While the Antipodes is going nuts for some band or other hailing from Glasgow, it was time for me to put my gladrags on (well, suitable garb, at least) and head to Glasgow’s East End to the iconic Barras for what promised to be a (if not THE) highlight of 2024 and watch the New King of Scotland (as I have now coined him) Hamish Hawk rip up the Barras stage.
The OH chaperoned me there for – not going to lie – after long periods of not going to gigs my anxieties when attending them increase dramatically. I didn’t fancy being in the queue outside alone, so she came along just to see me into the venue. We arrived at Queen Street around 5.30pm and got to the Barras just on 6pm. There was already a small queue with approximately 12 people ahead of me. I was assured that I had a pretty good chance of getting to the barrier. I know some think I’m nuts for wanting to be at the front, but one: I love having an unobscured view of the action and two: the barrier provides me with the right kind of prop I need to enjoy the action and stay on my feet.
The doors opened just after 7pm. There was the mad scramble from those ahead of me to get up those iconic stairs and into the main auditorium as quickly as possible. I had to take things more slow and steady. And, because of the way they were letting people in (unlike how it was for SM back in 2018 when it did feel like it was ‘on your marks, get set, GO!’), there was a little trickle of people going up the stairs. So much so that I had time to take a few quick snaps of the stairs and interiors of the ballroom before making my way to the barrier. I guess had I been quicker, I might have got in a little closer to the centre, but I was more than happy where I ended up – on the right side on the stage, just at the edge but still with a great view of the rest of the stage to my left.
Support last night came from Voka Gentle, a band under the same management team at PostElectric. I wasn’t really sure what to expect musically, but every support act I’ve seen at Hamish’s gigs have been fabulous, so my expectations were high. Voka Gentle didn’t disappoint. They are a real fusion of genres – some 90s grunge, some ambient dance, some MCing and rap stylings. A real mix but they make it an intriguing blend and it’s all very fabulous and trippy. I really enjoyed their short 30 minute set. If you’re interested in checking them out, you can follow them on Instagram at: voka_gentle where they have a link to their Bandcamp store.
Almost right on the tick of nine, Hamish’s band started to make their way on stage. I was intrigued as to the way the stage had been split. Stefan was going to be up on a riser – but the riser extended across the stage, not just for Stefan’s drum kit. There was a guitar next to the kit and I was thinking surely Andrew isn’t going to be up there? He’s normally next to Hamish. The bass was down on the lower stage. The keyboards at the back to the right (from audience viewpoint) of the drum kit. It all became clear when they guys entered the stage. We had a second guitarist last night! The young guy who played bass for Hamish in Blackpool was on the back riser playing a second guitar.
The cheer that went up around the Barras as Hamish walked on stage was AMAZING. I almost felt like a proud mum listening to that deafening cheer, thinking, ‘that’s ma boy! Soak it up.’ He cut a fine figure in a full double breasted brown suit, dressing up for the occasion. What is it about men in suits at the Barras, eh?
I didn’t get my hands on a setlist – even just to photograph – so my memory of song order may be a bit sketchy but I’m sure they started with Calls To Tiree. There were a number of songs in the set from both Heavy Elevator and Angel Numbers. There also included a new appearance from Angel Numbers with Once Upon An Acid Glance given an airing.
Around halfway through the set, the rest of the band went off for a break and Hamish performed solo with an acoustic guitar. He performed the beautiful Catherine Opens A Window from his debut album with The New Outfit back in 2018. It really is the most beautiful piece of songwriting.
Standouts for me? Well, the song just mentioned was plus, Dog-eared August, Desperately, Think Of Us Kissing, Angel Numbers, Bakerloo Unbecoming, This – Whatever It Is Needs Improvements, and, of course the badminton one – which was just incredible to hear the whole swell of the Barras crowd singing along with him.
They ended the set with Caterpillar and the cheer – I’d never heard anything like it. It was incredible. The place was just buzzing! I did wonder if that was it, as Hamish didn’t do his normal preamble of ‘we don’t do encores – once we head off stage, that’s it, show’s over folks.’ He didn’t say anything like that so when they went off after Caterpillar I was thinking, hello, are they going to do an encore?! When they came back out to a mighty raucous cheer (it has to be said), Hamish said ‘we never do this.’ The encore was a cover and one that I really wasn’t expecting but OH MY WORD, I wish I had filmed it. They did Pixies Debaser. I mean – wow! What a song to pick! He knows how to throw out a curveball, does young Hamish.
Honestly, there are not enough superlatives for last night’s gig. What a tonic it was! What a life-affirming injection my wee heart was needing. I kept thinking about that number seven I found in the gravel of the front seating area of the MacArts in Galashiels and how it felt like some kind of omen to come across. A little good luck charm. Something that would have some kind of significance. Well, last night was lucky 7 of headline performances I have seen from Hamish in the space of the past 12 months. From the St Luke’s gig on February 16th last year, until last night’s gig – every occasion seeing him has been special and he never faltered with any. But last night at Barrowland Ballroom something extra special happened. It was like a kind of ‘coming of age’ and things moving up a gear, another level. Acoustics were absolutely spot on, the band were tight and performed fantastically. And then there’s Hamish. Exemplary songwriting, exemplary live performer. The man needs to be HUMONGOUS! He deserves to be selling out the Barras for five nights running – and I’d go and see every single show.
I don’t think I have any more to say. I think those of you who regularly visit my blog have come accustomed to my waxing lyrical about the phenomenal talent Hamish is. If you don’t get it and you don’t get him, more fool you. I wouldn’t understand it at all.
That Simple Minds gig at Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh has come to symbolise so much, namely what feels like the tolling of the bell for me as the most passionate and diehard of SM fans and the delivery to me of the New King apparent. Next gig for me will be Caezar at the CCA next Thursday – then it will be SM at the Hydro. Can Mr Kerr pull me back into the fold? Will he want to? Will he bother? Let us see at Easter!
Lastly, I took very few photos at the gig last night and only filmed one song – the lovely Bridget St John. I just wanted to soak up all the joy. And you know what? There were some young people beside me who during pre show and between sets had their phones out, taking selfies and messaging friends but then put their phones away and NEVER took them out while the bands were on stage – wonderful!