The Lawrence Arms/Sam Russo/Bangers - Live in Glasgow (Cover Artwork)

The Lawrence Arms / Sam Russo / Bangers

Live in Glasgow (2014)

live show

An early curfew for a club night meant an early start, so it was gratifying to see a good number of people already in place to see Cornish punk trio Bangers bash out a solid half hour of gruff melodic punk on October 9 in Glasgow.

Sam Russo was up next – having jumped straight from the Masked Intruder tour to this one, this was my second time seeing him in Glasgow in as many weeks. There's nothing groundbreaking about his one—man—and—his—guitar show, but the sheer quality of his songs marks him out from many of his peers. Occasionally stomping out a rhythm for himself, he interspersed songs like "Small Town Shoes" and the closing "Sometimes" with anecdotes told in his easy manner. There was a nice story about his attempt to run away as a small child, taking with him only two He—Man toys and a handful of mint from the garden, only to be thwarted by the fact that at that age he had no idea how to get on a bus. I can imagine his popularity rising rapidly, and he deserves a bigger stage, but paradoxically his songs are perhaps best suited to more intimate boozy venues.

This was, I think, my sixth time seeing the Lawrence Arms – but it had been four long years since they last made it to Scotland. With that in mind, it was disappointing that the gig didn't look like a sell out, but those who were there seemed determined to enjoy themselves. With Chris and Brendan alternating songs throughout, "Great Lakes/Great Escapes" was followed by "Drunk Tweets", kicking off a set leaning most heavily on 2006's Oh! Calcutta! and this year's Metropole. "Drunk Tweets" is a typical 90—second blast of a Brendan song, capturing both sides of his personality – who else could start every line of the first verse with "fuck you", yet still manage to fit in references to Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Greek mythology and Richard Wright's Native Son? Brendan Kelly: educating young punks one "fuck you" at a time.

It took the crowd a few songs to get going – probably a combination of the early start time and the fact that the audience were four years older and more jaded than the last time the band were here. But Brendan's "On With The Show" and "The Devil's Takin' Names" got people moving, and Chris's "Chapter 13: The Hero Appears" got a rare airing and a good reception. The contrast between Brendan's faster, rougher edged songs and Chris's more considered numbers worked well, and for the most part the new tracks fit seamlessly into the set, with "Seventeener" and "You Are Here" going down especially well. As ever, Brendan did most of the talking, with much made of his inability to understand Scottish accents. A protracted discussion with the crowd about whether to play "Cut It Up" or "The YMCA Down The Street From The Clinic" killed the momentum a little, not helped when they opted for the latter. It's a darkly brooding track, which I think would have fit well on Kelly's Wandering Birds album, but he just about pulled it out of the bag. Singalongs to "The Ramblin' Boys Of Pleasure" and "Like A Record Player" got things back on track, before "Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God" ended the night in barnstorming fashion. I was left slightly disappointed that Apathy and Exhaustion was so woefully under—represented, but given that the band have produced three arguably superior albums since that breakthrough I can't really hold that against them.