tue 16/07/2024

CMAT, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - an evening of exuberance | reviews, news & interviews

CMAT, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - an evening of exuberance

CMAT, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - an evening of exuberance

The Dublin singer's tales of a toxic relationship were transformed into a party

Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson enjoyed a love affair with the Glasgow crowdSarah Doyle

There was a moment towards the end of this exuberant evening when Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson compared the show to a pantomime. This was an extremely apt comparison, in a good way, for alongside the singing and dancing there was a helping of cheeky raised eyebrow wit, lashes of audience participation and even the usage of unexpected props.

When a bra was launched towards the Dublin songstress she sashayed around with it and asked for “more where that came from”, which is why several moments later the Glasgow crowd found themselves enjoying the sight of Thompson clutching more underwear while jokingly singing “Caledonia” to it. It was that sort of evening.

That isn’t intended to downplay the songs, for Thompson delivered plenty of excellent alt-country pop tunes. It’s just that even on the more plaintive, bleak “Just a Miranda” or the mental health referencing “Vincent Kompany” there was a vibrant energy that transformed them into outpourings of communal celebration.

Nearly every song rattled along with such foot stomping, voice hollering enthusiasm that the Barrowland’s famous sprung dancefloor seemed to bounce more than ever, and the amount of fans who’d donned cowboy hats, or in a few cases red berets, to emulate Thompson’s fashion choices indicated quite how heavily they’ve taken her to their hearts.

The feeling seemed mutual, given that even as the house lights came up Thompson and her band were still bobbing around the stage, by now dancing to the Spice Girls music playing over the PA. The singer possessed that movement all night, from rolling into a dance routine on early stand out “I Don’t Really Care For You” to frequently stomping up the onstage centrepiece of steps that led to a podium with a giant mirror, and then dashing around during the zestful, grin inducing “Have Fun!”. For the climax of “Peter Bogdanovich” she performed the splits to roars of approval.

The bulk of the set came from this year’s “Crazymad, for me” record, an album focused on a toxic relationship which the 27-year-old declared she wanted to go big on, and that sentiment carried over into this show. It felt like pop spectacle squeezed into a rock n’ roll hall, except instead of backing dancers she had keyboardist Colm Conlan as her dance partner and, on the 80s pop inspired “Where Are Your Kids Tonight”, a stand-in for John Grant, who performed the duet on record. Conlan, like the rest of the tartan clad four piece backing band, was on fine form, once a few sound mix niggles were adjusted early on.

The good vibes reached a crescendo during the encore’s “I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby!”, with those on the dancefloor seemingly moving as one line-dancing collective, followed by the closing “Stay For Something", a banger of pop immediacy. Earlier in the night Thompson stated this would be a “visionary night” and she delivered on that promise. Oh yes she did.

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