Party balloons float over the heads of the audience, most of whom seem to be decked out in tartan bonnets – which don’t look all that naff until you see the words “The Scottish Sun” emblazoned on them. In fact given the tedious wait between bands as well as the odd hurled pint, you could be forgiven for thinking this was an indoors T in the Park.
Edinburgh act ALFONZO were first on but we literally caught their last strum (sounded great, lads!) before one of several time-filling hosts came on. They included some DJs we’d never heard of, Greg Hemphill and hyper T in the Park presenter Shantha Roberts, who has a strange habit of laughing every five seconds for no reason whatsoever.
It was during these interludes that the crowd were told Echo & The Bunnymen would not be appearing as scheduled because of a cancer-related death in the family of a band member. However, absolutely no mention was made of the fact that Alphabeat had also cancelled because they decided to go on Loose Women instead. Strange that.
Because of the number of bands to get through SERGEANT had only 15 minutes to do their thing, and do it acoustically too. We used to think the Glenrothes group were a rip-off of The View, but it now seems like they want to be Cast judging by Nick Mercer’s desire to sing in a Liverpudlian accent.
THE FRATELLIS get the albatross around their neck (Chelsea Dagger) out the way first which, thanks to the wonders of overexposure, now pales in comparison to Flathead and the tremendous Baby Fratelli.
We’ve finally figured out why The Fratellis are such a surprisingly dull live proposition. There’s no denying they’ve got some cracking party songs but Jon Lawer fails to do them any justice as a frontman. Every time we’ve seen him on stage he has been static and unengaging, which is completely at odds with the tempo of his music. Our advice to Jon would be to find a new member to play his guitar and concentrate all his efforts on being a proper performer.
TRAVIS at least offer the night’s first glimpse of some showmanship, but it doesn’t disguise the fact that Fran Healy is having a rotten time. He continually berates the sound guy to turn up the volume, slings his guitar over his shoulder and slams it onto the ground at the end of Side and complains he’s losing his voice as he struggles to find any positives in what he hears on stage.
The quality of their back catalogue just about gets them out of trouble, with Turn, Writing To Reach You, Love Will Come Through and Closer much-needed reminders of what it is they do so well. But Fran’s constant head-shaking either at himself or the noticeably poor sound that has come to be expected at the Carling Academy makes for a flat spectacle.
No doubt sponsors The Scottish Sun will tell their readers that Travis wowed the crowd.
4 Attic Lights – Bring You Down
b December 31, Waverley Stage, Edinburgh (tickets)
b January 17, ABC, Glasgow (tickets)
4 The Fratellis – Baby Fratelli
b December 19, Caird Hall, Dundee (tickets)
b December 21, SECC, Glasgow (rescheduled from December 20, Print Factory) (tickets)
4 Travis – 20