Help me out here. Why is it that when bands come to play in Scotland they always want to impress us with some kind of Scottishness? Especially bands from across the pond, Canada in this case. Tonight we get chat about Robert Burns (it’s Burns day the following day), 30 seconds or so of a kind of rock n’ roll ceilidh music, a request to anyone in the crowd who has a baby sheep the band can hang out with (“That’ll be a lamb” someone correctly yells back) and the obligatory mimicked Scottish accent. Incidentally, Molly nails the accent way better than anyone I’ve heard before, absolutely perfect. Thankfully the band have resisted the urge to wear kilts and the crowd don’t burst into a rendition of ‘Flower of Scotland’. I can’t even put my finger on why this occasionally irritates me. Does this happen in other cities / countries? I’d love to know.
None of the above is a criticism of Alvvays who seem genuinely delighted to be here. They’re clearly enjoying themselves and so are the crowd. King Tuts is absolutely rammed tonight and there’s the expectant buzz of seeing a band who are heading for bigger things. Throughout their 50 minute set they have the audience on a string. Alec pleasantly waves at the people who can’t quite squeeze onto the main floor, Molly tries to encourage security to allow dancing in-between the stage and the stupid crash barriers, Kerri downs a birthday tequila bought at the request of the band. She’ll no doubt end up plastered if the band go drinking in the same bars as their fans after the show. Their confidence and charisma shine between songs as well as during them.
There’s a bit of bite added to the live sound of Alvvays. The songs sound that little bit harder and livelier than they do on record as you’d probably expect. The better known singles ‘Next of Kin’ and ‘Archie, Marry Me’ are played early in the set, the latter being received particularly well in a mass sing-along. Alec dedicates it to Norman Blake which seems very fitting, not that they sound like Teenage Fanclub per se, but there are definite parallels with all the glorious melodies and harmonies on display.
They sail through pretty much the entire album and a few other songs with aplomb. We all bop away during the upbeat indie jangle and nod our way through the more sombre keyboard led songs. Molly’s voice is captivating. She delivers on every song, joy one minute, despair the next. Her bandmates back her up extremely well but she’s undoubtedly the centre of attention and has the stage presence to back it all up. Together they make bittersweet indie-pop songs that are close to perfect. They’re at their best during the faster, buzzier songs, hopping around on stage and looking desperate to ramp up the volume and get the party started. They have the confidence to end their set with a new song (possibly called ‘Haircut’) which sounds extremely promising for any future records. Not usually a crowd pleasing move but I don’t witness any discontent whatsoever.
As we head down a dreary and wet St Vincent Street towards town there’s a guy clutching his gig poster and new t-shirt, excitedly showing them off to whoever he thinks was at the gig. Everyone seems a bit lighter on their feet, smiling and satisfied despite the weather. Alvvays will have that effect on you, they make everything seem that little bit brighter.