This was a gig I nearly didn’t get to review. The show has been sold out for 6 months so it was a night of relying on scalpers and folk with spare tickets. Face value? Around 20 quid, I paid 35 quid……fuck scalpers. But was it worth it? Too fucking right (though it meant no tour shirt for me!).
For some bizarre reason, the band were booked to play the 02 ABC, a far smaller venue than their usual Glasgow haunts that they normally set out, or sell well; the Academy and the much loved Barrowlands.
Perhaps it was an effort to stop Joel climbing the rigging and PA as the ABC isn’t the most climbable of terrains, this didn’t slow him down though. Three songs in and he’s off stage soloing on top of the merch stand.
There’s something insanely satisfying about walking into a venue and seeing a massive bank of Marshall stacks all lined up and glowing. Coupled with an explorer guitar you have one of the classic heavy sounds and visuals right there.
Opening with the Terminator 2 theme they burst on with Ready to Rock. Vocally, this was a good performance. There have been some videos where he has struggled to hit the notes (but when you’re singing like you’re gargling Jack Daniels flavoured glass, you can expect some damage) but he’s on fire here. In reality though, when there’s this much energy, you forgive slip ups.
If you want perfect, the albums right there but if you want a good show, this is the right place. You hear people claim they eat, breathe and shit rock n roll. Joel IS rock n roll. He eats, breathes, drinks, shits rock n roll, if he got a swab test his DNA would probably be RNR.
The new album was represented well with Black Dog Barking being a personal live highlight, the slight pauses where the bass drops out for a second leads to one hell of a mighty thump when it all kicks back in a second later.
The sound, as you’d expect from the Marshall Stonehenge, could accurately be described as loud as fuck but also solid as fuck. A meaty sounding bottom end really helped the band pack a punch.
The walls of death were slightly hilarious though, the music is just that tiny bit too slow for the big battle walls, instead the crowd sort of..hopped towards one another in a confused mini charge. Not that they didn’t enjoy themselves, they jumped, pitted, screamed and generally sweated along with the show from beginning to end.
Being Scotland, Chewin’ The Fat was added to the set (sharing its name with a Scottish comedy show), and their traditional burst of Scotland The Brave is what really got the crowd going. Every time I’ve seen them here, this snippet always seems to send the crowd into overdrive.
Live It Up opened the encore, with Joel taking to the top of the Marshall stacks as an air raid siren was sounded below. It’s small things like that, it’s not pyro, it’s not big or clever, but it’s the raw energy that makes you miss this sort of balls out music. No “post-something” or “technical-jazz-deth-core.” Just rock and just fun.
Runnin’ Wild closed the show, no matter how many times you hear this song live, it just never gets old. Never underestimate a HEY HEY HEY in a song. Drunk people can’t remember lyrics, but they can remember a HEY and by fuck do they go for it. The crowd appreciates the final HEY opportunity before Joel screams a final speech about rock n roll. With that they bugger off into the night, no doubt to be badass somewhere else.