Arcade State, one of Glasgow’s as yet undiscovered gems, finally hit the north west. Manchester, was the welcoming host, on a crisp mid March day, clear blue skies throughout. You know, those kind of days that take you back to the carefree times of being a teenager, where summer seemed never ending.
As the sun set, and the temperature dropped, music fans from the length and breadth of the country descended into the cities ‘Northern Quarter’, and the cosy, welcoming 33 Oldham Street. Listen Up Music are at the forefront of the independent music scene in the city. Since we’ve started to acclimatise to ‘living with covid’ and gigs have returned with a vengeance, Listen Up have started to ramp up their live offerings, with some of the most talented undiscovered acts on from all corners of the UK.
I can’t remember the last time I went to an ‘underground music’ gig, without bumping into someone I knew. It’s nice to be able to grab a ticket and not worry about being alone (not that I ever was too bothered). I’d imagine some of the women involved in the new music scene probably feel a little more safe, knowing they have friends, male and female alike, at gigs to look out for them too. The scene is really buzzing at the moment and there is so much talent around, bursting to be heard.
First up on the night was Midlands native ‘Jay Tennant‘. Jay has been on my radar for the last 18 months or so. A talented male solo artist, a throwback to the rock and roll stars of days gone by, great look, great sound. It’s a crowded market place and difficult to stand out, but Jay has done that with each and every single release since I came across him. Accompanied on the night by scottish singer songwriter Martin Leary, Jay was the perfect opener for the show. Serenading fans with his catalogue of tracks, ‘Spectre’ being a real crowdpleaser live, as it did as a single. A wonderful touch was Jay singing ‘Eminence’ one of Martin Leary’s own tracks. A sign of the times was Jay having a reminder of the lyrics, on his phone as he performed. Considering these guys had only ever jammed via video call, it’s a testament to their talent that they managed an accomplished set which really got the crowd firing. Jay’s decision to end his set with the classic Verve track ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ only amplified the volume. One can only imagine Jay’s presence with a full band behind him at future gigs.
Following on from Jay’s set were the accomplished ‘The Shop Window‘, a band almost thirty years in the making, when charismatic frontmen Carl and Simon first forayed into music with the band ‘Westpier’. After enjoying varying degrees of success the pair reunited in 2019 and ‘The Shop Window’ were formed. Last year saw the release of the acclaimed album ‘The State of Being Human’ and a rare appearance up north, was a must see for their adoring fans.
The band were extremely tight, you could tell these guys have ability and experience in abundance. The harmonies were incredible, with almost a psychic connection between Carl and Simon, and the band rolled back the years. Latest single ‘Lighthouse’ really set the pulses racing, with the band offering the crowd a glimpse of their next track to boot. The venue filled up further, the temperature rising both on and off the stage as the fans awaited Glasgow’s Arcade States arrival.
Despite the absence of Scott Frank from Arcade State’s line up, the anticipation of seeing one of Scotland’s rising talents was palpable. Frontman Ciaran Murray hopped up on stage, and gave a little introduction. As the lights dimmed, his stunning vocal echoed around the silenced room. Showcasing his guitar skills on an unreleased track ‘A slave to the waves’ until out of the darkness, bandmates Jordan Murray, David Daly and new member Kieran Robertson joined him on stage.
‘Welcome to Arcade State’ – As the nights line up was complete, the sound went up another level. The beauty of this band is their ability to convey meaningful lyrics, melodic sounds, and hard hitting guitar and drums all in a matter of seconds.
The band shone throughout, delighting fans with their established tracks, like ‘When it hits home’, ‘Alone again’ and ‘Follow’. Freshly released ‘Even in the dark days, you draw a smile’ is hauntingly beautiful when live.
Ciaran, complete with cheeky grin, and oozing charm, wowed the audience with his warmth, and undeniable talent, a vocal range that took me a little by surprise in the best possible way. Sometimes, bands and artists can’t convey the vocal found on their recorded tracks, to a live environment. Ciaran positively shone on this score.
Standout tracks ‘Splinter’ and the beautifully heartfelt ‘Silence’ were delivered superbly before the set finished with ‘Hard to grow’, well I say finished, the fans were desperate for more, and in an unplanned encore, the band went again with ‘Dance like the flames’ another as yet unreleased track.
It’s nice when those with talent shine, even nicer when they are grounded and grateful to their fans. There is something special cooking in the Scottish music scene at the moment, and Arcade State are without doubt one of the core ingredients.
Images Courtesy of Ricky Atterby