Vigo Thieves – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 29/03/14

vigo-thieves-band-shotIt’s always an exciting moment; heading along to see a Glasgow – or in this case just outside (Wishaw) – band taking the stage for their triumphant homecoming. And that’s what I was here to witness as the hotly tipped Vigo Thieves, fresh from glowing press write-ups, headlined the O2 ABC, their biggest show to date.

The crowd was packed in, full of Mums and Dads, Aunties and Uncles in all their finery along with those with their ear to the ground with regard to the up and coming Scottish music scene. No doubt this was a hot ticket. I went into this knowing nothing about the band save the hype. Well thought of by my ‘Scramble colleagues I entered full of hope rather than expectation. An open mind, uncluttered by preconceptions is surely the best way to judge new music.

Sadly, my optimism didn’t last long. The band were rapturously received onstage and, for the better part of an hour, they put their heart and soul into the gig. No way could you doubt what this meant to the guys, but for me it left me cold. It seemed totally lacking in originality. Song after song left me thinking “that’s Simple Minds, that’s Joshua Tree-era U2, that’s ‘Dancing in the Dark'”. It’s not to say that bands shouldn’t wear their influences on their sleeves. It’s pretty obvious that without The Beatles there wouldn’t have been Oasis, no Rolling Stones means no Primal Scream (I won’t hold Mick and Keith personally responsible though), but if you’re headlining the ABC then I expect you to be able to transcend those influences and bring something of your own to the party.

There were moments of quality – ‘Ghosts’ was great complete with the release of beach balls into the crowd, singer Stevie Jukes crowd-surfing and getting his mic knocked over by an errant inflatable. But even some of the more off-the-cuff moments seemed forced. Stevie tossing his guitar to the roadie was pure Springsteen, but it was too Springsteen. The guys are a good band, that’s not debatable. What they lack is charisma and identity. Yes they can write an anthem akin to The Killers, but The Killers have already done that. They need to take the next step because with the support they have – 1000 tickets sold for an unsigned band – the success is there for them. But right now, it seems like “X Factor rock”. Safe, family friendly, contrived. They need to push some boundaries if they want that record deal.

I really went into this gig with hope and excitement and I really hope the band develop. I want to ‘Believe’.

Graeme Campbell

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