Gig Review: Tragedy / Ward XVI – Ivory Blacks, Glasgow (5th April 2024)

What a double-header. Sometimes you see a gig listing and immediately you know it’s not just a couple of bands touring together, but a great package guaranteed to be something special. Having spoke to both bands recently (Mo’Royce is a lovely chap to interview, and we’ve been mates with Ward XVI for years) we knew that the bands had a bit of a connection, and that really helps with touring.

Ward XVI (c) Moshville Times

As support, Ward XVI were playing a more compact set that they had the last time they played the same venue. However, I really think this worked in their favour. A large number of long-time fans were present to see them as well as some new faces, and the cut-down (for them!) stage show made for something more impactful. I got to concentrate more of the music, but the flair was still there to let those who’d not seen them before know what they could be in for with a full performance.

Around the likes of opener “Babadook” and the circus pit-inducing “Toy Box”, the story of Psycho-berrie unfolded in curtailed form. Witches were burned, mothers were shot, tongues were sliced, and bowels were… erm… disemb’ed. And songs were played. Despite the set length, this was one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve seen from Ward XVI, I think because I know the material better now and I could focus on just enjoying the music.

Their show is slick and well-rehearsed without coming across as by-the-numbers and it’s obvious that they’re having fun with the pantomime of it all. They’ve nailed that middle ground between music and performance art perfectly, and seeing how they can adjust the story they’re telling from full length to Reader’s Digest depending on their allowed time is impressive. We are all awaiting the launch of album number 3 and, we assume, a slew of headline shows to follow later on in the year.

I was really pleased to hear the crowd reaction around me at the end, with someone next to me asking who they were, and if I could spell it out so they could look them up online later!

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The venue was very busy by the time Ward XVI mopped up the stage blood, with enough time for a beverage break before decimation commenced. I’ve seen Tragedy a few times now, and had dragged a few friends (and quite a few competition winners!) along to see the show. Like the openers, this isn’t just some dudes playing music, it’s a show. If you can call dodgy innuendo, glitter and Lance abuse as a show. And I do.

Tragedy are touring this year in support of their career-best (my opinion) album I Am Woman, so obviously the set contained quite a few songs off this recent triumph. There was no lack of other material, though, ranging from their original source of Bee Gees songs through other disco classics. For every “I’m So Excited” there was a “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (replete with support band, in their entirety, waving their arms to the rhythm off to the side of the stage). For every “She Bop”, a rendition of “Sweet Caroline”.

Therein lies the beauty of Tragedy. Not only do they play great music with a laugh-out-loud backdrop, they plays songs that everyone knows. Genuine classics. In our group were people aged from 21 to 50 and there wasn’t one of us who didn’t know every song the band played despite only one of us having seem them live before. Even without the humour and metal adaptation, they’d be fun. Like a wedding band that knows how to get every bugger on the dancefloor, they’ve cherry picked songs that just work.

Little bits of crowd interaction are woven throughout, enough so you’re not just screaming the lyrics. Then there’s Lance, an addition to the show which could go so wrong if it wasn’t played so well. How anyone can plough through their set acting like an unwanted interference for show after show without cracking up (or cracking a smile at the wrong time) is beyond me. He straddles the line between being loved and being hated, an permanent enigma, a… screw it. Fuck you, Lance, we love you.

Watching the audience made my night. From the lady in black to my right who was absolutely losing her shit, to the one in front of me who was celebrating her birthday, to the guys behind me banging their heads to the heavier riffs… every single one had the biggest smiles on their faces throughout.

Tragedy are the epitome of “party band”. Great music, great songs, great fun. Hands down one of those bands you just have to catch live. If you’ve not been decimated, make sure you’re there next time!

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