Live Review: Holy Esque – Glasgow

Holy Esque

Glasgow Art School, 7th May 2016

Words: Gary Feeney

holy esqueUsually when I come across a new band who I really like, I’ll end up spending ages watching all sorts of live videos on YouTube; especially so, if I know I’m going to see them. For whatever reason though, I never quite got round to checking out Holy Esque in such a way prior to their biggest ever hometown show at Glasgow’s Art School the other Saturday, despite being instantly enraptured by their recent debut album At Hope’s Ravine.

As such, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the band live – I had heard a lot of good things about them, so it wasn’t that I had any concerns that it might not be a good show; more that I wondered how they would translate their compact, wall of sound to the live stage.

If anything though, Holy Esque sound even more intense live, although the set got off to a somewhat tentative start with 2012 track Ladybird Love and Prism, between and after which singer Pat Hynes’ bemoaned that that “no-one’s actually listening” and eventually demanding that “every fucker get up here” in reference to the noticeable space in front of the stage. It may be that the crowd’s early reticence was in part due to choosing to open with a non-album track, but whatever the reason, Hyne’s words had the desired effect and the gig properly kicked in to life from Rose onwards. A standout track from the album, it packed a massive punch and from then on band and crowd became far more connected.

As the band powered through almost the entirety of At Hope’s Ravine, at times it felt like an assault on the senses between the power of the music and stage lighting. Songs like Hexx and Doll House took on an even more epic sound, whilst Silences saw mass hand-claps in accompaniment to one of the show’s highlights.

As with the album review, it’d be remiss of me not to make special mention of Hynes’ extraordinary voice – impressive on record, it’s even more so live. Appearing to put every sinew of his being into each line, the odd vibrato effect the singer produces alongside his impassioned delivery and heartfelt songs combine to astounding effect, adding even further depth to his band’s majestic music.

As the main set drew to a close with At Hope’s Ravine, Hynes’ announced the band would be back “whether you want us to or not” and by that stage it was hard to imagine anyone being too aggrieved by the proposition; indeed, so absorbing was the performance that it felt as if the set flew by. Returning after a short break, the band aired their cover of Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love, which had gained some online attention over the previous week or so, and it proved to be a triumph, turning the track into a dark and dirty groove, somehow sounding both like a departure from their normal sound but also a natural fit.

If there was to be one criticism of the set it would be that it was quite short, but at the same time, you can’t expect much more from a band with one album; I suppose too, that that’s actually not a criticism at all,  because it was such an enjoyable show that I wanted it to carry on for longer!

Despite taking a song or two to get off the ground, this was a confident, assured and powerful performance from Holy Esque and on this form, they’ll go on to fill even bigger venues than this as their career progresses.


One Response to “Live Review: Holy Esque – Glasgow”
  1. garyfeeney says:

    Reblogged this on General Smuts.


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