It’s been a number of years since Walking Papers paid a visit to Glasgow but that’s partly due to one of its members touring the world with a man in a top hat and another whose best vocal days are a distant memory. Nevertheless, Walking Papers’ second album dropped at the start of the year having been on ice for quite some time and reflects where the band were having been touring their debut as much as they could. However, frontman Jeff Angell puts it far more eloquently in our interview with him.
As such (and can quite often be the case), I missed most of the support act, Paceshifters. Matching the dark and moody sounds of the headliner, they opt for a noisier sound for the most part. It makes for a strange juxtaposition and the audience respond with their duly polite applause. However, most of what I heard was from the dressing room. As the now six-piece Walking Papers take to the stage, they ease the crowd slowly into the night with “This is How it Ends”. Re-worked to become much darker and sombre, it features Gregor Lothian on sax smashing some heavy duty chains to enhance the dark atmosphere.
The lounge style continues and is only emphasised with Dan Spalding playing upright bass for the first couple of songs. It makes the evening more atmospheric and with their reworkings, it shows how well they lend themselves to this style. But it’s not long before the band kick themselves into high gear with “Death on the Lips”. It allows Angell to spring to life and spin across the stage. His rasping vocals are in fine form and in a live environment, is able to show off what he’s capable of without even trying.
Meanwhile, “King Hooker” has Tristan Hart Pierce pulling out the slide guitar to make a dark song even sleazier and sultry. Alongside that, there’s Benjamin Anderson’s keyboard work and with a band comprised of guitar, bass, drums, sax and vocals, you’d expect something to be lost in the mix yet everything sits perfectly. Especially so since Anderson’s keys are so integral to the Walking Papers sound.
With the first half of the set packed with WP2 material, it shows the belief the band have in it yet similarly, how well it’s been received that there are no calls for the debut album to put in an appearance other than the early “I’ll Stick Around”. Alongside that, it shows the band are wanting to push the new material as hard as they can and take advantage of the fact it’s finally out given the gap between the pair of albums.
However, “A Place Like This” introduces a run of songs from the debut and they receive the warmest welcome of the night with its more muscular, harder sound. The aforementioned song brings the room to silence, only for a lone voice to puncture it and throwing Angell’s concentration, visibly hiding laughter from the situation. Elsewhere, “The Butcher” sees the band revisit the lounge style and like the other songs, takes on a more macabre stance.
“Capital T” and “Two Tickets and a Room” has the crowd energised whilst “Already Dead” and “The Whole World’s Watching” ensures the band are leaving the crowd on a high with their grittier sounds. Before Angell introduces the last song of the night, he thanks the crowd for coming out, making a joke of the difficulties of finding a babysitter and an interesting use of a Walking Papers shirt. Ending the show as it began, there’s a sombre mood with “Red and White” but it’s a fitting one.
Naturally, with such a different live line-up compared to previous times, the dynamics of the band are different but the songs have been re-worked excellently and in a live environment, work even better than they do on record. The two markedly different styles found on each album blend well into each other making for one cohesive night and there’s a sense coming from the band they could have gone longer if they so chose to, such was the fun they were having.