A big night this for TTS (although they have headlined this venue before), a home sold out gig and the culmination of a year of touring, release of their fourth album (proper) and some pretty honourable menshies in the end-of-year critics’ polls as well. Pretty good going for a bunch of (self-confessedly) miserable gits from near Kilsyth.
At 7.45pm the venue is quiet but rapidly filling up, however BM has just missed the first support band Vladimir. Bloody buses! Having seen the Dundonians twice this year BM is pretty sure they were very good (see ITM Q&A feature** elsewhere on the site) and let’s hope for more Glasgow gigs in 2015.
Second support act Errors are also familiar to BM and they got things started with ‘Magna Encarta’, an older track, possibly** from previous album ‘Have Some Faith…’, and ‘Pleasure Palaces’. A slightly gangling but very witty trio of earnest young men (guitar/keyboards/vocals, bass and drums) they proceeded to introduce ‘Cecilia’, a chanteuse who provided vocals for a couple of tracks of material “from the new album”. Some of this sounded less like the usual Krautrock-with-wailing and slightly Mogwai-esque instrumentation, and more like Roykksopp or possibly The Knife. BM is not sure yet about the new direction, think the lower tempo of these tracks didn’t work so well but the vocals are good – they ended with another older tune (favourite ‘Holus Bolus’), which restored the balance and due to time constraints and the three bands on the bill, that was it.
TTS came on at nine and played a set with no encore, but they packed it with highlights, most of current album ‘No One Wants To Be Here…’ and a clutch of tracks from each of the preceding three. In some ways it is frustrating at each gig over the years to hear less off each of these excellent albums (the recent ‘Thirteen Winters’, or whatever, BM can never remember how many, shows excepted) but overall it’s a pleasure to note how much back catalogue this band can now draw from, and how versatile some of the performances have been in recent years, from the acoustic to the orchestral, and the quadraphonic (!).
So it is a tooled-up, powered up TTS which starts tonight with a couple of recent album tracks ‘There’s A Girl In the Corner’ and ‘Last January’, the three core members boosted by an additional guitarist and keyboardist. The sound while pretty good was not (to these ears) the best soundmix that BM has witnessed at ABC, or at a TTS gig for that matter, but the venue was also so rammed with people that this may also have been a factor.
Highlights of the set for BM anyway were the oldest tracks ‘That Summer…’, ‘Cold Days in the Birdhouse’ and ‘Darken The Memory’, but tracks from the middle two albums, for example ‘Dead City’ (the high vocal notes in the chorus are always a highlight), ‘The Wrong Car’ and ‘Nil’ were sounding pretty good as well. A couple of times BM thought there might have been more of a crowd reaction to the music but the truth was we could barely move – there was a lot of shouting though!
In general it was the most recent tracks that showcased the band’s current touring line-up, with a bit more space in the sound for more instrumental lines. ‘Drown So I Can Watch’ with its mordant “I put you through hell but you carry it oh so well…” fair bubbled with dark poignancy. This again prompted BM to muse whether James really is the Scottish music scene’s own Paul Spector (apologies for TV-related quip, realise that no one reading this ever watches TV, you hipsters you!). “It Never Was The Same” again pushes the darkness to the limit with its refrain of “we danced to save them all, tried to save them all, you didn’t have to kill them all..” I mean WTF James, what have you been up to recently? BM suspects it may have been those rabbits (again).
The set ended with a climactic ‘Darken the Memory’, the crowd bellowing the words back at the vocalist, and him bellowing them back. An epic close to what BM imagines must have been a long and emotional year (a 3-page spread in the Daily Record being only the last in a series of slightly unexpected events, I mean what next in this topsy-turvy world of ours?)
For 2015 BM would like to predict: Errors giving fashion tips in Cosmopolitan, Vladimir doing the Lottery Show and Caroline Flack playing a doom techno indie set at Broadcast, having grown a full beard… (apologies Caroline, you were just collateral damage in that jibe, big fan of your work obvs)
As he has done at many recent shows James expressed his thanks to the crowd and his sense of disbelief about what TTS have achieved. It’s been a lot.
And there’s the Edinburgh Hog Show, and Tut’s 25th in February, and more… who’d have thought it?