Glasvegas and Carl Barat (Libertines) @ The Troubadour, 1/14
Photo by the talented Leslie Kalohifor the LAist
If you were standing outside the Troubadour last Wednesday night, your ears would have been awash in accents from all over the British isles. Scots, English, Welsh, and even the odd Irish lilt filled the air to the point at which if you closed your eyes, your ears no longer believed your brain's messages that you were in fact in West Hollywood.
The catalyst to this foreign invasion of the Troubadour is of course, Glasvegas, who have been scoring hits for a year now on the other side of the pond. They have yet to break in America, but the wave of hype has followed them like a tidal wave ready to flood the US with their fuzzed out, mournful Scottish rock.
The opener, Carl Barat was another huge draw for the Brits. As a founding member and lead front man of the much loved (Can we say adored? I think so.) band The Libertines, Carl Barat is a huge star in his own right. When the Libertines fell apart mostly due to Carl Barat and Pete Doherty's squabbling, which stemmed from one would guess a number of things that probably included Doherty's illicit drug problems and model addiction, Barat formed a new band, Dirty Pretty Things, which had a few modest hits and was disbanded in October.
Mr. Barat showed up on stage in a naval-inspired jacket and sang a number of his hits from both the Libertines and the Dirty Pretty Things with just his electric guitar as back up. I kept thinking it's such a shame to see such a gifted songwriter sing his material with such an air of melancholy. That guy needs a band to expand his talent. I'm sure we could find him one in LA if he stayed around long enough. It was like giving Da Vinci just a pencil and paper, when you know he's yearning for oils and a canvas. An incomplete sound with so much promise. Not that the audience minded one bit. They sang along and danced to their hearts content.
Before Glasvegas went on the Troubadour was flooded with smoke from the machine. It was so heavy that you couldn't see the drum kit. Seriously if the place had been on fire, we wouldn't have noticed. It's really odd that they've banned smoking from rock clubs, but smoke machines are allowed to blow full blast. It seems counter intuitive. Couldn't we let cigarettes back in and allow the smoke machines to take a break for a bit? I mean apart from that secondhand smoke cancer problem, they're essentially the same. But I digress.
The Glaswegians took the stage in a cloud of smoke and bright lights, and the crowd went bananas. Front man, James Allen, all dressed up in black leather with a Teddy Boy's haircut (minus the grease) looked the part. He said something very witty to the crowd, that was completely lost on me due to my inability to decipher the Glaswegian accent, and launched into "'Flowers And Football Tops." Allen has a haunting voice that conjures up images of sharp, windblown cliffs, wild seas, and foggy mists. It is easy to imagine him howling at the rain or in the hills with a gorgeous agony that would turn most Romantic poets pea green with envy.
The distortion from Rab Allen's guitar as well as the simplicity of Paul Donaghue's bass and Caroline McKay's time keeping evokes a sound that makes you want to run out into the foggy streets and howl. Which is not a bad thing, but it's been done before. It's been done better, by the less glamorous and much older Manchester band Elbow or fellow Glaswegians The Jesus and the Mary Chain. But do not rule Glasvegas out. I have a feeling their sound will age and mature like a fine wine.With such a huge following, they will be given the resources to grow as a band and shape their own sound. What makes me say this? Their surprising and transcendentally good cover of the Ronettes "Be My Baby." It was really well done. If they can cover Motown and make it their own...what else can they do?
Photo by the talented Steve Gulick
'Flowers And Football Tops'
'Please Come Back Home'
'Polmont On My Mind'
'Ice Cream Van'
'Go Square Go'
'Be My Baby'