Review: Pale Waves and Sports Team @ Barrowlands Ballroom

Credit: Rory Barnes

Robbie Cathcart

Robbie Cathcart reviews the goth-pop dynamics of Pale Waves on their first show of the tour, alongside spirited support act Sports Team.

Last month saw Pale Waves make their first stop on a UK tour at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom. The night kicked off with support act, Sports Team. The six-piece band consists of songwriter and guitarist, Rob Gnaggs; guitarist, Henry Young; bass guitarist, Oli Dewdney; keyboard player, Ben Mac; drummer, Al Greenwood; and electrifying frontman, Alex Rice. Formed at Cambridge University, they’ve since proven to the UK that guitar-led music is anything but dead. Swaggering on stage in an assortment of suits and leather jackets, Sports Team began with drums pulsing throughout the room, soon joined by spine-tingling guitar riffs, harmonica solos and egg shakers. They went on to play many of their fan favourites, including Here It Comes Again and Margate, as well as one of their much more recent songs, Fishing. When their set came to a climactic crescendo with Kutcher, Sports Team humbly bid farewell and left the stage. After lots of eager clapping every time a stage hand crossed the stage, finally, Pale Waves arrived.

As the masses pushed forward, Pale Waves blasted off with their song Eighteen, full of poetic lyrics, nostalgic guitar tones and bass lines that could be felt in the feet of passers-by. In between fan favourites New Years Eve and Stay The Night, lead singer, Heather Baron-Gracie, let fans know that they’ll be recording a brand new album after they finish their tour whilst waving a bra that was thrown on stage two songs before. She was sporting her trademark goth-girl aesthetic, channelling 80’s era Siouxie Sioux. To great cheers from the crowd, Baron-Gracie spoke about her half-Scottish heritage and Pale Waves’ first Scottish gig in the iconic King Tut’s.

The band started to show some problems, however, during My Obsession and Drive. During these songs, drummer, Ciara Doran, noticeably began to struggle to keep up with the faster-paced songs. Maybe it was due to the band needing to shake off a few cobwebs from the first gig of their tour, or maybe another of countless unknown reasons; but this issue led to the band taking a short break off-stage. Shortly after, Baron-Gracie returned alone, armed with only her acoustic guitar to play a notably underperformed song, Karl (I wonder what it’s like to die). Although most likely to give Doran some time to relax and catch her breath, the switch to acoustic guitar was surprisingly natural and was a very refreshing change from the almost-cliché 80s guitar sound. Finishing with lyrics that made the entire crowd’s hairs stand up on the back of their necks, the other three members re-joined their lead singer to finish up with their very first single that gave them worldwide attention: There’s A Honey. As this was the only song I knew all the lyrics to, I had great fun finally joining in with others to sing the entire song. Although the drummer seemed to be back on top form, it’s also worth noting the concert finished twenty minutes early, most likely to avoid any more mishaps.

Pale Waves loom likely to be absent from any concert line-up for some time after their mention of a hiatus, however Sports Team will be following in their footsteps, playing King Tut’s on 27 November. I’m pretty confident in saying that this will be a night and a band you won’t want to miss out on.


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