Vigo Thieves at The Ironworks. Friday 19th September 2014. A review.
Every time I sit down to write these reviews I’m tempted to start a serious conversation about what precisely is, ‘indie’ or ‘punk’ or indeed contemporary – you’ll be pleased to know now is not the time, but it is nonetheless a preface to tonight’s very mixed bag.
It’s been a while since I last saw Spoke Too Soon and they have not been idle. An EP has been produced, they won a Battle of The Bands competition and there has been a personnel change. This evening I thought that they had developed they’re overall sound – it’s the width of a plectrum sometimes but whereas last time (on balance) their ‘punky pop’ influences were more to the fore, this evening it was definitely a more traditional rock feel.
I do wonder if the punk edge is declared because Joe’s voice is definitely more suited to straightforward bar-chord punk pop than a heavier rock vibe. In that respect it did clash a wee bit – that style of vocal was a bit out of kilter with the overall sound. And angst: jeezo lyrically they do angst-max to the extent where they were drifting into alienated emo-goth territory rather than a disaffected punk landscape.
That aside, maybe a little too elaborate on some of the arrangements, sometimes they build up a head of steam to drop it to showcase a more intricate extended guitar-fest middle eight. That head of steam is grounded in solid bass and drums (short hair and beards) but it allows the twin guitars (afro hairstyles) to mess about a bit too much. One big plus point (others take note), they took the time and effort to have a merchandise stand; I was impressed with that.
Never too old to learn, could be an angst-ridden account from STS, but it refers rather to my introduction to Inertia. I have watched in appreciation as Ian Mackenzie has produced delicate ambient soundscapes in collaboration with Caroline Truslove – tonight I think I met his alter ego: this was full on, dark, heavy, intense and impressive. I had thought that Spoke Too Soon were a little bit subdued, certainly reserved in their performance, can’t say the same for Inertia, they were into their stride from the off and clearly having a great time.
So, what happens when you indulge a variety of influences form various band members that includes for example, blues, heavy rock and death metal? Seems you create something that is at once familiar and unique. It’s not my scene, you’ll find some blues in my record collection but that’s about it.
That said, I’m no stranger to classic rock and I have experienced some death metal. But, when you mould these together and slow down the frenzy of death metal then what you get is an intensity that rocks you back on your heels. Ian Mackenzie has a seriously good classic rock voice that flips into that dark, intense death metal roar with ease and to great effect. Now, I have since discovered that this is called ‘stoner rock’ – I loved it, but don’t take my word for it: get along to Mad Hatters on the 15th November and check it out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
How does an ‘indie’ band determined to produce anthemic sing-a-long stadium pop follow that? Well, if anyone can then it’s Vigo Thieves. They’re star is on the rise so to speak. Currently unsigned, they are drawing big crowds in Glasgow and receiving consistently favourable reviews for their Heart and Soul EP. They don’t stray too far from the template of big choruses, big synth driven sound, driving drum and bass and lots of ohoh oh oh oh oh ohohoh type moments, particularly in ‘Believe’.
They wear their influences on their sleeve so to speak, but I’m not convinced that they have managed, in a pretty crowded part of the market, to be truly distinctive and unique – I found myself reminiscing about Prides. ‘Blood Red’ was both inspirational and mundane, grabbed your attention and had you bouncing along but with a Big Country guitar sound and feel albeit just shy of the full bagpipe sound.
They inhabit the stage pretty well, they look good and whatever I might think of the musicality, it was a big full comprehensive sound: and pleasant. What I found curious was that they are clearly used to playing to a much bigger crowd and hadn’t quite adjusted to that.
Mounting the barrier to bump knuckles with the one guy who was there was a tad Spinal Tap. But, elsewhere in the hall they were bouncing, singing and chanting along in all the right places.
The band enjoyed it the crowd enjoyed it and one of the most wonderful mix of acts I have witnessed outside of a festival can take a collective bow.