Deputy Culture Editor – Music
Here lies the future of rock ‘n’ roll.
You haven’t played Glasgow until you’ve played the Barrowlands. Reading-born rockers The Amazons take this opportunity like they are seizing the revered crown of rock royalty, following in the illustrious footsteps of Bowie, Dylan and the Stones at this landmark venue. To play the ‘Barras after having only released two albums is a cracking feat, with their sophomore effort Future Dust applauded as “firmly rooted in classic rock, but never a slave to the past” – think Queens of The Stone Age minus the sleaze. This UK tour is in support of Future Dust, with Geordie-raised trio Demob Happy tagging along for the ride.
Entering the show, I scope out the crowd, establishing a clear divide between the swarm of underagers jammed in at the barrier, and mature Guinness-wielders interspersed liberally at the back. The toilets are a minefield of already-sloshed teens complimenting my Doors band tee, and I hastily exit to avoid getting vomit on my shoes. Settled into the side of the crowd, I watch as support act Demob Happy waltz on stage with the gravitas of an arena band, every member sporting a retro Zeppelin trim. Their brand of grunge psychedelia greets a tentative crowd, not used to the heaviness and avant-garde guitar licks characteristic of the band. A personal highlight is hearing the polluted grooves of Succubus played in the flesh, the lead single from their anarchic debut Dream Soda, and the first song I heard by them back in 2015. Biting guitar hooks broach the borderline sensual, as I am hypnotised by their stage presence. The venue’s sound quality never falters as these robust projections make the experience even more immersive. By this point, the crowd has warmed to their sound, and a guy has mounted on top of someone’s shoulders, throwing confetti and gleefully cutting shapes to the rhythms. Frontman Matt Marcantonio yells “our responsibility is to get everyone moving” as they delve into new single Autoportrait, unleashing a Wayne’s World level of headbanging upon the crowd. Overall, Demob Happy are worthy openers, perhaps even deserving of their own Barras headliner. Truthfully, I was taken aback when I saw their support slot – but like they have mused in the past, they’re a “legacy band” and “six albums deep someone will finally be like,‘they’re amazing’”. Someday lads, someday.
In-between acts the customary “here we fucking go”’ chants kick in, reaching an ear-piercing crescendo as the headliners charge on-stage. Their stage setup is truly magnificent, from the massive neon outline of their Future Dust album cover, to the Peep Show quote “Floss is Boss” emblazoned across their drum kit. From the corner of my eye, I notice that the crowd has now mobilised into action. Whilst they surge towards the barrier, the gliding vocals of Fuzzy Tree seep into the primal drum intro to Mother, the cacophonous lead single from Future Dust. Frontman Matthew Thomson is dressed to impress, sporting a handmade jacket adorned with stars and addressing the crowd with a pitch-perfect vocal finesse. Already spotting the sea of crowdsurfing Fred Perry tees and fishnet tights,Thomson shouts, “I don’t give a fuck what day it is this week, let’s get loose, let’s get wild”. They put on an exemplary show, adapting to the Barras’ stage setting adeptly, moons away from the humble Sleazy’s gigs they were playing at the start of the year. Show highlights include the Iggy Pop inspired 25, dedicated by Thomson to Greta Thunberg, where the lyrics, “not yet 25, too loud to be ignored” ring true for the influential climate change crusader. The mood softens when Thomson rides solo for piano ballad Palace, jokingly stating “pretend I’m Lewis Capaldi” and encouraging the crowd to whip out their iPhone torchlights.
Fundamentally, The Amazons embody the cliche. They don’t try to be different or “edgy” ; they’re just a rock ‘n’ roll band, and a stomping good one at that. Their hour and a half setlist includes a snarling cover of Helter Skelter, Primal Scream’s Movin’ On Up and T Rex’s 20th Century Boy, in a solicitous ode to their rock ‘n’ roll icons. Saving their anthem till last, encore Black Magic transforms the floor space into a trampoline park brimming with pogo-ing limbs, as I bounce into the mosh pit for one last time.
They stated themselves that “Glasgow always feels like the capital of rock ‘n’ roll”. And that’s what The Amazons give; pure, unfiltered rock ‘n’ roll.