Weird Like Popeye – The Phantom Band live


The Phantom Band – Buskers, Dundee – Sunday 8th February 2015

If there’s one band in the last 12 months I wish that I’d seen play more often it’s the Phantom Band.

‘Strange Friend’ has been one of my favourite albums of the last few years but, before Sunday evening, I’d actually only seen two shows which featured songs from that record.

It really doesn’t feel like it’s been enough – particularly as the three shows have all been different.

Aberdeen in March combined the hits with an almost complete run through of ‘Strange Friend’ – an almost perfect setlist. Unfortunately it was somewhat undermined by a sludgy sound mix which buried Andy Wake’s keyboards, so important on the album, almost to the point of inaudibility.

By contrast the sound in October at the Pleasance Sessions was fabulously rich, but at just over an hour, the show was a tad on the short side.

Sunday night in Dundee was different again. It was one of the better sounding evenings I’ve experienced in the Doghouse/Buskers building but, whilst the core SF songs from October were retained, the set was lent a significantly different feel as the majority of new LP ‘Fears Trending’ was also played.

The immediacy of the ‘Stange Friend’ material  was matched by a storming ‘Throwing Bones’ to close the set. But otherwise the back catalogue took its cue from  the darker material on ‘Fears Trending’.


Photo by MPK2

A monolithic ‘Burial Sounds’ was one of the few choices from the debut and it fit perfectly alongside highlights from the new record including the psychedelic ska of ‘The Kingfisher’.

Prominently featured in the set were the philthy electro grooves on the likes of a magnificent ‘Denise Hopper’, regular live stand-out ‘Women of Ghent’ and ‘Into The Corn’ – the only choice from “difficult” second album ‘The Wants’.

As ever the songs, both old and new, remain constantly evolving in the live environment. Oldest song (and encore) ‘Crocodile’ has gained a false crescendo whilst much newer kid on the block ‘Sweatbox’ now boasts a synth intro (which confused the hell out of MPK2!)

Once upon a time, the Phantom Band could be a bit hit or miss live. That can’t be said these days and Sunday was ample evidence that the Phantos have developed into an unmissable live act.



1. Tender Castle  2. The Wind That Cried The World  3. Doom Patrol  4. Local Zero 5. Burial Sounds  6. Sweatbox  7. The Kingfisher  8. Into The Corn  9. Clapshot  10. Denise Hopper 11. Women of Ghent  12. Throwing Bones


13. Crocodile