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Friendly Fires / Franz Ferdinand / Chvrches / The Killers

TRNSMT (Sunday 8 July 2018 ()

By • Jul 24th, 2018 • Category: gig reviews

This was BM’s first trip to TRSMT, which calls itself a festival but it really a series of outdoor gigs at Glasgow Green, the apparent replacement for T in the Park after DF Concerts ran out of puff with it after just over 20 years.

The logistics of such a huge undertaking (something like 70,000 people a day latterly) were a nightmare, and when forced to move to a new site near Auchterarder by that pesky gas pipeline at Balado the additional problems of ospreys and a battle with the media (let’s not go into the details of that) DF eventually gave up.

BM last attended TITP in 2014 on the Friday at Balado and loved it, but was aware the whole party “rite of passage” thing had been detracting from the music for years, and headliners were increasingly bland and unadventurous.

And so TRSMT was born, no camping, less chance of drug deaths, and maybe more focus on the music. BM was away during last year’s but it was generally regarded as a success with individual day tickets more the thing than committing to the whole weekend.

An interesting development on this day was that the first 2000 people to go into the front area got a wristband and that was it, the rest of us were behind the barrier, a bit frustrating when at times the front zone was half-empty. BM understands that zoning the crowd is good for security and prevents stampedes, but doesn’t remember hearing any announcements about this in advance. Hmm.

So this year the number of days rose from three to five, and this was the last of these, an interesting prospect of The Killers headlining, with relative locals Chvrches and Franz Ferdinand supporting, also “where have they been?” Friendly Fires.

It was very warm but BM didn’t really see too much of the TiTP levels of excess, although mixed “festival” bill does tend to attract more than the average number of complete dicks to an event like this, but never mind. BM is not going to go music snob – everyone likes their own music, in their own way, so if someone thinks it’s best to try and crowd-surf where no-one is prepared to hold them up, then fine, fall to the ground with a potential broken spine, all fine really…

So first act BM properly started to listen to on the main stage was Friendly Fires, (let’s just leave Jessie Ware out of this…) – previously seen on the now retired NME tour in 2011 maybe, anyway they have some good tunes, most of them from their self-titled debut album. We also get some takes from follow up album “Pala” but it is the cream of the debut which work best of all – ‘Jump in the Pool’ and ‘Skeleton Boy’ recalling the ‘Nu-Rave’ scene (where are they now, Klaxons, anyone?), tinged with Afrobeat and a couple of stone cold classics. On a sunny day in Glasgow they were struggling in the heat, with a partially indifferent audience (there were pockets of enthusiasm). It only now comes to BM, that they are awfully like Talking Heads (regrettably BM never saw that band live), fair play to them, they are very groovy, but a bit thin on new material.

Franz Ferdinand have played some live shows in Scotland to promote their recent album ‘Always Ascending’ but this was their first big festival date in Scotland this year, although they have been being the festival rounds in Europe. They were welcomed by the now capacity crowd, in fine Glasgow voice, and proceeded the play the hits, mostly. In BM’s opinion they weren’t loud enough but maybe that was their choice…

Cuts from the new album were a bit mixed, title track ‘Always Ascending’ sounded good and emphasised the strength of the new line-up, with Julian Corrie aka Miaoux Miaoux on keyboards and new guitarist, ex-Yummy Fur Dino Bardot, replacing Nick McCarthy.

They do however have some amazing songs in the back catalogue, and although opener ‘Do You Wanna’ was not IMO loud enough, other tracks like ‘Michael’, ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Matinee’ had the audience rapt, and of course ‘Take Me Out’ had everyone jumping. They ended with ‘This Fire’ and yes it sounded great, just amazing how an “art-rock” combo founded on Gang of Four riffs can attract such a large crowd, some of whom would normally call them a bunch of weird poofters – or have things changed? Fair play to them, it was a good set.

Chvrches were up next, and played a 13-song set comprised of 5 from their debut, 3 from ‘Bones’ and 5 from new album ‘Love is Dead’. After seeing their Hydro gig in 2016 BM concluded they were indeed stadium rock monsters, and this show was a further progression. The sound was louder, far louder than Franz, and the ban d were confident enough for some onstage banter (Dixons and paper tissues were the main subjects). In between this, they thoroughly rammed home their electro vs emo sound, battering the audience with BM’s favourites ‘Bury It’, ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Clearest Blue’. To be honest BM is not convinced about the new tracks, they are quite good but not if they match up, give it some time…. For logistical reasons (like needing fed) BM did not see the whole set, but it was pretty darn good, shouldn’t really mention Lauren’s mid-Atlantic accent, the price of fame…

So here we go with The Killers – just to mention first off that BM last saw them at TiTP and didn’t like it, liked the first half of first album ‘Hot Fuss’, and three tracks from second album ‘Sam’s Town’ and since then, well, meh.

Anyway, this was a proper show, first thing to notice was Brandon Flowers’ smile, up on the screens but even from far away, he is a star, charismatic like few people are, and Glasgow love this, the reaction from the audience is almost unprecedented for such a large scale show, at least not the kind of shows BM usually attends…

Opener “The Man” (from new album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, had to look that up!) sounds more like The Bee Gees, with its high choruses and funk riffs, but then we get right down to it with “a belter”, as Brandon introduces it – the mighty ‘Somebody Told Me’, which way back then got us all exited, mixing The Psychedelic Furs and New Order/Cure tropes and in melding all that, brought it back to the UK, and paid it a compliment – the Green goes mental….

After that it didn’t really matter what they played, the whole audience was enthralled and BM can forget any music snobbery, especially when they checked The Waterboys’ ‘Whole of the Moon’ (“best song I never wrote”, said Brandon) and even a snippet of the Travis song they covered for their first open mic song, well obviously they were going to win everyone over. There was also mention of the King Tut’s midnight show (sold out, don’t ask) that night, no BM review of that, I’m afraid.

And they got a guy from the crowd up to drum on ‘For Reasons Unknown’, and he was pretty good – all these things play so well and contributed to a very memorable night’s entertainment – there were a couple of duffer tracks but the encore of ‘The Calling’ (strongest track from the new album), biggest hit (‘Human’), still a ridiculous lyric after all these years but the crowd loved it, then the ultimate kiss-off of ‘Mr Brightside’, still a slicing shard of retro-80s sparkle which means so many different things to different people – love song, or hate song? It is a modern classic and this is what we went away with tonight, as the unusually balmy night at the Green finally turned dark.

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