There’s a certain excitement, a bit of a buzz (I was even going to use the word ‘frisson’ there, but it’s a word I’ve never actually used before, so it feels a bit pretentious) about seeing a band you’ve never seen before and not quite knowing what to expect.
I’ve heard Post War Glamour Girls on record loads of times, and they come highly recommended, but I’ve never seen them live, and that’s what tonight is all about. On top of which I’ve never heard support band WAKE, but I’m full of anticipation, mainly because our photographer Graeme likes them and he’s an extremely discerning judge of all things loud and energetic.
And loud and energetic are exactly what WAKE turn out to be, in fact they’re possibly the most ear-splittingly loud duo I’ve heard in a long time. Equal parts youthful exuberance, blistering riffs, scorching drumming and more swagger than you can shake a stick at. It’s always interesting when you recognise absolutely nothing that’s being played, but I enjoyed it immensely. One discerning gig-goer, standing to my left, likens them to Royal Blood fronted by Jack White. I can see what he means.
When I interviewed James of Post War Glamour Girls recently, he promised that tonight’s gig would be “better than average”. It’s hardly a poster tagline to bring the crowds flocking to The Head of Steam in Newcastle, but tonight Post War Glamour Girls certainly are (colossally) better than average. James, thoughtful and engaging in conversation, takes off his glasses once on stage, sparking a transformation into a brooding David Byrne-style front man, mesmerising and chaotic, so lost in the performance that at one stage he loses his microphone and one of the gathered faithful has to retrieve it for him.
Recently released single ‘Southpaw Stance’ is the band’s opener and it sets the standard for what is to follow, a mixture of the familiar and the not so familiar. ‘Gustave’ gets a tremendous airing, I’m pleased to say, along with three impressive tracks from last year’s Pink Fur, and a number of promising newer tracks, my favourite of which is ‘Pollyanna’, introduced as “here’s a song that’s going to be on our third album”. Pretty good going when you consider they’ve still to release their second.
Throughout the night the band are polished and exciting, with more than a hint of danger and menace and a wonderful turn of lyrical dry humour. It’s one of those performances that leaves you uncertain whether to be amused or fearful and it walks the tightrope between both rather brilliantly. Possibly needless to say, they close, of course, with the mighty ‘Sestra’ which builds from extreme sparseness to extreme darkness in a few short minutes. Then James puts his specs back on again and, sadly, it’s all over.
Reviewer: Neil Pace Photographer: Graeme Baty