, with choruses being sung back from the very start. BM recognises several of the tracks from previous live showings (‘Candlemaker Row’, ‘Hide and Seek’) but there are some newer ones as well, as befits a band that is fast developing beyond the initial EP and sundry remixes. A four-piece, with singer Michael also using keyboards/piano, they are joined latterly by a brass section (although by this time BM is so far back into the bar area it is impossible to see how many they number…).
In between blasting out the music there is a lot of fun to be had with this lot. Mid-way through the set (before the track ‘Rubik’s Cube’ is played) there is a “hunt the Rubik’s Cube” contest and then a “who can do them fastest” contest, with prizes promised afterwards – there is also a Rod Stewart style kicking of balls (well beach balls) into the audience and a mass singalong during ‘Enough is Enough’.
With what seems like a magic ingredient in the water currently in West Lothian, this band delivers music of the ages, from the heart, with several tracks referencing traditional Scottish folk riffs while others delve into what sounds like Cohen or Brel, especially in the Michael’s vocals – and a whole lot of soul! Catch them during their continuing ascendancy, you won’t regret it.