There’s a lot of pleasure to be found in a live band who have an album in the bag and are playing small shows before its release. There’s no weight of people hoping to hear their favourites, the venues are more intimate and you’d imagine there’d be a hunger for the cut and thrust of the live shows again. After the departure of Caroline McKay, Glasvegas are also breaking in a new drummer and State are delighted to see from the off that it’s a she (Jonna Löfgren, a young Swede – protective front-man James Allan has said publicly he’ll fight anyone even looking at her), and she’s playing in the trademark standing position.
Jonna kicks things off by pounding out the intro to ‘The World Is Yours’ the first song released from the upcoming album and, eh, nothing else happens despite the band all looking like they are playing and singing. So just drums for the first minute but the sound gremlins are soon fixed and like finding that you hadn’t plugged your headphones in all the way, our ears are washed with the Scots’ new sound – it’s a slight upgrade, more cinematic but still saturated with James Allan’s raw, drawling and accented vocals. As a front man his poise is distinct – some parts laid-back cool, some rock n’ roll swagger, of course, but then humility and genuine appreciation of the crowd too.
The as yet unreleased ‘Shine Like Stars’ song knocks out on the first listen and certainly bodes well for the album. The old songs are still sounding fresh, though the small venue actually seems to clip them somewhat. It seems the bigger the room the more songs like ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart…’ expand to fill it (as seen in the 8,000-capacity Arena tent at Roskilde). ‘Polmont On My Mind’ tests the new drummer and she is well capable and committed (her fingers keep blistering and require regular bandaging side-stage). A cover of ‘Be My Baby’ sweetens things up (but only slightly – there’s still a gutteral feeling to it) but the widescreen road-movie song of the evening is the new ‘Euphoria Take My Hand’, the sort of song that could mean a thousand things to a thousand people. On a post-release tour this will surely be a highlight, though the Danes are harder nuts to crack on first listen.
Reworked with nothing but some minimal synth, ‘Flowers & Football Tops’ shows that at least the band are trying to expand on the songs they’ve been playing for two years. It’s no critique to say the band haven’t found a better final song than ‘Daddy’s Gone’, nor would we want them to. Allan bravely turns the chorus’ refrain over to the crowd, and just when we’re lost in our own attempt at singing, our new drummer delivers the booming sucker punch for the final hurrah. As good as it was (and it was), tonight was the sound of a band warming themselves up for bigger things – both bigger venues and swelled hearts.
Photos by Jakob Bekker-Hansen