Gig Review: The Lapelles – Glasgow

The Lapelles

King Tuts, Glasgow – 16th July 2016

Words: Gary Feeney

When King Tut’s announced the line-up for Summer Nights, their annual, two week long extravaganza showcasing a selection of Scotland’s finest new acts (two weeks doesn’t quite seem long enough…), the Lapelles’ Saturday night date was arguably the stand-out on a strong bill, with the East Kilbride quintet having rapidly established themselves as a leading contender for being country’s “next big thing”.

Although the band formed in East Kilbride late in 2012, their ascent to the top echelons of the sizeable Glaswegian pile seems to have happened in the blink of an eye – from supporting Baby Strange at St Luke’s last October, they’ve breezed through their own headline shows in Glasgow’s smaller venues to huge support slots with the likes of Last Shadow Puppets, played a knock-out show at T In The Park and now find themselves selling out the legendary King Tut’s at the first time of asking as a headline act. It’s almost as if the Lapelles have sped through the early stages on fast-forward, fitting a few years’ worth of touring and gigging into a few months.

Before the show, I had only really heard the band in passing as, although my appetite was well and truly whetted by their fantastic recent single, Grab Life By, when I saw the gig announced I decided that I’d just go along and check them out without any preconceptions. Sometimes it’s more fun to go along and watch a band without knowing much about them and on this occasion, it turned out to be a wise decision indeed.

The night was off to a great start when support act the Hammerin’ Tongs decided to close their enjoyable set with what seemed to be an impromptu cover of I Wanna Be Adored, which as far as I can see, seems a fool-proof way of whipping a crowd up for the main act.

Whether it was down to that or not is probably up for debate, but nonetheless, whipped up the capacity crowd most certainly was: the atmosphere in the tiny venue was electric even before the Lapelles took to the stage. From the first chords of Seventeen (the title of which, apparently, is a darkly esoteric reference to 50’s serial killer Peter Manuel), the biggest part of the floor turned into a moshpit which never let up at any point throughout the set, although when a band are unleashing a stream of songs of the calibre on offer on the night, that’s probably natural enough.

Offering up an imperious blend of full-throttle rock’n’roll with a killer knack for melody, if you blind-folded someone with no prior knowledge of the band and told them that this was an act in the fledgling stages of their career, even early on in the set, they’d never have believed you – from the tightness of their music to their obvious instrumental competence and their easy command of an already-adoring audience (admittedly, this latter part would be tricky to acknowledge blind-folded…), the Lapelles possess a natural, easy confidence and composure which belies their relative inexperience and young age.

Drifting from catchy guitar riffs to soaring choruses exploding out of more melodic verses, at times there’s something reminiscent of Blur in in the structure of the Lapelles’ music – think along the lines of songs like Song 2 or Coffee & TV – but with a distinctly modern twist, bursting with joyous energy fuelled by a youthful exuberance which has the crowd eating from the palm of singer Gary Watson’s hands. Perhaps the best example of this was particular facet of the band’s music came in new song Different Creature, but each song had its own little elements which made them excellent in their own ways; bigger bands than the Lapelles will play sets with a much more uniform sound.

A particular highlight was New One which featured an impressive instrumental section, although the stand-out was undoubtedly the aforementioned Grab Life By which was received like a well-established classic closer, with people on each others’ shoulders, barely anyone’s feet touching the ground for more than a few seconds – probably the only thing missing was the now ubiquitous flare to complete the standard reaction to such songs these days.

Inevitably the crowd demanded an encore following the closing salvo of Snakehips and The Strand, and the band duly obliged with, erm…a Boyzone song. Well, not quite: after a brief, tongue-in-cheek teaser, the Lapelles launched into a thrilling rendition of the anthemic Bright Young Things to bring the curtain down on a set which live long in the memory – this was close to the perfect gig for a venue like Tut’s, with big tunes, guitar riffs being sang along to and the ever-present “here we fuckin go” chant making an appearance.

On a normal night, you would have left the venue quite delighted if that had been your lot for the evening, but not so– as part of Summer Nights, after the main act finishes in the upstairs venue, there’s another ready to go in the downstairs bar, on this occasion fellow Glaswegian outfit, The Van T’s. Playing their second slot of the day after an appearance at an all-day event in St Lukes across the city, the quartet delivered a short but remarkably energetic set showcasing their recent E.P A Coming Of Age, making it sound even more fun than it does on record and sending the sizeable crowd home happy after a great night.

Setlist:

17
Belt and Braces
Different Creature
Toronto
She Would
New One
Grab Life By
Snakehips
The Strand

Encore – Bright Young Things

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