Music review: The Goa Express, Hug & Pint, Glasgow

Indie rockers The Goa Express might not be about to set the world on fire, but they look like they’re going to have a good time trying, writes Malcolm Jack

The Goa Express , Hug & Pint, Glasgow ***

Manchester and its surrounding area is arguably the heartland of British indie-rock. Outmoded as that genre might feel these days, it’s lost none of its swagger if The Goa Express are anything to go by. Fancying themselves some right Rusholme ruffians, to borrow a song title by The Smiths, the young all-male five-piece gamely passed a bottle of Buckfast between them throughout a sold-out show bristling with hooks, good looks and attitude.

Friends since their teens, originally hailing from the Calder Valley towns of Todmorden and Burnley and forged on the same live scene as The Orielles and Working Men’s Club, The Goa Express – a band so authentically Mancunian that there’s even a pair of brothers at their heart in James Douglas Clarke (guitar and vocals) and Joe Clarke (keys) – don’t bring anything new to the table. But they do grab from a broad mixture of garage-rock, psych, indie-pop and baggy indie-dance influences with spirit and energy.

The Goa Express

Their latest single Everybody in the UK was a rousing anthem to collective experience which, like Morrisey’s Everyday Is Like Sunday or Babyshambles’ Albion, attempted to find something poetic in the gloomy abstraction of Britishness. Be My Friend recalled some of the stormy psych-rock of Echo and the Bunnymen. Their best song, Second Time – evocatively mixed on record by shoegaze veteran Mark Gardener from Ride – is a jangling wrangle with the follies of youth which had girls swooning in the front row and boys throwing their arms around each other for a swaying singalong.

The Buckfast bottle was drained well before the end. The Goa Express might not be about to set the world on fire, but in the truest and most reassuring of youthful indie-rock traditions, they look like they’re going to have a damn good time trying.