The Swampers brought their riff laden latest album to the live environment and after hearing it prior to the show I can confirm it is a cracker and live the band just took it to another level.
Support for tonight were very familiar faces in Last Alibi, not to mention having some of the band members that are headlining tonight but they are seen regularly treading the boards here in Glasgow, showing off their brand of sleaze rock that never fails to entertain.
The members from SBA take to the stage first as if they have not got a long enough night before them but they are unphased and once singer Jamie Ramage takes the stage in his crazy goth(black) Parrot hair(I am just jealous) the show begins and what a show it was.
I have seen this band many times but tonight they stepped it up a gear. With their new(yes, this is a running joke) EP they have delivered the best sleaze songs(outside of the hallowed LA Guns) I have heard in decades.
With just four songs it is still a powerhouse and showcases Andy’s amazing fretwork, an incredible rhythm section and Jamie’s gravely, throat cut 5 years ago vocals to perfection. We get the inclusion of the best in “Generation Dead” and the anthem from yesteryear brought into the present in “ The Prophet and the Thief”.
We also get a brand new song which sounded excellent, tie that in with a guest spot from Charlie Moffat and a harmonica duel unfolded. Another step forward for Last Alibi and another reason for me to keep shouting their name from the rooftops.
Before we got to the main event there was a very touching moment when proceedings were stopped to celebrate a life lost, a brave young man in Ian McDonald recently lost his battle with illness. Ian was a big fan of the Swampers and his parents are always to be found at gigs in this city, they are very much loved and Ian is going to be greatly missed so this was an incredible moment where the music paid its tributes to those that keep the wagons rolling. RIP Ian and rock on forever.
As the lights go down the stage is filled with smoke, the gravestones are misting over and a lantern, lectern and skull are illuminated and the show has begun and for many this is the first listen to the album and I loved seeing the smiles on their faces.
Opener “Crank it Up” is a step in a different direction for the band and when I heard it on the album I had to check I had the right band on. If there was piercing screams this could be early Judas Priest, it is heavy as hell and like the rest of the album laden with riffs.
Singer Charlie is a well loved character in Glasgow, even across genres as he fronts a punk band too so the audience is very mixed and very attuned to Charlies humour, he also gives us a little insight into what is behind the new songs. “Rise Up” may be a historical story around the Scots but I suspect it will be a song for the future in this country too…and check out the bass on this one, Allen Bell proves his mastery of the four string guitar.
A song that has been played live before in “Weeping Tree” is given new meaning as we hear this heavy assed rocker is about the ancient pagan art of hand tying…are they going soft (it is OK, the answer is no).
The main thing that separates SBA from the multitude of excellent bands that Glasgow has to offer is Charlie’s harmonica. It is a brilliant tool to send things in a different direction and when he slips it out of his pouch (ooer missus) you are fixated. I am not 100% sure but it felt as if it was not as prominent on this album as previous release but as long as this is kept in the equation they will always have that little spark of difference.
This is a band that entertains, this is a band that are built to play live and this is a band that deserves to be heard far and wide and I think “Dead Mans Train” could be the vehicle to the next step…they deserve it.
Images and words Ritchie Birnie