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Save As Collective / Adam Stafford / Two Kings

Glasgow Glad Cafe (Saturday 12th August 2018 )

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

This was one of the best nights at the Glad, ever, period. A combination of an unusual headliner, a storming support act and a sense of occasion brings out the best in what is BM’s favourite local venue, bar none!

The concept with somewhat eccentric – those of us who experienced the Garden Festival (BM did not, away for work, and if I ever see another ping pong ball, so help me God) it was the first major national event in Glasgow since Empire 1938, which was held at Bellahouston Park in a whole different age and time.

Anyway, there was a physical programme, a collection of cupcakes and some audience, probably peak Shawlands hipster quotient but we are not here to talk about that, it is aboot the music, is it trad, Dad? Well, not exactly…

So first up we had the original designer of the Garden Festival logo, Shona McIver, talking about how harsh it was to be the only female “graphic artist” in Glasgow at the time and being escorted out of Drumchapel while trying to do some research, by a well-meaning local woman (“you can’t walk here alone, hen”, etc) – so she designed something colourful and positive in these dark days, and the rest is history.

The first musical offering tonight was Two Kings, appearing in royal costumes but BM gleaned (ok accosted them afterwards) that the duo were from bands Tisso Lakes and Eagleowl and they had a dual keyboards setup. There were tropes of Incredible String Band vs Wicker Man soundtrack going on – it sounded great, and given BM’s lifelong affinity to Genesis, some of the weird tales could have been on ‘Trespass’ (oh shit, one thousand readers shut down their computers, this is peak dodgy and unhip musical taste, BM will take one for the team however…) This was conceived by the duo one Hallowe’en and and spread from there, and sounded really good as the screen behind showed footage of Charles and Diana opening the Garden Festival, spooky on several different levels. BM lived through the 80s but some of these images could be from a different planet.

So next up was Adam Stafford, who played a storming solo set comprised mainly from his latest album ‘Fire Behind the Curtain’. He played about a month ago at the same venue but this time he was much more self-assured and the sounds came thick and fast. Stafford is a master of the loops setting up guitar, effects and vocals to play along with, and the overall effects are nothing short of devastating. Highlights tonight were ‘Museum of Grinding Dicks’ (no dedication!) and the now remixed ‘The Witch Hunt’ – Stafford trades a fine line between Vini Reilly-esque filigree and more brutal soundscapes, but it is all completely spellbinding, and homemade on the spot – he must be Scotland’s most underrated artist of the year, again – but BM salutes him and the humanity of his music and live performances.

It was then time for headliner, Jamie Scott, aka SaveAs Collective, who played (with a live drummer) the Glasgow Garden Festival album in full (it is available on 2-Stripe Recordings) and truly it is a work of great resonance and wonder. After the blast from the past media about the great Garden Festival we were off…

‘Make Scotland Shite Again’ was dealt with as a calling card – “This is just the way my city made me” – with references to “Merchant Names” and a steel band backing sample. He plays with Scottish cliches, and is almost goading us with “here we, here we, here we f… nope here we fill the bowl”… Next track ‘Towers’ explores the city’s relationship with towers, both at the Garden Festival and since, with the tower that cannae turn etc – there is much linguistic density in the words and the musical backdrop is perfect… He combines a Simple Minds sample with a Soul2Soul one – did he get permission, not sure, maybe Jim and Charlie’s lawyers are forming their case as BM writes….?

There is a bit bf chat between songs, Jamie referencing the Pollok Free State on ‘Another World’, playing around with Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ and reformatting into “We built this city on untaxed tobacco imports” which is a stormer of a line!

The soundtrack is mainly ambient techno but the live drums add a lot – it is jittery, paranoid and absolutely incredible – we are not even halfway through.

Later tracks reference immigration, co-inciding historic flows of people with the empire and brexit influences to create some thoughtful musings…

Jamie’s voice is compelling to listen to, like an oracle – and the last few songs are majestic, referencing The Blue Nile in ‘Cathedral’. As the sweat dripped off BM and ruined lipgloss and other extremities there were tributes to “men of steel” via the Paper Boat. There are also references to theme parks and beer, and maybe Blackpool…

Jamie spits about the Garden Festival but it is clear he has done his research and there are some very fine and sly touches across this performance. ‘The Tourist’ is a subtle piece of work, with the theme of planting of trees and regeneration. Jamie is a compelling performer as he whispers his lyrics, with melodic backdrop…

Last track (on the album anyway) is another Minds reference ‘(Don’t You) Forget About Me’ is more positive (“We rearranged the brackets”) says Jamie, fearful of another legal challenge…

And last up, they played a sublime cover of Aztec Camera’s ‘Somewhere in My Heart’ – coincidentally, Roddy Frame was doing the exact same thing up at the Bandstand in Kelvingrove that night – but BM later confirmed that Jamie “just liked the song and wanted to pay tribute”…

An epic night from from highly original artists willing to push that (paper) boat out.

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