Goldfrapp, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, April 4th, 2014
If you could describe Alison Goldfrapp in one word, it would be chameleon. The slight and striking singer flits easily between coy and coquettish to wailing banshee to ethereal angel, depending upon the mood and probably which of their albums she is focusing on. Their most recent album Tales of Us is a very stripped back affair and feels as if Alison and her musical partner Will Gregory have returned to their debut Felt Mountain, and it was a bold move to play almost all this album straight from the off. Those waiting for the more uplifting and dancey Number 1, Ride A White Horse and Train had to sit quietly in their seats till near the end of the gig. But there’s a sense that the band are confident enough in their work and how they deliver it, and they should be. They got everything spot on. The sound was astounding, the power behind the quieter songs was spellbinding, courtesy of Alison’s vocals which soared and were perfectly showcased on the likes of Jo and Annabel. The stage lighting was simple but effective and the overall result was a stunning performance from a band that know how to keep mixing it up and are constantly changing and evolving into something new and exciting.
Justin Timberlake, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, April 5th 2014
As exuberant as a puppy, Justin Timberlake gave the crowd what they came for and this gig left you thinking – is there anything he can’t turn his hand to? He can sing, dance, play instruments, act, look smooth and just put on a highly entertaining show. He looked like he was loving every minute – the crowd certainly were. The show was slick and polished right down to his shiny shoes which slid effortlessly throughout songs like Rock Your Body.
He made good use of the space, ensuring that all sections of the Hydro could see the full Justin experience – as at one point the huge hydraulic runaway bridge traveled across the Hydro as Justin ran from end to end during a rousing Let The Groove Get In.
The dancing and razzmatazz took a backseat when he sat at the piano and played a rendition of My Love. Two unexpected covers were aired, Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, when he took to a b-stage with a guitar, and Michael Jackson’s Human Nature.
A shortened version of the Jay Z collaboration Holy Grail segued into the soulful Cry Me A River which produced a massive sing-along from the Glasgow crowd. Take Back The Night ensured the crowd kept dancing and they had long ago reached fever pitch by the time he got to the finale which included the steamy Sexyback.
Elbow, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, April 6th, 2014
Guy Garvey, the amiable Elbow front man from Bury managed to make a gig at huge SSE Hydro feel like an intimate house party and we were all invited. Even the gatecrashers would get a pint, as long as they weren’t causing bother. He wished his niece a happy birthday, admitted he didn’t buy her a present, then sang her the wrong song. He outed couples on a first date and even got the male sector of the audience to say “I love”. Justin Timberlake, the Hydro’s guest from the night before, he is not, but nonetheless in his own way Garvey has a knack for making the ordinary extraordinary. None more so than in his songs – where the lyrics are romantic paeans to rain-soaked pavements, glittering street lights and dark, dingy, deserted alleyways. It’s no surprise he cited Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile as an influence. The parallels with Manchester and Glasgow, historically northern industrial towns with a hard, gritty but often creative edge can also be seen.
We got a batch of songs from their sixth album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything, and they went down well with the crowd. The mood was relaxed, perhaps slightly safe but with a genuine warm fuzzy feeling of love and affection.
A constant throughout was the vocal performance of Garvey, world-weary on the ode to lost drinking companions, My Sad Captains, rousing on Grounds for Divorce and angelic on The Night Will Always Win, Great Expectations and The Blanket of Night which was sung from a b-stage in the centre of the audience with Craig Potter on piano.
Mirrorball and The Bones of You emphasized further the band’s unashamedly romantic side. Garvey always seemed to make himself available for the crowd and if you were standing anywhere near the front you probably felt as if Garvey was singing just for you.
There seems to be no other song to end an Elbow gig than One Day Like This. And if they’ve got fed up with this track’s exalted status to some kind of anthemic utopia, it doesn’t show. Garvey was thrilled by the massive crowd sing-along which eventually ended with the friendly front man surrounded by gigantic coloured bouncing balls.