glasvegas at the commodore ballroom

Sunday night’s Glasvegas show at the Commodore Ballroom is best likened to a first date with that person you’ve noticed several times on the bus and finally got the courage up to talk to. They were polite and sincere; just as grateful to be in your presence as you in theirs. My only disappointment was quickly their set seemed to end. They played their wee hearts out, sounding just like the album, lyrics as audible as ever (which is only marginally so, depending on your comprehension of Glaswegian). They jumped from song to song. One encore. No social commentary, no “hello, Vancouver,” no queries to the audience, just an incredibly paced show that was over before I knew it. Maybe they just know their strengths or maybe they just wanted to get it over with. Awkward nerves, perhaps?

The mood was fantastically set, with incredible lighting, dominated by a pulsating purple that seemed to perfectly capture the essence of all that is Glasvegas. (One of my good friends is a lighting designer and he forces me to appreciate these things.) They played all the hits, which was to be expected with only one full studio album. I had read reviews of other Glasvegas shows where they covered golden oldies, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed they didn’t. I would have loved to hear Allan’s version of “Rave On”.

While the headliners were exactly what I expected, opening band, Von Iva, having “left their guitars and penises at home,” were the delightful surprise of the evening. I want to call Von Iva neo-Riot Grrl, but I don’t want to prematurely attach an unwanted label and thus sell them short. Like their tour mates, they’re exploding with potential.

I first chanced upon Glasgow band, Glasvegas back in September when I was in London. Reading one of those free dailes shoved into your hands as you exit the tube, I caught a review of their self-titled debut album. The mental note to check them out was made as I noticed a comparison to The Clash (Or perhaps that was just a note on James Allan’s looks. I’m sure he is more than sick of hearing just how much he looks like Joe Strummer. It is a little creepy.)

Glasvegas was released to great reviews, and when the Guardian proclaimed it one of the top ten albums of 2008, I finally bought it. I had already fallen for their singles “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone,” so it was a welcome love affair. Needlesss to say, I was really looking forward to this concert, so much so that I almost expected teen comedy shenanigans to ensue on my journey from the burbs down to the Commodore. Despite the wonderful reviews, Glasvegas has some detractors, those who call them overrated. Where most bands with the kind of success they’ve had with a debut album usually tank on their sophmore effort, I have a feeling that Glasvegas are still growing into themselves, and I can see Allan’s potential. His stage presence was just what I expected given his songs: thoughtful and humble. I’m looking forward to the second date.

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