Glasvegas frontman James Allan may seem moody and, if you’ve ever seen him in interviews, a tad difficult, but he cares about a good live show. “We’re having a few wee issues,” he says in his thick Glaswegian drawl midway through tonight’s set. “That amp sounding like fucking shit.”
If that’s not enough, if you still think of Glasvegas as leather-clad, feedback-drenched glum-rockers you’ve only to look at the audience to see how wrong you are. The Cockpit is crammed with their devotees – an almost straight 50/50 split of young couples and beery, lairy lads.
And the audience probably don’t even realise it, but they’re almost any Glasvegas song you can think of, personified. Because within every vat of moody, monochrome guitars and Glasgow-fried scowl lies a melody, or a vocal line that’s the sweetest thing you’ll hear at this time on a Sunday night in Leeds. Take ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ for example: ‘I swear to God, lies and bad thoughts,’ howls Allan, before he laments ‘I wish upon a falling star.’ The melody tucked away within the song feels so delicate you could knock it down with a feather, yet the music that’s wrapped around it echoes and booms around the corners of the venue.
And that’s how the Glasvegas live show works – every song in their repertoire contains a sweetness that, although hard to find, is all the more rewarding for discovering it when you actually listen. It’s more obvious in two of the best-received songs of tonight: ‘Geraldine,’ the band’s ode to social workers from their self-titled debut, and penultimate number ‘Daddy’s Gone’, the track that started the Glasvegas hype-machine rolling back at the tail end of 2007. An anti-anthem of longing and loss, the latter really works its magic when Allan croons ‘remember times when you put me on your shoulders / How I wish it was forever you would hold us.’ Watching a black clad ex-footballer reminisce about his days as a toddler having a kickabout with the old man really is a genuinely touching moment.
Glasvegas returned with their third album earlier this year, and compared with the excitement around their debut five years ago, it was met with almost universal indifference. However, you wouldn’t believe it from tonight’s gig. “If every audience was half as good as you, I’d be happy,” says Allan towards the end of the show, after a run through of one of Later… When The TV Turns To Static’s tracks. But that’s not what we want. It’s Glasvegas being moody that’s brought everyone here at the Cockpit together.