Live music is back. Back at my favourite new venue. They’ve made a few changes to the Live Room at Future Yard in Birkenhead since I last attended one of their socially distanced gigs. The high tables built from colourful crates have been replaced by rows of smaller, numbered, wooden desks. To the artists performing, it must look like some bizarre school exam hall where masked invigilators bring the students alcohol at regular intervals. All the desks were full. No absentees. Today’s subject: Glasgow’s captivating electronic/rock purveyors – VLURE.
First up however, is local artist Zee Davine, probably best known for being the lead singer with the shining brightly, burning quickly, now defunct Queen Zee. Tonight, Zee Davine has been reinvented as an industrial techno artist. Wearing a bush hat and adidas tracksuit top, standing behind his equipment draped with graffitied banners proclaiming ‘Birko Uber Alles’, Zee mixes huge dystopian loops and samples that assault the room. Making great use of Future Yard’s excellent lighting system, it was an attack on the senses. White light, white noise. A vibrant 20 minute set came to a climatic finish as Davine walked off stage to a remarkably distorted Come on Eileen. It sounded like someone had cut a hole in the fabric of space and we were eves-dropping on some post-apocalyptical wedding party from a parallel universe.
You could hear the night’s headliners before you could see them. Off stage came some primal scream therapy as singer Hamish Hutcheson psyched himself up for VLURE’s first live performance in many, long months. There was no ring-rust in the Glasgow band’s performance as they treated the seated, capacity crowd to a captivating, energetic, cinematic, genre-bending set of songs.
Hutcheson is a killer front-man. At times aloof, he has a well-honed thousand yard stare, at other times intimate and vulnerable, he sits on the stage apron confiding his inner thoughts to the audience. His dance moves are a passionate post-punk hybrid of Ian Curtis and Gang of Four‘s Jon King. And as for his vocals, well, they boom. At one point during I Won’t Run (From Love), Hutcheson’s microphone jack comes out. Sat two rows back from the stage it was hard to tell any difference.
The band’s look matches elements of their music – decisive, industrial, functional. Dr. Marten shoes, black trousers, white vests and leather waistcoats. Guitarist Connor Goldie looks like he has stolen Dave Gahan’s Violator era stage clothes.
The set starts in dramatic style with Desire. The room fills with what sounds like an electronic heartbeat coupled with sirens and horns. Carlo Kriekaard’s real, pounding drums and Niall Goldie’s driving bass provide a foundation for Connor Goldie’s big guitar licks, and Alex Pearson’s synth riffs to swirl around. When not shouting, Hutcheson’s voice has a Caquality to it. At other times he sounds like a Caledonian Gabi Delgado. It’s electronic, industrial, dark, rock music, amalgamated to catchy synth riffs and percussive beats which make you wish you were allowed to get up and dance. There is a cultivated, creative artifice to VLURE’s performance, at times defiantly distant, at others achingly open depending on the needs of the song. Only once does Hutcheson let his mask slip. When introducing Forever, smiling, he admits that the band ‘have not played live for eighteen months, and this is fucking brilliant!’
The band perform their current single Shattered Faith, a song that sounds like Black Sabbath are covering a KLF tune, before they do a monumental cover the Faithless classic God Is A DJ. There’s an almost messianic aura about Hutcheson’s performance as he stands center stage, bare-chested, arms outstretched, bellowing – ‘This is my Church’. The set finishes with Euphoria ’94, during which Niall Goldie’s bass set-up packs in completely and he walks off stage. Thankfully, all is well again in time for the audience to demand an encore of Desire.
Results in –
Future Yard – A*
Zee Davine – A*
VLURE – A*
Okay, it’s very nearly time to put the desks away, fill the hall with people, and dance.