Bellshill’s finest indie-pop group were never ones to force their music upon anyone, instead preferring a strategy of quiet, consistent dependability, and it was pleasing to note that the loyalty which this has obviously bred among their fans continues unabated.
It’s been remarked upon previously that the group, a quintet now, are the least rock-star-looking outfit imaginable, instead calling to mind a group of mild-mannered secondary schoolteachers who might happen to play in a band together on the weekend.
It’s an impression which endures, although singer Norman Blake’s temples bear greyer hair now, and the group are of an age in 2016 where the warmth and familiarity of their music more feels better suited to their essential dadness.
The easy conviviality of their show was striking for a group who were adored by no less an icon than Kurt Cobain in the early 1990s. Blake dedicated new track The Darkest Part of the Night to John McCusker, who played all of the violin parts on the latest album (“He’s here tonight; we still owe you a pint, you’ll get it later”) and one of their earliest songs, The Concept, to a fan who had died before he could attend this show.
Their new songs were notable for the fact that they fitted in seamlessly with two and a half decades’ of what had gone before, although the loose, country-rocking Thin Air stood out.
And they have a back catalogue that bears boiling down to its finest moments extremely well: even at their most gently tuneful, the craft and emotion bubbling under their songs is striking, from Ain’t That Enough to Your Love is the Place Where I Come From.
From the opening notes of Sparky’s Dream, the room bristled with a cheerful excitement, and the encore delivered a run of greats with I Need Direction’s surf-pop, Can’t Feel My Soul’s hurtling, Sonic Youth-style indie-rock, and the anthemic Everything Flows. Those who know them rightly love them.