30th March, 2017
It isn’t often that a selfless record label appears in your city, promising to promote and release quality music with no other agenda other than to preserve the good reputation which already exists. Twelve months later, and not-for-profit independent record label Last Night from Glasgow (LNfG) invited its project-artists for 2017, its shareholders (£50 membership per annum) and their friends to celebrate in the basement of city favourite Stereo in Renfield Lane.
A queue spiralling up the staircase and into the café area was a sound basis for how revered the label has become in such a short time, and this was exemplified in the diversity of its members; from silver-mullet rockers to LED-lit trainers upon the feet of Glasgow’s students, it was proven that good music taste arrives in many guises. With label members based in Canada and records being shipped across the world, the interest in LNfG has recently captured the interest of The Skinny, Evening Times, the Herald, and punk-pages Louder Than War, while its artists have been more than matching the vision of the company with names such as TeenCanteen, Be Charlotte, and Mark W. Georgsson already having release quality material on the label’s name.
Like any one year old’s birthday party, there were large inflatable balloons bobbing at the entrance of the venue, with cakes for all, great tunes being played by the sound engineer, and party miscellanea tied around Stereo’s pillars and walls. The hilarious Stephen Solo opened proceedings, advising that the reason the label came into being was because “middle aged cunts need a job” (most of LNfG founding members are now in their forties), before welcoming first act Sister John to the stage.
Luxuriant and inviting, Sister John’s kindly and clement beginning to the evening, consisting of a couple of guitars, violin, and a drum-kit was unexpected but not unwanted, unveiling a range of multi-instrumental changes and three-part harmonies which the crowd was receptive to. The delightful ‘Greatest Moment’ was inspired by “a sticker on a record promoting ‘the forthcoming hits’….”, joked songwriter Amanda McKeown. It was difficult to not compare the quartet’s blended arrangements and easy-listening style to Norah Jones, whilst the time taken to tune up the various instruments led to occasional uneasy-listening gaps and sporadic checks that the various cables winding around the stage were not prepared to yank any of the band to the floor. It will be interesting to see how the album release later in the year develops. Meantime, interested persons should certainly check out the alluring ‘He Came Down’ single released by LNfG at the start of this year, whilst live the soothing harmonies on ‘Hot Water’ and the final song – title unknown – a dreamy tale of lost love and “hair like the endless midnight sea” provided a delectable, if curiously understated way to begin the evening.
Central belt-born 21yr old Emme Woods was just the jolt which the night needed, leading a five-piece band (being watched at the front by birthday girl, Bubbles the chihuahua) in a sublimely-defective style. The rumble produced by the raw, bluesy sound Woods produces on her electric guitar is matched by her distinctively Celtic-eroded vocal on ‘I Don’t Drink To Forget’, the second single released by LNfG in 2016, while her cocksure mien on stage is more forbidding than distasteful. “I nearly took Jamie out with my guitar there”, Emma laughs as she slowly-gyrates, jerking on stage to the wonderful next single “I’ve Been Running”, all witchy keyboarding and black horns bookending the star attraction.
A discussed mini album is due for release in May 2017, currently in development with Runrig keyboard player Brian Hurren producing, and it appeared that these new songs were giving an airing judging by the sheet music placed in front of each band member. “I told you that I love you but I lied”, Woods wails and the crowd eat up every word – right up to the final note which neither Woods nor band knows how to finish. The slightly ramshackle nature is endearing, and closing number ‘It’s My Party’ (And You’re Not Invited) is a spit in the eye at the Lesley Gore single from 1965 with Woods tip-toeing to hit out those venomous notes with enough belief to worry the café-dwellers upstairs that something dark is howling below their feet.
Debut LP ‘Into The Light’, with wonderful album cover work and posters provided by Colin McArthur, is due for release in May 2017 and all going well, should be a considerably handsome piece of work by the Medicine Men boys. Opening with 2014 debut single ‘Show What You’re Made Of’, the four-piece quickly demonstrated what they were made of, a pounding meat-factory beat equalled by soaring Hammond organ sounds, the tempo was a far greater energy than anything else that had been on stage thus far. The competency of the band’s musicianship is not in question, as demonstrated by the wicked bass-groove and on B-side ‘Sleeping With The Light On’ or the Gretsch guitars on ‘Ceiling To Floor’, but something grates in the song-writing which fails to preserve the listener’s attention. Sometimes all it takes is one song for a band’s purpose to make sense, and it felt that Medicine Men are on the cusp – but not quite hitting the sweet spot.
Frontman Ian Mackinnon’s haunting guitar and escalating vocal on ‘In The Breeze’ is highly reminiscent of Squeeze’s Glen Tillbrook, and if that is the benchmark then the band’s future looks positive, while penultimate song of the night ‘Bruised Peach’, with its cosmic drum sound was the pick of the night. Thanking LNfG for giving the band the opportunity, the seriousness of the faces on the Medicine Men was apparent – a chance has been given, and hopefully the album will deliver.
Far from being recoiling church mice, electropop quartet BooHooHoo are a thumping, rousing, likeable, and animated rabble whose miscellany of synthesised, ravey sounds appeared to vacuum people towards the raised stage. Ordering one photographer perched at the front-centre to “Fuck off” has never seemed more affectionate than when chief button pusher Richard Richardson is the person lashing out. Since creating guitar-led songs at school together, Richardson and Reggie House, along with drummer Ewan Laing and flutist, keyboardist and all-round Cheshire Cat Lizzie Kiyoko, have added heaps of promise and eighties-sounding samples, with songs such as ‘Now Is The Season’ from 2016 EP “DebutHooHoo” sounding nothing short of phenomenal live. If the party sounds didn’t already corroborate BooHooHoo’s credentials, the slower-paced love estrangement of ‘Biology’ (Apologies to the band if this title is in fact incorrect – this is what happens when your band is so new and your fans are so unapologetically loud and thrilled to see you live) is a gorgeous, cinematic soundtrack with shades of Bryan Ferry’s ‘Slave To Love’, leading into the fat vibrations of ‘Mould Me’ with bass judders, Kiyoko’s surprisingly fitting flute solo, and a catchy hook transmogrifying the audience into an arms-flapping, heel-spinning, wall of body odour at the front of the stage.
Recognising an opportunity, frontman Richardson alerted the crowd to Greg, a cosmic, legging-patterned mover spotted by House dancing in the aisles of Aldi and subsequently became the centre-focus of the video for the new single ‘Fire’. Make space, Glasgow because a basement in Renfield Lane just wasn’t going to cut it. If Prides drummer and EP mixer Lewis Gardiner could just capture enough of that raw energy then the debut album expected in August 2017 will be nothing short of the party album of the year.
Concluding the evening, founding member Murray Easton welcomed Stephen Solo to the stage, armed only with a sky-blue ukulele and a song written on his iPhone for his son who was struggling to sleep. Performing ‘Crying Because’, Solo’s tenderness was a gorgeous finish to proceedings, and one which was warmly received by a mesmerised, attentive crowd who had remained to the very end of the night.
A quickly-rushed raffle was squeezed in as most revellers turned for the exits, but by then everyone had received a prize of some sort – whether that was a new discovery, a favourite song, a moment to put the smile on their face, or a chihuahua wink. Like any first birthday party, people left excited by what the future year ahead will bring – both from Last Night and tomorrow night in Glasgow.
Reviewer : Stephen Watt
Photography : David Wardrop