Andy Wood gets in a minibus to see Vladimir headline Tut’s last weekend
I couldn’t honestly tell you how many times I’ve seen Vladimir play over the last few years but you can rest assured it’s more than a few times.
An excellent, short, sharp shock of a set supporting The Fall at Oran Mor at the end of July somehow enthused me into thinking that it would be a great idea to organise a bus load of reprobates from Dundee to see Vladimir play their first headline show at King Tuts in Glasgow and that’s what I did. And despite a few hairy moments including driving through battering rain and almost rolling back down West Campbell Street just before we arrived at Tuts, it was a gig well worth seeing.
Two buses make their way through from Dundee and we’re met by a healthy scattering of friendly faces which almost made it feel like a hometown show but even early on there were plenty of new faces in the room as well as Glasgow has been pretty much a second hometown for Vladimir from the early gigs on.
First up, there was the matter of three supports. None of whom I knew a thing about but then ain’t that the thrill of turning up at gigs reasonably early.
First out of the blocks were Candy Maps who looked impossibly young and sounded impossibly old. Or at least like chunks of my youth which was, after all, some time ago.
Three boys and a girl, they mixed a C86 / dreampop sound and had the first stand-up drummer I’ve seen in a long time. They looked fairly nervous and there wasn’t much in the way of chat between the songs but their fragile, fuzzy sound was enjoyable and sweet and they have a single, Falling Down, available online and it’s pretty damn good.
They also finished up with a cover of Aztec Camera’s ‘Somewhere In My Heart’ which they dedicated to The Lapelles Gary Watson who tragically died recently. From one East Kilbride band to another with love.
Mono Wave were a slicker, more robust proposition. A trio with a nice line in strong rhythms and expressive guitar lines my first thought was that they had more than a passing intimacy with early Ride with a sound that was both physical and slightly ethereal.
They were tighter than Candy Maps pretty enjoyable but occasionally felt a little clinical in places. Definitely worth watching out for in the coming months.
Echo Moon, on the other hand, were dreary and we fled for the refuge of the downstairs bar after a couple of songs. They were tight as hell, proficient musicians but dull as ditch water with a whiff of ‘Rock School’ about them. Not my cup of poison.
Right from the opening notes of the first song, ‘Beat’, they were on fire. The sound and performance were spot-on, pounding through your skull and whacking the crowd smack in the solar plexus.
While intense is a word bandied around Vladimir (I plead guilty on that one), there is also a lot of nuance in their sound. Catchy melodies abound and this was almost a greatest hits set with the singles ‘Smoke Eyes’, ‘Come Over’ and ‘I Try’ inspiring outbursts of dancing and jumping around from the audience.Put simply, these are great songs which you should be able to hear on the radio.
The performance is furious and ecstatic, sunshine and darkness. The reconstruction of ‘Born Slippy’ is amazing. It’s less a cover than a re-write and all the better for it. I love the original but I think I may love Vladimir’s version at least as much.
They finish with the pounding, defiant call to arms that is ‘Revolution Children’, a fantastic climax to a fantastic set.
The set flies by in no time at all, lean and fit, no excess flab to it. There’s no messing about, no chat between songs, just the songs and the performance which you lose yourself in. It’s all over in a blur as it comes to an end full tilt with crashing chords and the refrain of ‘We are Vladimir’ ringing in your ears over the cheers, claps and calls for ‘one more tune’. There will be no encore. Vladimir always leave you wanting more, more, more. It’s bloody addictive.
Afterwards, as our ears start to retain some semblance of normality and our senses start to gather we make our way out into the night after a last drink for the road, everyone agrees on one thing. We saw something pretty special tonight.