Friday nights in Glasgow are what bands like Wilson are made for. Loud, fist-pumping, straight-up hard rock in a sweaty club where beer flows freely. With four bands on tonight’s bill, it was set to be an entertaining show.
Opening act Twin Heart introduce themselves as “We’re from Kilmarnock and we play music”. And here was me thinking I had bought a ticket for a night with motivational speakers. They admitted to being a late booking and given who else was on the bill, the three-piece’s blend of punk and garage rock felt a bit out of place. One person a couple of rows in front of me was clearly out for a good time, throwing himself into the music and he continued like that for the rest of the night. Besides that, they got a few cheers and polite applause with some friends showing up to support them. Not particularly my thing and while it was a bit rough around the edges, they set up the crowd for the next band.
Next up were Donnie Willow. Like their predecessors, they felt a bit out of place tonight, aiming for a more indie vibe. My main thought on them was they were like an angry Biffy Clyro. Minus the perpetual layer of sweat they seem to have. As they announced, they have a mini-album due next week alongside its launch which people cheered earnestly for. They were far more polished and tighter than what had came before and left to more cheers, especially the rhythm section. Again, not particularly my thing but they definitely raised more cheers than the previous band.
Reigning Days took to the stage shortly after to the loudest cheers of the night so far and I edged closer to the stage. The first band of the night I knew and actually wanted to see and it seemed the girls in front of me were the same, even if they did spend the first couple of songs chatting to each other. Singer and guitarist Dan Steer is clearly enjoying playing to an enthusiastic audience, feeding off the energy in the room and receiving laughs during his dryly delivered chats between songs, introducing themselves as “We are contractually obliged to play for you for thirty mintues”. Despite the “obligations” the band are out to make a good impression and speaking to people the next night at Inglorious, they did it with ease.
Hard-hitting, they play a different brand of rock, it’s more accessible and radio-friendly (having their recent single debut on Kerrang! is testament to that). If Royal Blood had more depth to their sound, it would be this. Between posture and playing style, bassist Jonny Finnis is reminiscent of Duff McKagan but with far more facial hair and just as captivating. With him and Joe Sansome on drums, they make an incredibly tight rhythm section, not making a single mis-step the entire night. Sadly my view of Joe himself was blocked but what I could hear more than made up for it, hammering his kit with everything he had, occasionally making good use of his double bass pedal.
After the final changeover of the night, Wilson grabbed Glasgow by the scruff of the neck and refused to let go, opening with “Give ‘Em Hell”. Focusing heavily on their latest album, Right to Rise, it shows the quality of that album with songs like “Crave”, “All My Friends”, “Waiting for the World to Cave In” and “Satisfy Me”. They also cherry-picked a few gems from their debut album, Full Blast Fuckery, such as “College Gangbang” and “Better Off (Strictly Doods)”. Halfway through proceedings, Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog” is introduced with a very Wilson flavour. It’s a song I haven’t heard in years but I’m right there, singing along with the rest of the crowd, word-perfect.
Whilst most of the band members stay relatively in one place on Broadcast’s tiny stage, singer Chad Nicefield refuses to for any length of time, jumping backwards and forwards on the small stage, doling out high fives, fist bumps and stealing the noses of a couple of people. Towards the end of the set he ventures out via crowdsurfing before toppling back onto the stage, landing on one of the monitors, seemingly injury-free and launching right back into his vocals.
They clearly belong on a much larger stage but in keeping with the sweaty club vibe, perhaps the Cathouse or the Classic Grand. However, their raw, pedal-to-the-metal hard rock also wouldn’t be out of place in a stadium or playing as you’re driving, blasting along an empty road (keeping within the speed limit, obviously).
Meanwhile, Jason Spencer and Kyle Landry expertly hammer out the riffs, meaty and menacing like a rabid beast. Giving much of the material its identity, they focus intently on it, firing out the occasional pick and have people imitating their efforts on air guitar. James Lascu’s bass lines thrum in the background, not as involved in the mix and it’s a detriment to his excellent skills, locking in with Puhy’s frantic drumming
With the encore, Chad leads the assault back to the stage to the chanting of “Detroit, Michigan!”, a lone figure until his brothers in arms follow him out, pumping out the last two songs of “Before I Burn” and “My Life, My Grave”. And with that, Wilson’s latest visit to Glasgow is finished. I just have one request, can we do it again this Friday?
Photos by Amy Harris-Abbott of CE Photography