Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Live Review :: Toothless :: Stereo, Glasgow - Feb 27 2017
February 27 2017
Words/Pictures: Richard Cobb
“We aren’t breaking up, but….” The soul crushing words that no child ever wants to hear their beloved parents say. Only much worse, it’s not your parents saying it, it’s one of your favourite bands. Bombay Bicycle Club announcing an extended hiatus at the start of last year was the raisins inside the cake of shit that was 2016; but with a promising debut single ‘Terra’ a few short months later from bassist Ed Nash’s new project Toothless, there were some reasons to be cheerful. There was a real sense of intrigue about what would follow after he swapped four strings for six and took up the centre forward role in his new band.
Just under a year later and Toothless fresh from releasing their debut album, ‘The Pace of the Passing’, last month, set sail on their maiden voyage of the UK. First stop: Glasgow. Opening the night was Liz Lawrence (Bombay Bicycle Club touring singer) performing a solo set comprising mainly of a backing track, vocals and guitar. I was initially mortified for her as there was barely anyone in the venue when she took to the stage at a little after seven, but thankfully she’s in Toothless too, so the crowd would fill out a great deal by her second set of the evening. Whilst a tough gig, she took it in her stride and had some really catchy upbeat and experimental eastern sounding songs in her short set.
Glasgow’s art-rock quartet ‘West Princes’ were on next. I liked that they had met Ed at an art school party previously and he invited them to support them off the back of a promise made that night that they would play a gig together (Ed would later make mention of this during the headliner’s set). They were an ideal band to warm up the crowd on a bitterly cold Monday night. Sounding a bit like a softer, more melodic Peace, they had decent tunes and even better dance moves, with their guitarist and bassist grooving themselves into oblivion for the duration of their 30-minute stage time.
Numbers-wise, the gig has picked up a bit, but it’s still far from being sold out. Kings of Leon being on round the corner at The Hydro has no doubt had a large bearing on the turnout here sadly, but it hasn’t affected the performances in any way from the first two acts, and the headliners were up next to prove it wouldn’t bother them either.
Toothless, accompanied by Ed’s BBC bandmate Suren on drums, opened with ‘Charon.’ It made for a low-key, but musically impressive introduction, with looping backing vocals, an unassuming guitar line and gentle percussion throughout. Kicking it up a notch, ‘You Thought I Was’ followed. This brought the crowd to life and by this point they filled in the dreaded semi-circular gap of confusion that nobody really knows why, but seems to be ever present at gigs, as though people have watched one too many Glastonbury’s and come to the conclusion that a 10 feet gap at the front of every gig is necessary.
No doubt the best crowd reaction of the night was at the halfway point when new single ‘Sisyphus’ got an airing. There’s so many layers to this song and it’s to the band's credit that they nailed it. It is possibly one of their catchiest and it reminded me of Manitoba's (now Caribou) 'Crayon' with more instruments. At its conclusion, the band are visibly beaming and it definitely brought them out of their shell seeing how well it went down.
After an emphatic finale of ‘Party For Two’, it’s great to see the transition from quiet bass player to frontman in the space of 12 months, and although stage chat is kept to a minimum, there’s an air of confidence in Nash and his band in their songs and the remainder of the tour will no doubt help them 'cut their teeth' as a live act.