In these trying times thank Glasvegas for easing any pre-apocalyptic tension. Singer, James Allan and guitarist, Rab Allan are just a couple of songs into their Instagram Live acoustic set and the Buckfast is well and truly flowing. In fact, it’s been knocked for six and the only sound to be heard is that of shattered glass, followed by Rab’s chuckles at his stunned cousin. “It’s because of the glasses!” James exclaims, blaming his shades for the mishap. “It’s a good job we got 5 bottles. It’s such a waste,” he surrenders forlornly whilst around 600 viewers giggle into the glare from their phones.
Acoustic and electric guitars, and a couple of reverb drenched mics at the ready, Scotland’s finest rockabilly romantics are spending their Saturday night in the comfort of strangers; they’ve stopped by the offy for a few carrier bags of their favoured red stuff and taken to their candy-striped couches to perform the evening’s hottest virtual ticket in town – a live set of choice cuts from their back catalogue, stripped back in all its acoustic Glasvegas glory.
This is not your typical House party; there are no cops or kids on scooters churning up their mam’s petunias a la Quadrophenia. The ragers of youth have been replaced with a rather more sophisticated occasion and tonight’s 30-minute set offers a moment of calm amidst the storm. Doused in red lamplight, there is a loungey boudoir feel and angled towards each other, there’s a poignant intimacy (with the air of an empty Twin Peaks Roadhouse) as projections of footage depicting mushroom clouds from atomic testing explode in slow motion and time-lapse cityscapes cascade across back-to-front drawn curtains, seemingly reflecting the fragile moment we’re currently living in.
Opening with fan favourite ‘Flowers & Football Tops’ from their self-titled debut album, it’s in this setting the duo’s vocals and guitar lines shine, each complementing the other from their backing harmonies to what’s become their trademark all-black uniforms. The pair joke with the viewers and discuss the merits of bandmate Paul’s bum and reminisce of times performing on late night TV shows in the US, likening the current situation to that of a ‘Letterman lockdown’ before dedicating ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart (That Makes Me Cry)’ to the TV host. With the camera on landscape, the reception is intermittent as the two hosts are occasionally transformed into outlined blobs, but the stream soon settles and essentially, their haunting reverb resounds as a reminder that each song is suited equally to the living room as performing before a full house at Barrowland.
Those having caught the pair perform as part of their acoustic tour at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen just before Christmas will remember discussions about forthcoming new album Godspeed – which, whilst James briefly darts out of view to find his capo, Rab assures viewers is on its way. “It’s ironic that it’s taken us about 6 years to finish this new record and now its finally ready, something is saying don’t release this fucking album!” he jokes. “Ah but how long did it take Brian Wilson to release Smile?” asks James reminding everyone that the good will out.
They explain that the album was scheduled for an October release but has been put back “to give it the best chance,” then unleash their new song ‘Keep Me A Space’ – a stand-alone first single because; “it wouldn’t fit the album aesthetically,” and which, they reveal, will precede more single releases this year with the new album release and touring next year. As archive footage showing crowds of people with 70s haircuts walk in slow motion it’s a track that somehow mirrors our stark reality and moves to its own, dreamy, lullaby; its bittersweet melody swinging back and forth before building to a rousing and suitably apt chorus; “nothing lasts forever some people say, all things must pass.”
After a brief early Mother’s Day appreciation message for their mums who are care workers, a fan posts “support the NHS” and the duo move through the remainder of the set with more fan favourites including ‘Geraldine,’ ‘If’, and ‘Daddy’s Gone,’ the latter of which James reveals he has shared a turbulent relationship with. ‘Go Square Go’ and ‘Whitey’ resound as more comments stream in from the right of the screen and the pair closing their set with their revered cover of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby.’ ‘Songs so full of emotion’ offers one viewer. Others might just call it ‘smashing.’