It’s been a busy weekend in Glasgow for rock shows and Theory of a Deadman were set to bring it to a close. Just like last year, they looked to conquer the O2 ABC on a Sunday. And once again, Glasgow were up to the challenge.
Not long after doors opened and I headed upstairs, Forever Never aimed to warm up the crowd. In our interview with the band, they described themselves as “metal disguised as pop or pop disguised as metal”. Honestly, I’ve never heard a band describe themselves so accurately. That’s precisely what they were. Generally, this sort of thing isn’t what I would listen to but I found myself quickly coming around to it. I suppose if it’s done well, you can open your ears to new branches of the rock tree.
They’re a tight, well-oiled machine and having been around for a number of years, it’s nothing less than you’d expect. Between the blazing guitars on offer from George Lennox and Frank Random and the pop beats from the MacBook next to Sam Curtis’ thundering drums and Renny Carroll’s alternating clean singing and rapping. However, the show is over all too quickly, I would have been quite happy to have them even longer but they did exactly what they set out to be: an opening act, entertaining the crowd and warming them up for the next band. They’re set to play Wildfire in June and I’ll be making sure I see them at Wiston.
Speaking of which, Royal Republic grace the stage, suited and booted, leather and quiffs. The four-piece don’t waste any time hammering through their own short set. There’s people nearby here just to see the Swedes and it becomes glaringly obvious in no time at all. If someone gave Eagles of Death Metal speed, this is how it would sound. With album three out a matter of days ago, they pick a few songs from there whilst aiming for some of the back catalogue.
Adam Grahn effortlessly entertains the crowd between songs, telling us a quick story of Jonas Almén’s recent skiing injury, accidentally knocking the wireless pack out from guitarist Hannes Irengård’s back pocket…and breaking up with me during his spoken-word monologue of “Make Love Not War”. Having only met me a couple of hours beforehand during our interview, he picked me out enjoying the show at the barrier. At least I have a claim to fame now. Their short and punchy, rambunctious numbers made for an entertaining time, receiving a healthy welcome and I’m looking forward to catching them at Download this year.
Following the last changeover of the night, the usual strains of “Blame Canada” filter through the PA before Joey Dandeneau jumps onto his stool and begins a drum beat I know all too well. He’s followed out by the other three quarters of the band and they hit the ground running with “Lowlife”. Now, being right at the front, I know I’m not going to get the best sound quality but there was too much reverb on Tyler Connolly’s vocals. However, by the time they hit the second song, “So Happy”, it had been sorted out, just like last year.
Much of the set was similar to last year but the order had been shaken up, frontloaded with songs like “Bitch Came Back”, “Blow”, “Drown” and “Angel”. This time around we got some deeper cuts like “Make Up Your Mind” and “Hurricane” whilst my personal favourite “No Surprise” was omitted. Can’t have everything, right? “Santa Monica” was delivered in a full electric setup compared to last year’s acoustic rendition and once again, it followed Tyler’s speech of how all it takes is one song or album in your teenage years to change your entire outlook on music and how such an event is more or less universal. The guy has a point.
Once again, Joey treated us to a drum solo at the halfway point, it was much like last year’s; short and loaded with finesse and panache. Most importantly, it was exciting. Too many times I’ve seen a drum solo kill the atmosphere in a room. However, like last year, it kept the audience’s attention. After which we got the afore-mentioned “Hurricane” and “Make Up Your Mind”. It was at this point I had to leave (Sunday trains suck!) and it was the last parallel of the night for last year, having to do similar last time around. However, my friend managed to nab a shot of the setlist and I have to admit, I missed some great songs (again) with “Panic Room”, “Not Meant to Be”, “Hate My Life” and the encore of “Bad Girlfriend”. Hopefully next time, though I seem to recall saying that last year.
Meanwhile Dave Brenner and Tyler Connolly expertly weave their guitar licks around each other’s, the former utilising slide guitar in places with a deft touch while at one point Connolly uses his microphone. We’re also treated some lively and energetic bass lines from Dean Back and like the rest of his brothers in arms, provides some punchy backing vocals. Given their time together, there’s no rough edges, imparting the knowledge that these guys know how to do their jobs well, the fact the room seems even more full compared to last year is just further proof of that.
Theory of a Deadman aren’t one of those bands I’ll listen to on a regular basis but I enjoy their albums when I listen to them and whenever they’re in town, you can be damn sure you’ll find me at their show as they always put on a great show. As ever, they’re tight and polished, as they should be for a band with five albums in and looking to their sixth. Given their plans for the rest of the year, it may be a while for the next time they visit Glasgow but rest assured, I’ll be there once again.
All photos by Roisin Stewart