Prides, Jack Garratt at The Arches, 6/12/14

Probably the hottest band in Scotland, Prides arrive in their hometown on the back of a UK tour that has seen sold out shows and venues upgraded.

When this show was announced some months ago, tickets took just an hour and half to fly out of the doors, something that frontman Stewart Brock is excited to remind the eager audience.

With Glaswegian indie royalty like Jim Gellatly in attendance and a seemingly relentless upwards trajectory, this is a big moment for the trio, who only founded in 2013, fortunately they rise to the occasion masterfully.

First however, the multitalented Jack Garratt delivers a short set, playing solo, his songs can be roughly divided into two camps, choppy folk-blues delivered through the medium of rudimentary Fender Stratocaster and looped synth and drum machine backed ballads, reminiscent of the second Bon Iver album or James Blake’s bass heavy meanderings.

The audience are talkative, but appreciative, particularly for excellent single ‘The Love You’re Given’, which mixes trip-hop influenced drum breaks with a heart-breaking vocal that has shades of Damien Rice.

As a venue The Arches offers a mixed bag, on one hand it’s undeniably atmospheric, conjuring a claustrophobic tension in the audience that no corporate sponsored theatre venue can replicate.

On the other it’s awkwardly shaped, too narrow for a large audience to get close to the band, and when it’s still filling up, as it is for tonight’s support act, the sound tends to echo off the cold brickwork.

The two sides of his sound, the rustic and the electronic, don’t always coalesce neatly but Garratt is a talented and likeable young performer and one who sets the stage nicely for the evening’s homecoming heroes.

As ‘The Circle of Life’ bursts over the PA, the trio of Stewart Brock (keyboard, vocals), Callum Wiseman (guitar, keys, vocals) and Lewis Gardiner (drums) take to the stage.

Prides’ chiming electro-pop has won them a whole host of fans and true to form they deliver an upbeat and energetic set that sees Wiseman and Brock trade instruments and vocal lines with aplomb.

Of course, with no album out, a lot rides on the trio of singles that have snuck into the public domain, but fortunately for Prides, all three are platinum grade pop, deceptively simple but maddeningly catchy.

First comes ‘The Seeds You Sow’ to boost the energy in the room and soon after it’s followed by ‘Out of the Blue’ as lights drench the stage in turquoise.

More importantly though, several of the newer songs seem promising, with several audience members discussing their favourite deep cut as they head out from the venue.

A cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ is an irreverent nod to the place in the pop pantheon the trio seem desirous of, while ‘Messiah’ is a shout along, hands-in-the-air anthem to close the show.

If there’s one criticism, it’s that the audience themselves respond inadequately to songs that are made for dancing, there’s a bit of shuffling but it really takes the big singles before the crowd are persuaded to shake a leg.

There’s something hugely appealing about a band that are unafraid to make POP.

You can trace lines back to the likes of the Pet Shop Boys or New Order, but Prides are unabashed and unashamed fun and tonight is a wonderful demonstration of that.

Words: Max Sefton


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