Gig review: Fenech-Soler, Glasgow Nice n Sleazy

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WHEN Fenech-Soler’s lead singer, Ben Duffy, told us “it’s very nice to be back in Glasgow, thank you very much for having us,” there was a weight of meaning behind the humdrum pleasantry of his words.

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It was two years ago that the 20-something vocalist was diagnosed with testicular cancer and last year that his recovery was announced, lending to this low-key comeback show a certain relief, a sense that a promising young group were back on track rather than over.

The Northampton quartet are not exactly breaking boundaries in today’s music landscape, where the high-speed collision of guitars and keyboards is a common occurrence, reminding of everything from classic (well, last decade’s) dance-rock genre exponents the Rapture and Cut Copy to the more contemporary Delphic and Metronomy. With blazing primary-coloured lights at the back of the stage rendering Duffy a silhouette at an only slightly higher level than the crowd – an intimate but viewing-unfriendly quirk of the venue’s layout – the music on tracks such as Demons and Lies was loud and clubby, an authentic experience where so many similar bands offer a watered-down facsimile of dancefloor electronica.

By contrast, Duffy’s vocals were soulful and if anything over-honed, offering a hint of R’n’B or perhaps even slick X-Factor production to synthetic clubland croons like All I Know and the euphoric closer Stop and Stare. His cursory promise of new dates and a delayed second album in the summer must have been a mask, for he would have been thrilled to be back and receiving the welcome he earned from this crowd.