Saturday 18th I found myself in Stereo, Glasgow. Bloodlines were the main event but I’d been drawn along by memories of seeing The 21st State before and was anticipating a thunderous evening. As for the openers, Crystal; well?
They opened with ‘Whisper’ from their 2016 EP Youth. The first thing I noticed was Anna Shields incredible voice, the timbre, tone and assured stance belie her 20 years. With the band sliding on into the bluesy and hypnotic ‘Devil’ they really showed their teeth, whinging edgy guitar, pummeling bass and crisp steady drums.
I was taking my ignorance for a walk here, this band should be doing big things I thought and guess what, they’ve had a support slot with Paulo Nuttini at the Edinburgh Hogmany Night Afore show and appearances on the Janice Forsyth Show (BBC Radio Scotland). You can find Anna busking in Glasgow most weekends.
The set was built around the Youth EP with a brilliant new number ‘I’d Like to See You Care’ before the grungy ‘Style’ makes singing “Why don’t you go fuck yourself” perfectly acceptable. They pulled out a haunting cover of ‘Burning Down The House’ (Talking Heads) that may have been better than the original and finished a breathless 30 minutes with ‘Passed Down’.
This was a blinder of an opening act, pulling in and mixing blues, grunge, a wee country vibe and soulful singing. It’s hard to be the first on, playing to a half empty venue with punters milling about and making a racket but Crystal caught the full attention of the crowd, pulled them to the front and kept them there. As the last notes of ‘Passed Down’ faded and the cheering hushed Anna Shields stood on the stage in a reverie as the crew began setting up The 21st State.
I think making the effort to see the support has paid off again, the mix of intelligent well-crafted songs, no fear of experimenting with old and new sounds coupled to an expressive and older-than-it’s-years voice is captivating and I was left wanting more.
Photos: Blair at Cut Throat Media