Neon Waltz (& SAINTS & Lional) Review

Posted on Tuesday 8th December 2015 22:27 by FreckFest

Neon Waltz/SAINTS/Lional  - Harbour Arts Centre, 1st December 2015


A wet and windy Tuesday night at the start of December is not anyone’s idea of a big night out, but when the hotly-tipped Neon Waltz phone up and ask if they can stop off and play for the night as a warm-up for their big, career-making show the following night with Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr, we were only too pleased to put the show on.


The band were with us in May, so it was interesting to see how they’d developed in the intervening months, since signing with label giant Atlantic Records. It seems I wasn’t the only one thinking this - to these well-trained eyes, it seemed that most bands on the cusp of things were represented somewhere in the HAC to see what all the fuss was about. With Irvine being the band’s only west of Scotland date, there, in the front row were members of Glasgow’s Van Ts and Ayrshire’s Crash Club, inadvertently nodding in time to the music, tapping their feet to the wash of sound that was coming from the PA and making mental notes no doubt as to the quality of the music on offer. Sean C Kennedy said afterwards that they had a “great flow of melody”, high praise indeed from someone who knows a thing or two about such things.


The first difference between Neon Waltz this time and in May is that the band doesn’t shamble on with an underlying air of awkward embarrassment. This time they practically swagger on to the intro music (Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake), perfectly timed so that opener Steadily I Float begins as soon as the last notes of the intro have faded from the PA.


Second thing that is noticeable is that singer Jordan Shearer has had singing lessons. Last time round he was a mumbler, hiding beneath a fringe and keen for the vocals to be buried as part of a bigger sound. On Tuesday you could actually hear what he was singing. Granted, he’s still as static as a hat-stand in a hallway, but his voice now floats atop the tunes, rather than sinking beneath them.


The most striking difference is the band’s confidence. They play with a self-belief and a chemistry that has come from cranking up the mileage on their trusty van and zig-zagging across the country most nights of the week, honing their live act and quietly becoming one of the most talked-about new bands on the scene.


Their set list has changed a wee bit since last time too. A glance down the 11 song set turns up only 3 familiar tunes. The new ones sound excellent; heavy on melody and Hammond, slightly psychedelic and choc-full of brilliant guitar interplay and Keith Moonisms on the drums. Of all the new bands around (and there are 1000s of them), Neon Waltz really do seem like the ones ‘most likely to.’


Last night we played in Dundee and it was busier than it had been the last time we played there,” drummer Darren tells me later on. “And there are more folk here tonight than last time too. We’re going in the right direction. Word of mouth means that we’re continually playing to larger audiences.”


It’s the keyboard that sets them apart. Played by a furry, fuzzy-headed Liam Whittles it adds a polished sheen to the sound, glacial here and groovy there. He was keen to see the Irvine show as a dress rehearsal for the Manchester showcase the following night.


We’re running through the set exactly as it’ll be at tomorrow’s Noel Gallagher show. I can’t wait. He’s such a hero is Noel, and such a funny guy. He always makes fun of my hair -  ‘Here comes the Hair Bear Bunchand all that, but he’s a big supporter of the band and our music, so even if we get a tenth of his success he can make as much fun of my hair as he likes!


We must give a special mention to the other 2 excellent bands who completed Tuesday night’s bill. Inverness’s Lional braved all sorts of seasonably horrible weather to pack themselves and their instruments into the drummer’s old car and travel 4 hours to play a half hour show before turning right back round and heading northwards again, but not before selling a few copies of their debut single Season Of Salt, all 80s keys and jagged riffs, big chorus and bigger hooks. They’re worth keeping an eye on and next time they’re down this way, they’ll be back in the HAC.


Irvine’s SAINTS completed the bill, playing their first hometown gig in front of a healthy and appreciative audience. SAINTS sold an impressive amount of tickets ahead of the show and we’re keen to reward them with a headline show of their own in the new year.


It’s great to be involved in music when it’s this good!

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