THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD IN A CLOTHES SHOP – EVER!
It all happened very quickly – Tuesday afternoon was when I first heard about it, and by 4.30pm on Thursday 4th August I was there. The location was the Replay clothing store in Glasgow’s Ingram Street. Everything seemed to have gone perfectly – a quick glance at Google StreetView before leaving home was all the route planning I had done yet when I stopped just after leaving the M8 to enter my destination into the SatNav I discovered that it was only 250m away on the right, and there was a multi-story car park right in front of me on the left!
Just what was the reason for me travelling over eighty miles to get to a clothes shop? Quite simply, it was excellent music – specifically, the opportunity to see Dimbleby & Capper perform live in Scotland for the first time; but also to see The Stagger Rats live for the first time. Replay had organised a promotional series of in-store gigs in advance of the Bestival Festival, Isle if Wight (8th to 11th September). Two other bands were on the bill, one was The Imagineers, whose name I seemed to have memories of coming across previously; the fourth band were not to be announced until the evening got under way.
As it was a free gig with entry on a ‘first come first served’ basis I arrived early and was keen to ensure that I could get in. A very helpful assistant by the name of Lindsay pointed me in the direction of good food and assured me that I would be able to gain access after I had eaten. When I returned, Lindsay even helped by taking a photograph of Laura and I, something that I had never got round to doing previously. Sound checks were well under way by then and I started to chat with others who were there. Chris (Replay’s Marketing Manager) provided further details, Bob (The Stagger Rats’ Manager) brought me up to date with the band’s recent exploits, and Lisa (from No Half Measures) informed me that the fourth, and headlining band, were Go Go Bot, a band that I remembered from ‘The Jan & Shirley Show’ on Generate Radio.
The first band up were The Imagineers complete with acoustic six string, acoustic bass, semi-acoustic guitar and drum kit, got the evening under way. The semi-acoustic player looked particularly intense as he focussed on being part of a very tight unit. I found their sound to be quite retro in style with jangly guitars that at times were reminiscent of the finest surf guitars of the 1960s. One number was introduced ‘Wild West Show’ style, “Ladies & Gentlemen, we’d like to welcome you to a show …….” A very determined and energetic performance, enhanced by lovely Scottish accents. A movement below the lead singer’s machine head caught my eye, on closer inspection I confirmed a broken top string. Such was the intensity of his playing a second string had broken before the set came to an end. How would one catalogue The Imagineers, what genre did they play? Contemporary folk-rock? Personally I don’t really care, I simply know that they rocked and I enjoyed it!
By the end of the first set, the shop must have been pretty much at capacity and after a fairly quick change-over Dimbleby & Capper were ready to go. Not only was this the first time D&C aka Laura had played in Scotland, it was the first time that I had seen her play accompanied by other musicians. As an additional surprise, it was a very rare occasion for her supporting musicians to appear without masks! Josh adopted a seat behind the drum kit kindly lent by The Stagger Rats, whilst Simon alternated between bass and helping out on the drums.
Opening track was ‘CashCow’, something that I had heard for the first time in Birmingham. ‘LyreBaby’ then ‘Let You Go’ quickly followed, then a new track to me ‘Educated’, a very welcome addition to D&C’s growing repertoire. The wonderfully fun cover of The Crystals’ ‘Then He Kissed Me’ led into ‘Want This’ which has morphed since I first heard it into an even more powerful number accompanied by driving tribal bass beats. I feel so privileged to have been able to experience D&C’s musical output develop in a very exciting way, with continued hints of even better to come. Sadly, although I would have wanted much more, ‘Want This’ turned out to be the penultimate number and led into the closing one which was another new one to me. I still have to discover what it is titled, possibly ‘LadyLover’, I can’t be sure about that, but I will clearly remember Laura’s interesting choreographed gestures to accompany her lyrics describing her intentions with regard to where she was planning to “rest” her “heartache”!
Next I had to move aside from where I had been standing to watch as The Stagger Rats’ gear was set up, this included a wonderful, clearly cherished, Hammond organ. The band were soon installed and blasted off – Hammond power underscored a clear determination to ensure that we would remember this performance for a long time. Despite the urgency and drive of the Hammond, the keyboard player, Callum, couldn’t have been more laid back and he injected a degree of humour with some of his comments to the audience. As with The Imagineers, I’m not interested in trying to categorise the content of the set. My musical tastes encompass so many different styles and that is quite probably why I enjoyed them so much – definitely not a band where every song sounds the same. There was great variety of texture and depth to the set, all bound together by a very tight rhythm section and raised up by the amazing Hammond organ. Vocals were shared, with both singers bringing more pleasing Scottish accents into play.
I had first heard of The Stagger Rats a few moths previously when I met Callum’s mother at a gig in Edinburgh’s Sneaky Petes. Since then she has kept me regularly informed about what the band had been getting up to. It was great to finally see them live. A video for their new song ‘Fuzzy, Fuzzy’ was released following this gig with the song being made available for download soon after (check out the links at the end of this post).
Due to the helpful sharing of equipment the fourth band were soon playing. The slickness of the changeovers put a lot of dedicated venues to shame and I would gladly return to Replay for another gig in future. This evening was, in fact, the first in a series of three leading up to the Bestival event. The other two being scheduled for Replay stores in Carnaby Street and Covent Garden.
Go Go Bot added yet another style of music into the evening’s cocktail, they are promoted as a ‘synth disco trio’ but I personally find that a fairly unhelpful label and again find myself categorising them simply as ‘a band that I like’. I know that my reluctance to label may make my little ‘reviews’ fairly meaningless, but I don’t really write them to try to impress others by demonstrating a dazzling ability to churn out clever sounding comparisons and put downs. In fact, if I ever came across a disappointing gig, band or album, I would most likely choose not to write anything rather than write anything negative.
Anyway – back to Go Go Bot! This turned out to be yet another inspiring, high energy and varied performance. Some of their songs sounded vaguely familiar due to some of them having been previously played on ‘The Jan & Shirley Show’ – Generate Radio continuing to prove its determination to seek to promote new Scottish talent. I fully believe that the directors Kyle and Oscar really have earned the station’s nomination for The 2011 Scottish New Music Awards and wish them all the best for the Award Ceremony to be held in Glasgow next month.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all concerned for such a great evening.
Replay – for hosting, organising, providing the free bar, and particularly for flying Dimbleby & Capper up from London.
All bands – The Imagineers, Dimbleby & Capper, The Stagger Rats and Go Go Bot, for such brilliant music.
Lindsay for all her help.
Rab Ha’s – for Cusquena and wonderfully tasty fajitas
Clash video summary
The Stagger Rats, ‘Fuzzy, Fuzzy’