Glasvegas & Kyla La Grange, Kentish Town Forum, 10 May 2011

Concern and frustration are the first words that describe Glasvegas’ poor performance at the Kentish Town Forum. Concern because of James Allan’s physical and psychological state, frustration because everyone knows how great the four-piece can be.

Glasvegas was the best British debut of 2008, and was robbed of its Mercury Prize by Speech Debelle in 2009. And the second coming, Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ is probably even better written and better performed than the former. James Allan is a great lyricist with the gift for, quite nonchalantly, penning stadium anthems.

However, something didn’t quite work tonight. Or rather someone didn’t quite work tonight, and that someone was the frontman.

Absolutely nothing was wrong with Rab Allan, Paul Donoghue and Jonna Lofgren, who delivered their best despite unfavourable circumstances. But the one to blame, at least for the first part of the show, was James Allan.

The all-in-white singer, who is normally passionate and funny onstage, appeared absent-minded, lazy, sick and unsteady.

Gems such as It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry, Lonesome Swan and The World Is Yours could have worked better in playback than they did onstage. But a major failing was in James’ interaction with the audience: when a singer is not quite himself, he can’t deal with the public in the usual way.

After a fan threw a hat onstage James appeared pissed off. Rather than call it a day with a diplomatic “Thanks mate, but I don’t need that”, he kept on attacking the poor boy in a semi-serious way. At the end of the gig they both shook hands and peace was restored, but the outburst was uncalled for.

It took until the encore for a miracle to happen. Presumably scolded by his manager, James finally gave his best after asking whether the first part of the show was crap – which came off as quite a humble way to say sorry.

At this point public affection was at its peak and Flowers And Football Tops, SAD Light, Lots Sometimes and the masterpiece, Daddy’s Gone, finally sounded epic, anthemic and heartfelt. What started as a true misstep for the band finally ended in glory.

The Support

Kyla La Grange fitted more into the American rocker singer/songwriter cliché, sounding quite like Alanis Morissette or Cat Power. With bleached blonde hair, a petite frame, East London fashion sense and a humble personality, the future looks bright for her.

By Silvia Rucchin

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