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Wojtek the Bear / Check Masses / The Vignettes

Glasgow Blue Arrow (Saturday January 11th 2020)

By • Jan 26th, 2020 • Category: Gig review

So this is BM’s first gig of 2020, part of the First Footing events at the Blue Arrow, a rather nice newish venue opposite the CCA on the ruined part of Sauchiehall St, looking over to the hulk of the burnt out ABC and Art School (the music venue there is now apparently in liquidation, another fine Glasgow venue bites the dust…).

So first up, The Vignettes, a Glasgow-based four-piece. BM liked them at BAAD back in September last year and this 9 song set cemented that feeling, very enjoyable indeed. There are shades of early Talking Heads in the guitar work between Hamish and Innes, and the vocals (mainly Hamish) recall both The Monochrome Set and Orange Juice.

Highlights tonight for BM are ‘Post Mistress’ and the rousing closer ‘I Dig You’. They don’t seem to have any music out at the moment apart from Soundcloud (and some of that is quite old), but BM certainly rates them, alongside The Dandy Warhols and Art Brut…

The main reason BM was at this venue tonight however was for the live debut of Check Masses, straight outta Leith and with some considerable back history. Actually let’s not go into that as bands are best heard and commented on for their own merits and this lot played an absolute blinder.

With frontman Angelo, guitarist Vic Galloway, and samples man (mainly tambourine tonight, McGroarty supplemented by a fearsome backline of Jack (bass) and Craig (drums) this was a fearsome combination, and for a first public gig it went really well…

There were influences of ska, dub, rockabilly and mariachi, pretty much everything you could think of, but BM’s key comparisons would be Massive Attack and The Cramps, not bad company really… Best tracks were probably ‘Lost in the City’, ‘Unravel’ and the closer, current single ‘Dripn Angel’ – BM is hoping there will be more releases and some festival dates, they could do some real damage in the summer sun (or downpour, for that matter).

After that we got the headliners Wojtek The Bear, who played an accomplished set of indie-rock numbers, the best of which probably ‘Some States’ and ‘Tonic Youth’ – very enjoyable, emotional music which can pack a real punch but still quite understated. They played as a five-piece tonight, with added fiddle, a great sound.

And overall the soundmix was great tonight so credit to The Blue Arrow’s engineer and the promoters – a great start to the year.

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