Swingin' Utters / toyGuitar - live in Glasgow (Cover Artwork)

Swingin' Utters / toyGuitar

live in Glasgow (2015)

live show

Audio has rapidly established itself as one of the best little music venues in Glasgow. It has a decent sound, a low stage with no barrier, and Williams Bros. Craft Lager on tap. What more could you ask for?

I arrived there on Wednesday, 11th March in time to catch the tail end of local heroes the Murderburgers' set, and they got the fans at the front moving with their pop punk racket. It's great to see a Scottish band signed to Asian Man, and I hope they go on to great things.

toyGuitar were up next, with Utters Jack Dalrymple and Miles Peck both pulling double duty on this tour. Opener "I'm In My Head" set the tone for their half hour set. Their hooky garage rock vibe translated well live, albeit perhaps sounding a little samey after a while, with "She's An Alarm" an obvious highlight. They just sound louder and more vital in a live setting - on record they're the Strokes, on stage they're the Stooges. At one point someone shouted for "TV Song" and Jack politely but firmly explained that that was a different band, before obligingly playing and singing the opening bars. With his long hair, ripped jeans, carefree attitude and undeniable pop sensibility, I think there's a touch of Evan Dando about Jack Dalrymple. The man is a rockstar.

After a short break, Miles (switching instruments) and Jack (switching stage side) reappeared along with original Utters Johnny Bonnel, Darius Koski and Greg McEntee. The Swingin' Utters hadn't played in Scotland for well over a decade, and the crowd were obviously up for the show. Opening with a pair of tracks from their latest album Fistful Of Hollow, the band got into stride straight away and the crowd - a good mix ranging from middle aged leather jacketed punks to kids who probably weren't even born when the Utters formed in 1992 - responded with a sizable pit.

The hour long set spanned almost their entire career. 20-year old songs like "Jackie Jab" and "No Eager Men" still sounded fresh, and the new songs were all enthusiastically received - "Tell Them Told You So" was a stupidly catchy highlight, with "We Are Your Garbage" more of an old school throwback. And while the studio versions of some songs on 2013's Poorly Formed suffered from an overabundance of reverb vocals ("Brains" and the title track, for instance), "Brains" sounded great live, as did "A Walk With The Postman", which I always thought would work well as an acoustic Filthy Thieving Bastards song.

Johnny Bonnel was always the centre of attention. Rarely still, he stalked the small stage, air drumming, shadow boxing, slapping his face and mock-choking himself. He thrust the microphone into the crowd to let the front row take a chorus or two of "Windspitting Punk" and on the few occasions when Darius took lead vocals, like on "Kick It Over", he danced and clapped along like a punk rock Bez. At one point he apologised for his throat, but his voice sounded fine enough. His vocals are rough and throaty enough already, so getting slightly hoarser isn't going to ruin them. He wasn't overly talkative onstage, although he did get a laugh when he declared that Paul and Rosie - the two not also in the Utters - were his favourite members of toyGuitar.

The Utters' recorded output has got increasingly more refined over the years - they'd already started to outgrow their street punk beginnings by the turn of the century, and every new album since has brought a little more experimentation. Their live show doesn't ignore that musical evolution, but it harnesses all the vitriol of their scrappier early days. The energy level stayed high throughout, with the quiet intros to the closing classics "Catastrophe" and "The Next In Line" almost the only chance to draw breath. Towards the end I glanced across to see an aging skinhead holding his sloppy drunk mate up with one hand, swigging a beer with the other, and singing along at the top of his voice. It was that sort of show.

Setlist: (with a couple of gaps as I don't know the new album that well)
[2 new songs]
Stupid Lullabies
Fifteenth and T
As You Start Leaving
We Are Your Garbage
Jackie Jab
Windspitting Punk
Tell Me Lies
Pills & Smoke
Kick It Over
The Librarians Are Hiding Something
Tell Them Told You So
No Eager Men
Five Lessons Learned
[2 or 3 more new songs]
A Walk With The Postman
The Next In Line