Gig review: Family, ABC, Glasgow

The ABC in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
The ABC in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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In these ongoing boom times for live music, no band need remain defunct for too long. However, Family have waited 40 years to make their comeback.

Family | Rating: **** | ABC, Glasgow

This cult rock outfit crammed a heap of adventurous music into six turbulent years in the late 60s and early 70s and, judging by the reception at their first Scottish show in “a while”, the fans have been hanging on their every chord ever since.

This was no half-hearted “everybody’s doing it” reunion but a concerted showcase from a tight nine-piece band of the diversity of the Family sound, from pastoral reveries to meaty rhythm’n’blues with jazz, psychedelia and progressive rock all in the mix.

No-nonsense frontman Roger Chapman still has quite a pair of lungs on him – and a rather demonic laugh. Over the years, the legendary vibrato appears to have been tamed while the gruffness has been amped up. He was flanked by original members, including distinguished guitarist Charlie Whitney and drummer Rob Townsend, while the warm sound was enhanced throughout by Poli Palmer on vibraphone and Nick Payn on woodwind, harmonica and “anything that comes to hand”.

Observations From A Hill was infused with the bucolic feel of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and the mellow mood continued with Processions. There was an understated power running right through their set, made explicit on roots rocker No Mule’s Fool and eventually the seated fans could contain themselves no longer, leaping up to greet the bluesy Burlesque and sway to the feelgood Sweet Desiree and hippie singalong My Friend The Sun.