I bloody love King Tut’s. It’s got a funny name. It’s sticky and beery and wee bit rough around the edges. I want to steal all of the band posters in the bar and take them home with me. The legendary steps are like an indie yellow brick road, leading eager gig- goers to musical Shangri-La (I know, I’m mixing my popular culture metaphors, but you get the jist). And they don’t mind if you stand on the furniture. If I could live there I probably would.
This month Tut’s are celebrating 25 astonishing years of live music and they’ve pulled out all of the stops. With sets from The LaFontaines, The Cribs and The Twilight Sad selling out in no time, and garnering rave reviews already this month, Scottish festival stalwarts Vigo Thieves were tipped as a highlight, and justly so.
Support act The Hearts were a pleasant surprise, and an excellent warm up for what would be a high energy night. The Welsh up and comers’ new track ‘Lips’ is a belter, and this is a band most definitely worthy of further investigation.
I had just finished bemoaning the necessary evil that is the break between support and main act (that hiatus where the energy level in the room dips and nobody knows what to do with themselves) when The Killers ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ blasted out as the band’s intro track. The crowd reacted in spectacular fashion, maniacally chanting ‘Vigo’, and the mood was set. I was already hyper, in large part due to the novelty value of getting to stand on the aforementioned furniture.
Vigo Thieves are undoubtedly at their best performing live. Having played TITP for three consecutive years, in addition to supporting The Courteeners (who also play Tut’s this week), and packing out the 02 Academy twice in 2014, their craft is well and truly honed. Confidence and passion ooze from the band, and the crowd instantly picked up on this and fedback accordingly. Frontman Stevie Jukes, a consummate performer, was literally bouncing off the ceiling at points, as he flung himself into the crowd with mad aplomb (I always feel sorry for the poor sod on security who has to untangle artists and get them back on stage after a good crowd surf). Jukes worked the room beautifully, and in true Scottish style. A particular highlight was him ordering everyone to “get their fucking arses down the front and bouncing”, which they of course did with relish.
Musically, Vigo Thieves are all about the anthems. Utilising variations on a few signature guitar riffs, combined with thumping piano chords, over a number of tracks renders them instantly recognisable, and firmly entrenched in this listener’s head for the remainder of the evening. ‘Believe’, written for the Scottish National Team’s Euro 2016 campaign, was always going to be a colossal crowd pleaser in front of a home crowd (and if it couldn’t spur the team on to success then bugger all will). ‘This Love’ and ‘Forever’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a 50,000 capacity stadium and ‘Heartbeats’ was fever-pitched and frenetic, with just enough of Jukes’ accent creeping in to appeal to my unapologetically patriotic side.
‘This Love’, furiously fast-paced, with a banging percussionist bass, left everyone in a sweaty, happy mess, and set highlight ‘Ghosts’ included a magnificent solo from an exceptionally talented saxophonist, who paradoxically looked like he should have been working the door. Admittedly, Jukes let the crowd do most of the work for the quieter numbers, but then this is a band that are without a shadow of a doubt at their strongest when banging out rock anthems. Their musical influences are clear, with more than a hint of U2 and Simple Minds, yet their verve for performing keeps their sound undeniably current.
Vigo Thieves have been fairly tight lipped about the possibility of an album release, and really, when they’re clearly having the time of their lives playing live, who can blame them. And, in a culture of musical cynicism, where every ‘one to watch’ is competing to be more original, fresh and experimental, perhaps we all need a good anthem every now and again.