A Natalie Pryce gig always raises the expectations, at their core they’re an intense bluesy, garage, rock band with a unique frontman in Mark Swan who is all about the performance.
Expect to be transported to Twin Peaks in this David Lynch type production, but first, the supporting cast….
Up first is The Kidney Flowers who force you to beg the question ‘is there a stronger punk blues band in Glasgow at the moment?’ With such a strong back line, driving bass and tight drums complemented by the attacking vocals and guitar of frontman Grant, the whole vibe seems to go down well with what appears to be an older audience who bop along to a fine set laced with rock and roll a la Link Wray and the Cramps.
Recording for over a year, The Hyper Reel had announced this as their live debut before plans to launch their debut album in the New Year.
The Hyper Reel, much like Natalie Pryce, are all about the theatrical with a number of their tracks available online in Art House style movies and they are lead from the front by Andy Warhol doppelganger Stephen Davis who engages the audience from the off with his unique charisma.
Backed up by a wall of guitar from Brian McFie, keys/trumpet from Ali Hendry, solid drums and bass from Gregor and Stewart respectively, their short set really gives us a taste of what to expect from their first full-length release.
Songs include ‘Fanatic’, ‘Hyper Real’ and ‘River Of Light’ are reminiscent of Josef K, The Scars and Positive Noise, providing a 80s post punk feel with some West of Scotland DNA.
Headliners Natalie Pryce had launched A Very Special Christmas with Natalie Pryce EP (on Pink Cassette) prior to the gig and if you know Natalie Pryce you know that a ‘very special Christmas’ performance was to be expected from the jazz noir five-piece.
With Broadcast full of smoke and oozing the raw magnetism from the unique frontmen of the previous acts, the enigmatic Mark Swan takes to the stage in his white shoes, white shirt, white suit and bright red tie, a decidedly festive attire in what seemed to be a film noir set.
As is their want Natalie Pryce lead us into every song with bard-esque tales of melancholy and dark comedy – it’s all about the performance if I haven’t mentioned that already? The Xmas EP tracks stand out with Roisin’s vocals being used more predominant than ever before, particularly on ‘Santa Claus’, an alternative Xmas story where Roisin takes the lead about an evil Santa Claus, and on ‘Mrs Claus’, a dark tale of a works night where you “won’t leave until the boss is dead” – as you would expect from Natalie Pryce, there’s no season of goodwill here!
Pink cassettes are raffled off to the entranced crowd before the evening takes a turn towards a warped version of a Johnny Cash Christmas special with Swan resplendent in a black 10-gallon cowboy hat pushing through the audience asking what everyone wanted for Christmas during his rendition of ‘Rudolph’ – a tale of the anxiety of what to buy a loved one for Christmas, but of course we all want that Natalie Pryce pink cassette, don’t we?
A thoroughly intense performance held together by Greg Taylor on guitar, Steven Litts on bass and Stephen Coleman on the drums, who seem content to remain cloaked in the darkness as Swan and Roisin make the spotlight their own.
The band deliver amazingly strong songs, only let down by the fact they may have relegated them to be dusted off and put on the record player over the festive season.
Unorthodox, alternative and nihilistic who knows what they will do next, we wait with baited breath!
The Nightmare Before Christmas this certainly wasn’t!
Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon