The vibe inside New York City's Bowery Ballroom for a sold-out show by U.K. chart-topping quartet Glasvegas wasn't any less bleak and frigid than the freezing rain outside: Dressed all in black, the band unfurled depressing tales, dreary, pint-swilling Scot pride, and football-arena-filling anthems on the day their self-titled debut dropped stateside. And the verdict on the band's first proper U.S. tour? For a band that's clearly derivative, mostly positive.
During the 45-minute set, the quartet performed nine of the ten tracks from Glasvegas, their SPIN-approved debut album. Singer James Allan, who bears a striking physical resemblance to Joe Strummer, howled over distorted guitars and loud bass on set-opener "Flowers & Football Tops," a gloomy tale about a father losing his son to murder.
Though variety and originality are clearly not Glasvegas' forte -- they openly borrow from Jesus and Mary Chain, Phil Spector-produced '60s girl bands, and even Oasis -- what they do, they do well. And the echoing vocals, reverb-drenched guitar, and heavy bass on "Geraldine," which tells the tale of a lady who inspires hope and courage but turns out to be a social worker, were spot-on. "Go Square Go," another highlight, which is named after a Scot phrase that refers to fist-fighting, got the audience eagerly chanting along: "Here we fucking go!"
From their limited edition Christmas EP A Snowflake Fell (and it Felt Like a Kiss), they only played "Please Come Back Home." Without enough material for an encore, the band wrapped up the short show with arguably their best song, "Daddy's Gone," and Allan let the fans do the singing once again, as the Bowery Ballroom was broiled by the band's borderline-obnoxious stadium-caliber light show.
Glasvegas maintained a high level of intensity and energy, even for New York's notoriously A.D.D. crowds. And though they succeeded in quieting the skeptical tongues, they will need something more if they intend on keeping their "It" band status long.
Glasvegas / Photo by Jackie Roman
James Allan / Photo by Jackie Roman