Every summer, Glasgow plays hosts to a series of outdoor gigs at a fabulous amphitheatre style venue in one of our many parks.
Summer Nights at The Bandstand is now in its sixth year, and as you’ll see from the poster above, it has again attracted an eclectic mix of performers. The tickets for each show aren’t cheap, coming in at around £50 each, but then again, it is something of a unique location with a limited capacity of 2,500. I’ve limited myself to going along to one event each year (with one exception as someone game me a freebie in 2016) , previously catching Teenage Fanclub (2014), Roddy Frame (2015), Super Furry Animals (2016), Lloyd Cole (2016) and Pixies (2017). None of the acts in 2018 were of much appeal but it was quite the opposite in 2019 and I really had a dilemma, deciding in the end to go, tonight as it happens, to see The National, mainly on the basis that this was a very small venue for an act of their stature and that Mrs Villain, having not come to any of the previous gigs at the venue, was most likely to come along.
A lot of folk I know went along to see Teenage Fanclub this year. I gave it a miss on the basis that I’m not quite sure if the band will ever be the same now that Gerry Love has taken his leave given that so many of their best songs were written and sung by him, added to the fact that they have always been a band whose charm lies in the harmonies they generate on stage. There was also the fact that just a few months ago, at one of the last gigs in Glasgow with Gerry aboard in late 2018, (for which they also had a guest appearance from original drummer Brendan O’Hare), I went home thinking I hadn’t ever seen the band in such fine form, and maybe it was best to let things lie with those particular memories.
The solution to being Love-less has been to take move Dave McGowan, a long-standing live band member, away from keyboards and onto bass guitar while adding the charming and talented Euros Childs (of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci fame) to play keyboards and add sing harmonies. The reviews of the shows the new-look band played in Australia, New Zealand , the USA and across Europe earlier this year were fairly positive, with not too much being made of Gerry’s absence, although some fans did lament that his songs weren’t featuring.
The Glasgow show was always going to be something of a litmus test. It’s interesting that, unlike all other home shows they have over the years, there were no immediate reviews the day after in any of the Scottish newspapers – either the critics weren’t given tickets or they didn’t want to go on record with anything negative about a band that is, to all intent and purposes, a national treasure.
The comments on the TFC Facebook page the morning after the gig were incredibly complimentary, as you’d expect. There was, however, one interesting observation:-
“I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think their decision not to play Gerry’s songs since he’s left has anything to do with ill feelings, but it’s a practical consideration, since he’s not there to sing them and they can afford to choose from a wealth of songs from their catalogue. If I’m right, it’s still a shame, since so many of Gerry’s songs are so important in their canon and the prospect of them never playing them again is frankly quite grim…..”
Someone else said they were good, but different and expressed “…a fear they’re on the cusp of Norman Blake and his band.”
On balance, I’m fairly relaxed about having not gone along as I would likely having come away thinking I’d seen a good but not great show. It really is rather sad to think that, as things stand, these standout songs will never be played live again:-
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Guiding Star
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Ain’t That Enough
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction