We Are Scientists at ABC, 12/3/14

What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? No it’s 2005, year of the indie boom.

Forced (or, tricked?) into thinking this was a joyous occasion for music.

Subjected to an over-abundance of new-wave indie bands, who were basking in an ephemeral smokescreen of success thanks to the inanity of record industry sheep-like-antics and lame tactical signing instincts.

Bands like The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand (who…?), The Fratellis and The Kaiser Chiefs (The Voice anyone…?) all enjoying widespread success invading the charts at every opportunity.

Touring the country with a snarky complacency; the overall consensus being – “we’re in it for the long-term lads,”… with Alex Kapranos bullying his inferiors, shouting “imbecile, bring me some more Sauvignon!” The mid noughties eh!

Fortunately mediocrity only lasts as long as mainstream radio stations are willing to play it.

That’s what happens with popular scene booms – bands can either escape the inevitable onslaught of abuse when the scene dies out; or they can disappear into a deep abyss of obscurity, scurrying toilet venues, barely making ends meet, abusing the few hits they achieved back-in-the-day.

Then there are We Are Scientists – whom; although hitting it big single-wise during the indie-boom, never quite sounded like they belonged to, what was eventually to become the anachronistic ‘stuck-in-the-mid-noughties’ conundrum that their old contemporaries suffered from.

There is a completely valid explanation for this, of course.

The sole reason being that We Are Scientists are more than a one trick pony; they are a “good” multi-faceted band; with an eclectic array of songs and prolific song-writing abilities.

We Are Scientists fall neatly into two categories on the live circuit; they are not only a great band with a sizable back catalogue of hits to choose from, but they are also a really hysterical comedy act.

It’s brilliant, and the crowd laps it up in Glasgow, as the banter is just great.

Having a chilled drink on stage happily engaging with the “glasgie” crowd ten-minutes in before they even play a single note!

With singer Keith Murray prompting members of the crowd to ask him anything with the titillating invitation of “try me”.

Seemingly unable to pronounce Glasgow properly, with bass player Chris Cain constantly pronouncing it “Glasgoe” – this becomes an ongoing joke throughout the gig relating to when they performed with My Chemical Romance way back.

Inviting fans up onto the stage for photographs with the band to represent Glasgow! – being ejected to the side of the stage to get carved up referring to Cain’s obsession with Jeffrey Dahmer, drilling heads and performing acidic experimentations on unsuspecting victims.

The boys are all too self-aware and needless to say, it creates a great rapport and a fantastic reciprocity with the crowd.


Musically, the band is tight as tick with all three members excelling in their individual roles, with Murray and Cain’s harmonies sounding spot on just like they do on record.

They play all the biggies from their debut album With Love & Squalor, their follow-up Brain Thrust Mastery, and their third effort Barbara (playing the highly overlooked singles ‘Rules Don’t Stop’ and ‘I Don’t Bite’), and also playing numerous tracks from their new outing, TV En Francais, including the brilliant single ‘What You Do Best’, which harks back to earlier tracks like ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘Can’t Lose’.

The crowd loses all their inhibitions when the classics are played, such as ‘It’s a Hit’, ‘Can’t Lost’ and ‘The Great Escape’, which are all cleverly left until the end.

The beauty of the new material is that it fits in seamlessly with the massive back catalogue of anthemic indie-busting, harmony-induced, poptastical, rock-tunes with the pop sensibilities still bursting through the newer material while indicative of the band moving into a slightly more somber sounding territory (some will disagree no doubt), which is testament to their longevity; being able to adapt and evolve while retaining the core fundamentals, which is a signature requisite to the bands’ sound

We Are Scientists have eluded what so many of their counterparts’ failed miserably at doing so.

What is bold about the new material is that the band haven’t tapped into what’s hot, instead sticking to what they do best, and the crowd tonight can’t get enough of the bands ability to alternate between serious musical chops and the seriously hilarious ‘to-and-fro’ banter between Murray and Cain.

Murray eventually disowning his bottle of beer – hitting it with a drumstick he stole from the drummer, claiming that he’s had enough of that particular brand of beer – shouting over the microphone to Cain – “pass moi the vino” (yes, …you Alex Kapronos, you “has been”).

Microcosmically, it is a fitting metaphor of how easy it has become for music scenes to come and go just as easily as the ‘so-called’ fans.

Essentially disowning bands when they have been subjected to an over-abundance of exposure, being forced out of the airwaves, with stations overplaying tracks until they outstay their welcome.

This is not a problem for We Are Scientists, and the packed out Glasgow crowd would no-doubt whole-heartedly agree so, a fantastic gig from a band that’s definitely here for the long run.

More photos

Words: Derek Robertson
Photos: Jayjay Roberston


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