To say I was a little excited about this gig is probably an understatement. At first it was all about seeing the magnificent Maps whose album, We Can Create, has easily nestled itself in my favourites of this year but as more acts were added to the bill the more I wanted the gig to come sooner. Opening proceedings were one of Scotland’s most exciting new bands, Zoey Van Goey. They set the tone perfectly with their infectious, happy-go-lucky indie songs interspersed with initial drummer Matt’s attempts to describe the winter in his native Canada. Current single ‘Foxtrot Vandals’ impressed the already busy King Tuts crowd almost as much as the various band members’ versatility. Indeed, it appears they are all at home with any of the instruments on stage and swap around them with consummate ease. Although their set is short it is also most definitely sweet and their lush melodies are left to reverberate around the venue as the crowd hail a new set of heroes.
Also added to the line up was, amazingly, the German wizard Ulrich Schnauss. Ulrich who? some of you may say and if you are in that category then go look him up now, the guy is phenomenal and as he sat down at his station comprising of everything save for a flux capacitor, I was truly in awe. As the visuals kicked in on the screen behind him, it became clear that a number of the audience were just as mesmerized by him as I was. For the next half an hour we were treated to the sort of blissful, soaring electronica that he has earned his reputation as being a past master of. He mainly interpreted tracks from his latest release ‘Goodbye’ including the simply wonderful ‘Stars’ and they were all played against a backdrop of fairy lights and swirling colours which complemented the music perfectly. Clearly influenced by the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, he has taken the sort of melodies they were famed for and in almost Spector-like fashion, created his own distinctive sound. The ethereal beauty of his music captured the crowd and he left the stage after a cacophonous climax to rapturous applause. Surprisingly it was only his second time in Glasgow following his first visit 4 years ago, we can only hope he does not leave it as long until the next one.
Normally you would expect the headliner to be a little concerned at having to follow up such a stellar opening cast but when you have a Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut album under your belt and have been described as “gorgeous…really special” by Q magazine such fears will no doubt be allayed. As I mentioned previously, ‘We Can Create’ is a truly sublime debut and any fears I myself had about how the songs would be translated in a live setting were dismissed during the joyous set opener ‘So Low, So High’ which almost felt like the soundtrack to a victory lap. Although the album is clearly reliant upon computer effects and electronics, the band assembled more than do justice to the tracks to deliver a devastating sonic punch to the audience especially on the likes of ‘Back And Forth’ and ‘Don’t Fear’. Unlike some of his contemporaries who attempt to conceal their influences, James Chapman is clearly proud of his and cites the likes of Kraftwerk, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Boards of Canada to name but a few, as artists who have had a hand in the music that he produces. As the set progresses the audience response to each song borders on the euphoric and a clearly humble Chapman, bashfully acknowledges their enthusiasm. It is a pleasure to be a part of the crowd and as their isn’t a bad song on the album, so too there is no lull in the set. Thankfully they play just about all of it and current single ‘To The Sky’ is as uplifting live as it is on record and sadly it began to dawn on me that they couldn’t have many songs left to play. However, despite the late hour and many present with trains(or in my case, buses to catch) the band are beckoned back on for an encore and the soaring ‘When You Leave’ is the last song of the night, but before they do leave they ask the crowd where their next destination in town should be to party, there are a few shouts of ‘Firewater!’ ‘Sleazys!’ and even ‘McDonalds!’ I sincerely hope wherever they ended up doesn’t put them off coming back.