Gig Review: Anchor Lane / North Atlas / Blue Nicotine – G2, Glasgow (27th January 2023)

When you release a master piece of an album like Call This a Reality?, you’re going to want to celebrate it in style, in your hometown no less. Anchor Lane playing G2 is like returning to the scene of the crime given they used their last headline show in here as a way to celebrate the announcement of their debut album. The album may have been a long time coming from recording to release but the finished product is proof that it was worth it and with an impending month of touring the UK, there’s only one place which would be suitable. 

But not only that, if you were one of the lucky few who managed to snag a VIP ticket, we were also treated to a quick intimate acoustic set to kick us off in The Attic. As Anchor Lane take their positions, there’s a warm welcome as they launch into “Stutter”. Despite not being the “main gig”, there’s already a sense of relief as the band now have the album out into the public and where sets like this can be solemn, the band take the session in a more jovial direction. As the songs are stripped back, it allows the trio to focus on the essence of the songs and the songwriting. 

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the songs come from the new album whilst Casino is represented by the solitary “Stone Cold Hearted”. This rendition is all the more moving, tying in well with the later appearance of “Bitter” making its live debut. Tracks like “Ministry” and “Call This a Reality?” sound brighter and more lightweight but still retain their edge. Meanwhile, “Nitroglycerine” does the complete opposite, turning into a weighty beast and even more impactful than its plugged-in version. Even in this format, it shows what great musicians the trio are as Lawrence O’Brien is able to show off his guitar proficiency in a style we don’t see all that often from the band, Conor Gaffney can run his vocal gamut – able to show the versatility even further over the acoustic strains whilst Graeme Newbury’s work on cajon brings new depth to the songs, hitting out rhythms and percussion with enviable ease. As “I Don’t Have Another Soul to Pour” closes out this portion of the evening, it’s still a ferocious number and a perfect high point for the start of the evening which soon be eclipsed. 

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Downstairs and into the G2 whilst claiming the snazzy VIP laminate and signed print of the band, by the time opening band Blue Nicotine take to the stage, the venue is already rapidly filling. Making the most of their short set and working with the captive audience, the trio are out to impress. As alternative and indie sounds are fired through a Les Paul and Rickenbacker bass, it comes together in a hard rock coating. Hammering through their set whilst taking time to show their appreciation for the assembled people and the headliners, it’s a short set from a band who are great on a technical level. Whilst the vocals are completely buried for the entirety of the set, the band soldier on, managing to engage the crowd and leave to a louder response than when they started. Acting as a fitting warm-up for tonight and a perfect fit for the headliner, it appeals to both sides of audience.  

North Atlas are plagued with technical issues as it seems there’s an unusually long wait between bands as they get up and running. And even once they get underway, the alternative rockers are still beset with a few problems. However, they show the depth of their professionalism by taking it in their stride and taking out a handful of songs on the fly. Less heavy than their predecessors and far more in an alternative slant, it’s well put together, if inoffensive. There’s a good helping of Biffy Clyro to be found in their music with hints of the industrialisation of Nine Inch Nails. Nothing stands out as being completely stellar but likewise, nothing sticks its neck out for being dreadful. Put them in a cramped, sweaty basement where we can see the whites of their eyes and they’d likely seize the initiative. Regardless of circumstances outwith their control, they still manage to impress a good portion of the crowd, departing with a few new fans. 

The men of the hour take the stage to the sound of “The Static” before Call This a Reality?’s lead single “Stutter” kicks off the next hour of unadulterated jubilation from both the band and the packed venue. Anchor Lane are back in Glasgow and taking no prisoners. Rattling through the first three songs as they appear on the album, the alternative hard rockers put on a clinic, proving once again why they’re the best band this city has ever produced. The excitement is writ large on the trio’s faces whilst being effusive in their performance with both Conor and Lawrence’s boundless energy allowing them to make full use of the space. Early on there’s a tease of a drum solo from Graeme which doesn’t outstay its welcome and is one of the only two drummers on the planet who can make such a thing entertaining, marrying flawless technicality with showmanship. 

With the early appearance of “Honey”, the groove-laden number and old favourite from Casino is one of only four tracks to appear from the debut, picking out the others which fit in perfectly with the new material. Whilst those songs get the loudest cheers, it comes from a place of familiarity and in time, these new songs will also receive an equal response. Indeed, as stated in past reviews from the last year, it shows the quality and belief in these songs where they make up the vast majority of the set and there’s no real want to hear older songs. But also, we’re here to celebrate the new album and a staggering eleven of the dozen tracks feature in the set with the twelfth (“Bitter”) in the acoustic session. 

For the band and those who have managed to catch the band over the last year, there’s a couple of numbers which are met with the most excitement as they also have their debuts. The bouncy singalong of “I’ve Been Waiting” feels like an apt statement for the night, its jagged riff from Lawrence upping the tempo after the brooding “Nitroglycerine”. Meanwhile, at the other end of the set, “Electric Karma” is equally bouncy, injecting a hint of pop after the power of the evergreen “Fame Shame”. However, for the vast majority of the set, they don’t let up, other than for “Stone Cold Hearted” and even that manages to keep the momentum going. There’s constant crowd participation between singing and dancing on numbers like “The Mischievous Song”, clapping at various points such as “Blood and Irony” and even a successful moment of jumping from a crouch on the final run of “Sycophant Disorder”.  

There’s still plenty of chances for headbanging and the band haven’t lost their edge. Gritty numbers like “Choke” and “I Don’t Have Another Soul to Pour” are wonderfully full-blooded rockers. Songs like “Ministry” and the album’s title track, along with the afore-mentioned “I’ve Been Waiting” and “Electric Karma” show where their present is. Bringing dirtier tones in places and big soundscapes in others, blending sophistication with modernity to make music which will endure and appeal to a broad and diverse crowd. The alternative side is satiated as much as the traditional and it’s that middle space where they truly flourish, backed by people whose craft should be envied.  

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From early on, there’s a sense in the room that this isn’t just another performance for the band. This is a show, pouring every ounce of energy and passion they have into the hour. There’s times where Lawrence and Conor trade guitar licks, beefing out some of the songs and when there’s not a guitar strapped to him, Conor is refusing to stand still. He commands the crowd effortlessly, no longer a vocalist but a bona fide frontman (but he’s been that since live music made its return). And likewise, Lawrence knows how to work the crowd with his own six string strapped to him, battering out riffs and chords to the point he could do it perfectly even in his sleep with his hands tied behind his back. Whilst it’s a touch harder than usual to see Graeme due to the impressive but slightly overpowering lightshow, he truly gets to flex his muscles as the vast majority of the material is his whilst putting his own flair on the Casino material. As the three of them perform tighter than ever as a unit, each of them exuding their own unique brand of confidence and charisma, the chemistry between them is like a fourth member on stage.  

It’s been a hell of a journey for this band and it’s never been anything less than a pleasure watching them grow and develop as a band, musicians, songwriters and as humans over all these years. Through various line-up changes, the development of their sound and their performances, they’ve never done anything but up their game at every turn and opportunity. The past year has been testament to that, becoming seasoned road warriors, the new material being well and truly tested in the live environment. There’s the old adage of “form is temporary, class is permanent” but Anchor Lane’s form has also been permanent. Now armed with the best material to date for everyone to hear and about to undertake a massive headline tour, their continued ascension is guaranteed.  

Anchor Lane: official | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | youtube | store

North Atlas: officialfacebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

Blue Nicotine: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

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July 11, 2024 7:35 PM

[…] been quite some time since Anchor Lane headlined their hometown of Glasgow and even longer since they’ve played King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (all the way back in 2018 when they […]