Despite being held a week before the West End Festival actually finished, this end of festivities event at the stunning Oran Mor took place Sunday 23rd June with a truly stellar line up in place. It was also buzzing with a veritable 'who's who' of Glasgow music type people. Which is no bad thing. I'll make a point now of saying due to the quality of the line up in the Auditorium, I didn't venture down to the Venue at all. By all accounts the line up there, including Pronto Mama, Fatherson and Washington Irving amongst others, was mighty fine too.
Busting on stage with a rousing opening number of 'Twelve Thousand Drops', Campfires In Winter drew a very sizeable crowd, for a band with only one (or two?) official releases to their name. That one member of the crowd came all the way from Germany, makes it even more impressive! And it certainly wouldn't have been a wasted trip either, as the foursome trade on anthemic post-rock knitted with three part vocal melodies illustrated by mid-set track 'See Us There, Both'. Recent single 'White Lights' pulses through with an intro worthy of any We Were Promised Jetpacks song, and new track, taken from a forthcoming September EP, is all about Boab's gruff vocals and a epic crescendo laden outro. Closing track 'Morgi Tempo' explains why CiW were such a perfect choice for opening the stage. With a slight twist on the lyrics, take three parts Twilight Sad, two parts Neutral Milk Hotel, and you're not far off starting point. And then with a, "fuck me, that's loud" they depart.
"Satan. Satan" moans Adam Stafford. The crowd gathered are clearly bewitched, which can only lead me to believe that that many loop pedals hold hypnotic powers. Despite the high ceilings in the Auditorium leading to some sound leakage, it's a pretty swell performance from Stafford and his 21st century one man band. 'Vanishing Tanks', 'Please' and 'Carshulton Girls' all come from his forthcoming album, '
Next up it's time for some electro wizardry in the form of Chemikal Underground alumni Conquering Animal Sound. Having missed the first fifteen minutes or so (a man's gotta eat crepes sometimes), I returned into the Auditorium to otherworldly mystical sounds. CAS sound sparse and chilled, but with the pulsing heart of a computer. Watching James Scott tweak and tune, as Anneke Kampman prowls the stage, delivering vocals with an almost hip-hop style, it's hard not to be impressed. Again, there's the slight issue of sound being lost to the vast ceilings, but with the dreamy loops of tracks such as 'The Future Does Not Require' and 'Ultimate Heat Death Of The Universe' nobody really seems to care too much.
By the time SAY Award short listed Meursault take the stage, the venue is packed out, the fading evening light, let's the stage lights illuminate the band, creating an altogether wonderful atmosphere ripe with anticipation. Opener 'Thumb' ambles in, warmly hugging those gathered for the occasion as Neil Pennycock croons repeatedly "we will not be weakened any more." 'Flittin' closely follows, as the band get into full swing, dripping with raw passion and earning each and every plaudit that comes their way. 'Dull Spark' is anything but dull, tearing into every nook of this beautiful building, and filling it with Pennycock's extraordinary voice. The energy doesn't let up through the set, and as Pennycock spits "ha, fucking, ha" during 'Settling', hairs on necks everywhere stand to attention. There's no finer way to throw down the gauntlet to The Twilight Sad, than storming off stage, amidst a buzz of Neil Young-esque feedback.
I'm sure I wasn't alone in being slightly disappointed that the evenings head-liners were playing a stripped back set, rather than the full on audacious wall of sound set. And I'm equally sure that I wasn't the only one wallowing in a slight sense of guilt once I realised what a fucking stupid worry that had been. Opening with 'That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy' and blistering through hits both old, such as 'I Became A Prostitute' and new from their SAY short listed album, the Sad have this Glasgow crowd singing from their song sheet. There's a tender moment as James Graham, recalls the bands progress over the ten years they've been about, and plays a very special acoustic rendition of 'Cold Days From The Birdhouse'. In this setting, on this night, and with this set, The Sad's songs breathe, inspire and delight.