Three firsts for me tonight.
First time in The Bungalow, first time I’ve seen Southern Approach live & first time I’ve see Theatre of Hate live.
The Bungalow, Paisley
The Bungalow didn’t let me down.
Unassuming from the outside, but a perfect intimate venue for a gig inside. The venue has loads of great vantage points to watch the bands and with a great line up of acts due to visit, I’m sure I’ll be back
Southern Approach didn’t let me down.
The Kilmarnock band had formed over 30 years ago but split up before they released an album, due to public demand according to frontman Munro. They reformed last year, recorded and released their debut album “Restitution”. The album is packed full of epic songs which we were treated to tonight.
The band ripped through their 10 tracks, kicking things off with album opener “Break in The Circle”. Munro has a commanding voice complemented by luscious harmonies from Shirley Guthrie. The band were tight through their set and treated us to one hook laden track after another. Songs like “Shake” & “Killing Fields” & “The Traveller” are titanic soundscapes with instantly memorable refrains.
Judging by the number of CDs they shifted on the night, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed their set. This was great for the band as tonight’s gig was a big deal for them having originally been called Legion after the Theatre of Hate song of the same name.
And to complete the set, Theatre of Hate didn’t let me down either. I’d seen Kirk Brandon live before in various guises, but this was the first time I’d seen Theatre of Hate.
It was a different story for the majority of tonight’s packed out crowd. Bass legend Stan Stammers mentioning having played the original incarnation of the Bungalow 30+ years ago. From the reaction of the gathered masses, there were a fair number present who had been at that gig.
The band of Kirk Brandon. Stan Stammers, Adrian Portas and Chris Bell with Clive filling John “Boy” Lennard’s shoes were on prime form. The 18 tracks played at the gig borrowed from the entire back catalogue of the band, including 5 tracks from 2016’s Kinshi. The newer songs sat perfectly alongside the old Theatre of Hate favourites.
Right from the off the intensity was pronounced. The opening trio of classics, “Rebel Without a Brain” and debut single “Original Sin” sandwiching “Black Irony” from Kinshi, set out the bands manifesto for the rest of the gig.
The sax is a fantastic instrument when played well, and tonight was a great example. There was no John “Boy” Lennard tonight due to family circumstances (thoughts are with John) but Clive ably filled his shoes. Not many alternative/rock bands can get away with a sax player. With Theatre of Hate, it is vital part of their sound. A perfect foil to the power of the bands lyrics and crashing guitars.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Kirk introduced “My Own Invention” as “a tender song about mass murderers”. The band followed it up with “The Maintenance Man” a song about “the ones who clean up after them” complete with a nod to Harvey Keitel’s roles in Point of No Return and Pulp Fiction.
Brandon alternated between playing guitar and dancing in his unique style when not playing. Taking to the side of the stage at times to give the rest of the band their place, he was evidently lost in the music. At one point I did think that he and Richard Jobson could challenge each other to a dad dance-off.
Unfortunately for him, no-one took him up on his request for ice cream at the start of “Triumph” which he introduced as “(sounding) like ice cream music to me”.
One of my own personal favourites, “Judgement Hymn” notched the atmosphere up a level. There was a discernible increase in the energy and exuberance from much of the assembled hoard.
As the band reached the climax of their set with “Poppies”, “Solution” and “Legion” there was an outbreak of vigorous dancing in the “pit”. This initially created a bit of tension which threatened to spill over, this was picked up by Kirk who urged the crowd not to “hurt each other”.
In the main though, the atmosphere was good natured. Everyone finding their place and enjoying the gig in their own way. As the band returned for the brace of “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” and “Propaganda”, I turned round and saw a sea of people with huge smiles on their faces. Energetic dancing and singing continued right to the end with a rush of people looking to shake the bands hands before they exited.
A great night’s entertainment. As I said hello to a few folk before I left, I heard a number uttering phrases like “gig of the year”. Proof if needed that the auld yins can still show the youth how to do things right.