Ten years used to feel like a long time. Nowadays it seems most of the records I’ve enjoyed seem to be reaching their decennial, and in 2012 Finch’s seminal debut What It Is To Burn reached that milestone. Despite the band going on extended hiatus in 2005 and a brief resurgence in 2010 before announcing an official split, the band reformed to take the album on tour across the United States before adding more dates and finally making across the Atlantic ocean to visit our hallowed isle.
But before we saw how Finch fared, there were two other bands to see first. For a change I’d made it in for doors o’clock, and so joined around 30-50 folk in watching local band Fluorescent Hearts try their best to get the crowd going. Unfortunately 30-50 folk is practically nothing in a venue the size of the ABC, so despite giving it their all there wasn’t much of a response other than polite applause from the few folk who didn’t have one hand busy holding on to a beer. Not too bad, but perhaps a wee bit wedding band-ey, they did surprise and impress with a capable rendition of Savage Garden’s “To The Moon and Back”.
The main reason for getting in early though was to see Mallory Knox. After enjoying their first full length album Signals, I was curious to see how they’d sound before seeing them on their own headline tour in April. I’m very happy to say that they were very good and will have absolutely no trouble being the main act even if they’re playing smaller venue The Cathouse. Playing 7 songs featuring a mix of album tracks and a couple from EP Pilot, the band sounded great and got a positive response from the crowd. The band were up for it performance wise with a little bit of chat between songs. I found their set flew past and I almost forgot they were there on support duty, which can only bode well for their future.
However, the highest accolade of the night deservedly went to the band from the past. As it’s What It Is To Burn‘s tenth anniversary, the purpose of this tour was to play the album in full. More often when you go to see a band you’d fear that they’d dig out a few indulgent crap songs to bolster the set. Thankfully, this album has none and as its running time is just over an hour, it is a perfect first half of a gig set list.
As the lights fell and the introductory loop of “New Beginnings” played, the band took up position in the darkness before the lights blasted on, the song kicked into life proper, and the crowd of one time young ‘un’s, now late twenty/early thirty something’s, went mental. Clearly Finch are a band well-remembered and well-respected by their loyal fan base and the fervour of the lively crowd seemed to take frontman Nate Barcalow a little by surprise. A few songs in he says they’d played Manchester the night before and it was good, but the Glasgow crowd puts them to shame. It might be gig rhetoric, but he’s seconded by guitarist Randy Strohmeyer who was happy to tell the audience about his Scottish heritage, which I suspect he may have embraced a little too much by downing a few whiskies beforehand. If he was under the influence, at least he was a sociable and entertaining boozer.
You wouldn’t think that it had been a few years since the band had played together, let along played some of the songs that would not have normally made it to a live set. They were quite simply great, in all musicianship and both clean and dirty vocals still sounding just as fresh as they did ten years ago. Finch have a plethora of singable songs which the crowd seemed to know every word of. My own little throat was torn to shreds by the end of the night as I howled away like a loony whilst my mate sang the cleaner parts. I haven’t done that since early Biffy Clyro gigs with my brother, so it was a bit of a personal slice of awesome for me.
Near the end of the first part of the set, “Ender” turned out to be the only slight disappointment as I was interested to see how it translated to a live show but was largely PA playback for the most part with only Randy staying on stage for most of it. The band quickly returned though with “Worms of the Earth” and two more lesser known extra tracks before finally putting the icing on the proverbial cake with the albums’ closer and title track. Finishing the song, the band took the time to wave and take a bow to rapturous applause from a crowd of extremely happy campers.
What It Is To Burn for me is a near perfect album. The only thing I can immediately think of that beats it is 2005 follow-up Say Hello To Sunshine. Frankly, I cannot wait until 2015 and will be keeping all appendages crossed in the hope of a repeat showing. Welcome back guys. I want you to know that I missed you so.
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