Gig review gig reviews (Scottish)

Pronto Mama / JR Green / St Martiins / Rituals

The first “official” event of BBC6 Music Festival 2017, tickets for this were free, on sale the day of the big ticket scramble a few weeks ago.

The scramble led to the scandal of Depeche Tickets on Viagogo for up to £700, like 25 times the face value of £30, and the BBC said this would not happen. Suffice to say that BM is against touting for profit and these people (Viagogo and the individuals who operate within its confines) are scum, nuff said – and Viagogo, you can sue me, go ahead.

The venue may be officially sold out but is by no means full when Radio Scotland legend and BM favourite (yes she would!) Vic Galloway and BBC6 Music DJ and musical legend Tom Robinson introduce the first band around 7.20pm. We are told to cheer in the direction of the mic on the left of the stage, and no “here we f—ing go” if you don’t mind, said Vic!

Rituals are from Edinburgh (the crowd are not bothered about this, we live in evolved times!) and they rock. Five or maybe six tracks by this four-piece fairly get things going. BM had scribbled a long list of comparisons but no mind, let’s just say they are channeling The Doors, Cave, Phantoms via something around The Coral and spaghetti Westerns. No surprise they are involved with Skeleton Key records and the single ‘Black River’ is an absolute corker, no doubt there. The singer/guitarist/keyboard player has a Pete Murphy-esque yowl and can also croon, the main guitarist chops out some amazing lines and solos on his quite amazing looking instrument, what the hell did that look like, and the drum and bass section bang it out, very good indeed. These guys are on the up and BM salutes them!

Next up are St Martiins from Dundee. Betty reviewed them at Tenement Trail last year in Broadcast, a rammed gig mid-afternoon but didn’t really get a sense of what they did. So tonight BM gets the full experience and they are very good indeed. A five member outfit, fronted by an enigmatic and talented singer, plus some weird keyboard noises amid some funky guitar, drum and bass. Shades of Bwani Junction and other jit-influenced combos, maybe Bombay BC. There are unusual beats, some nods even at times to Chvrches and maybe (don’t take this wrong) The Cranberries in the tone and intonation, that first Cranberries album was not bad…(no, don’t go!) BM understands St M have been a bit conflicted of late in terms of gigs, their Dundee base not really ideal. Tom Robinson (whose hand BM shook later on, in fact palled him doon the road, don’t worry, nothing happened readers) (this guy is a true legend, ‘Glad To Be Gay’, he actually went around singing this in 1978 and it was banned by the BBC, ha!) – anyway, he lauded the band afterwards and that is really something, so keep on keeping on St M, BM salutes yous!

Circumstances prevented BM from seeing too much of JR Green but they went down pretty well, some nifty accordion playing and the matinee-idol looks of the singer (swoon!) should take them a certain distance, they just need something to ignite this, but they have the elements, so good luck, guys!

And last up were Pronto Mama, who BM has reviewed several times and is a big fan of, so was looking forward to. They did not disappoint, playing a mixture of old and new material. The thing about the Prontos is there is just so much variety, of styles, instrumentation, they can just do anything and everything. There are some constant – the Animal-esque drumming at the back, the interplay of vocals, the likelihood that the brass will be whipped out at some point (but when?) and the Scottish-accented vocals, respect due. This band deserve all the praise they are currently getting, and more. New songs have been released recently (in addition to the two EPs, or maybe three, from last year) – Arabesque and Double Speak are both amazing and BM for one is much looking forward to their actual album, released in May 2017. Near the end of the set they play ‘One Trick Pony’, which for BM’s money is their best live track, and by this time the still not exactly rammed venue was full of shouts (BM included), hollers and roars of encouragement. This band connects with people, there is no showboating or star shit here, we are with them and of them.

They very graciously thank everyone, we shout “one more tune” and they come back on to do an a cappella number which just blows everyone away, we listen in total silence, rapt, no idea what the title was but bloomin ‘eck, they will also “‘ave” that down in Manchester at BBC6 world HQ/Batcave, so well done boys, and actually all the bands tonight, and Vic for basically curating it – yous all put Glasgow on the BBC6 Music map.

And Tom Robinson, what a gent – he was probably embarrassed by BM’s fan worship, never mind darling…