Published Jan 12, 2009Amiable and talented though he was, Rich Hope couldn't fool Vancouverites hoping for Carl Barât. Barât, the scheduled opener, had been detained at the border (reasons "unforeseen," according to a posted sign), and so the local blues/rockabilly troubadour filled in for the former Libertine and Dirty Pretty Thing. By his own admission, it was a strange match: Hope, charmingly, introduced Glasgow's Glasvegas by saying, "See if you can spot the difference between me and them."
The difference was clear, and immediate. Maybe it was booze, or because this was their only Canadian date until April; maybe it was the high percentage of Scots present (kilt count: one), but Glasvegas were welcomed like hometown heroes. It helps that they played like Richard's was a cross between a stadium and the local pub, blasting football-strength lights while still making contact with the front row.
The sound that brought them here is noisy, thick stuff - difficult and beautiful at once, as evidenced on songs like "Daddy's Gone" and "Stabbed." Live, Glasvegas let the pedals do the talking, and it adds extra weight to singer James Allen's full-on brogue that the noise envelops him so. Allen, an ex-footballer, is a marvel - equal parts thuggish and sad, looking both like a hooligan and a bit like Joe Strummer, which doesn't hurt his mystique. With his brother at his right and a female drummer who stands at the skins, the band have enough of a story in their lineup, never mind the songs.
But, oh - those songs. While it's "Daddy's Gone" that probably brought them overseas, it should be "Geraldine," a twinkly Joy Division-style epic, and "Go Square Go," ("Square Go," a Scot informed, is a Glasgow-specific call to fight) a raucous fight song, that carries them forward. Leaving Richard's, a chorus of brogues singing their countrymen's music carried off into the night.