Live review: The Walkmen at ABC, 28/10/12

When your current live set is littered with highlights owing to your latest album rather than relying on the fall back of previous success you know a band is on top of their game.

That’s not to say The Walkmen shunned their now more than impressive back catalogue, even finding time to treat the ABC with never before played outtake ‘Weight On My Shoulders’.

As the band confess themselves, without perhaps getting the recognition one may crave, The Walkmen have “been round the blocks”.

Still, they manage to pack many a punch as a live outfit, effortlessly flipping between their latest offering’s, Heaven, parent friendly mellow anthems with the full-bodied rocking of yesteryear.

A few months prior to tonight’s offering they seemed uneasy presenting their newest material; however, the same cannot be said of this evening with ‘The Love You Love’ up first to showcase The Walkmen’s mature new record.

A few songs in reticent frontman Hamilton Leithauser addresses a respectful ABC audience, enquiring if Tut’s is still around informing us; that’s where they used to play.

Whipping out what appears to be a copy of the setlist he dedicates the following track to Tut’s.

We don’t play this too often says a reasoning Leithauser as they launch into the lush instrumentation that is ‘7 Years of Holidays’.

‘Angela Surf City’ provides a nice detour back to previous release Lisbon before the quintet let rip with the track many still regard as their best known, ‘The Rat’.

While it’s difficult to imagine this same band recording such an explosion of fury and angst these days the song is performed faithfully and has the crowd in the bands palm.

“You’ve got a nerve asking for a favour can’t you hear me/I’m bleeding on the wall” everyone roars in unison as the thunderous cut from 2004’s Bows & Arrows rings around the venue.

Some time ago that would have been that, an encore of ‘The Rat’ and off you go thrill seekers but this new content version of The Walkmen treat Glasgow with another four new numbers.

The one time kings of dejection seem rather pleased with their new record, possibly their most optimistic to date.

Keen to dish out the newfound optimism ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Heaven’ close the set and appear immediate crowd pleasers with Motown inspired arrangements and catchy choruses to boot.

It’s clear the dramatic gestures and magnetism remain; it’s just there carved differently with new variations.

Personal highlight come from the soft down tempo doo-wop of ‘We Can’t Be Beat’.

‘I was the Duke of Earl but it didn’t last/give me a life that needs correction/nobody loves perfection,” swoons the Hamilton, “we’ll never leave, we can’t be beat,” he finishes and on such form, one would be inclined to agree.

Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Louise Henderson

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