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GLASVEGAS/ME AND MY ARMY @ GLOBENS ANNEXE STOCKHOLM 19/05/11 - REVIEW BY ANDY BARNES

Pure coincidence finds me located in Stockholm the same night Glasvegas play Globens Annexe. Intrigued how their regional brand of Indie rock translates further North, a short train journey to the ice hockey stadium on the outskirts of the city reveals the Annexe (as the name suggests) to be a smaller room off the main hall, although still incorporating a capacity of approximately 2,700.  Highlighting the Swedish Capitols commitment to Glasvegas, I’m surrounded in a packed arena by a relatively wide age range of locals for the Glaswegians second visit to the city this year.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, the debut album reaching gold status in this part of Scandinavia.

Swedish outfit “Me and My Army” opened proceedings, receiving a good reception from the large, early evening gathering for their own, slightly underwhelming, indie sound before what felt an interminable wait for the main act.  Eventually at the strike of nine, the backdrop of lights begin to individually spell out the band’s name, as the electronica strains of “Pain Pain Never Again” fill the hall prior to the quartet’s entry, breaking into “The World is Yours” to complete the opening to latest album “Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\.”  Glasvegas incorporate a big, anthemic sound, particularly to the second album, which a hall of this size and Globens booming sound system suit perfectly.  Even in the midst of adoring fans at such an early stage, I already have my concerns, over James Allan in particular. Apart from a pair of black shades, Allen is dressed purely in white, inclusive white microphone and illuminated white microphone lead.  With the rest of the band virtually in black, the usual front man focus doesn’t appear enough for Allan, feeling the need to distinguish even further as the centre point, requiring all attention from the assembled admirers. 

Undoubtedly the audience hold Allan in reverence, a fact of which he’s very aware, adopting  a role of almost messiah proportions. Unfortunately this messiah revealed as a cross between Bono and Jim Kerr.  I find Allan’s performance extremely ironic, his posturing and posing at odds with lyrical themes including social workers during the admittedly great “Geraldine” and perhaps even more so, when lying flat on his back delivering “Ice Cream Van.” He bemoans sarcastically during an introduction to “Lonesome Swan” the band are no longer regarded as working class. I suggest YouTube requires a visit James, to view your own performance, or a wander through Glasgow in your white jeans and jacket, a few clues why perhaps exposed.

The set includes a good mix of old and new, although the allegiances of the congregation obviously apparent in the direction of the debut. Enormous cheers arose for “Go Square Go” with Allen virtually redundant throughout, his followers procuring vocal duties for the majority of the song. The image with true longevity conversely, not band related, one of a mature Swedish woman holding her coat, undertaking a short clapping action just beneath her chin whilst singing heartily to the football chant chorus, “Here we go, here we go, here we fucking go.” Only in Scandinavia!

You have to credit Glasvegas, somehow producing the appearance of much from very little, particularly in relation to tracks taken from “Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ tonight.  The lyrical intensity of aforementioned “Geraldine” or encore “Daddy’s Gone” absent from the newer material,  the sound filled by inspired, in the circumstances, recent Swedish acquisition, Jonna Lofgren’s energetic drumming plus basic, although solid and effective bass playing from Paul Donoghue.  Rab Allan’s guitar work adds an additional dimension to the impressive trademark guttural Glaswegian vocal, although from the fringes, I’m left with feeling of emptiness as I leave Globens Annexe.

I experienced an unexpected sensation from Glasvegas tonight.  After the depth of the eponymous debut, I hoped for an evening of intense passion, instead witnessing just......... another rock gig, all show with little substance. Definitely more flowers than football tops in Stockholm tonight.   

Review, photographs and Video by Andy Barnes