sun 14/07/2024

Dream Wife, St Lukes and the Winged Ox, Glasgow review - an exhilarating reminder of live music's power | reviews, news & interviews

Dream Wife, St Lukes and the Winged Ox, Glasgow review - an exhilarating reminder of live music's power

Dream Wife, St Lukes and the Winged Ox, Glasgow review - an exhilarating reminder of live music's power

The trio's dynamic set was filled with communal spirit and great tunes

Dream Wife, in a rare calm moment

Rakel Mjöll has a nice line in understatement. “We released this album in July 2020”, she said at one point, referring to her band’s sophomore record “So When You Gonna...” before adding, dryly, “which wasn’t the best time”. Finally, nearly two years later, Dream Wife have managed to get out on the road and actually tour those songs, and, thankfully, this was an evening worth the wait.

A glowing logo with the band name on it hung above the stage in the converted church that is St Luke’s, and like a punky Bat Signal, when lit up the band appeared, with bassist Bella Podpadec in particular racing onstage. Then it was straight into an opening one-two of “Hey Heartbreaker” and “Hasta La Vista”, both of which were pummelled out, containing sardonic wit and yet oozing rock star machismo at the same time.

At their heart, Dream Wife as a live band simply make performing onstage look like the most fun imaginable, and that vibe ran through the whole 80 minute set, from Mjöll taking excursions into the crowd and flipping between a coy smile and screaming her lungs out, to the constantly moving Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go facing off during the rambunctious punk-funk of “Sports”, with the crowd divided into two cheer on their “player”.

Such enthusiasm and old fashioned crowd participation did mean some of the band’s lyricism and storytelling was lost under a steadily increasing array of jumping bodies, but the group, joined by live drummer Alex Paveley, had other ways to get their points across.

Mjöll’s declaration that “gender is a construct” was greeted with roars of approval from an all ages crowd, while the band’s traditional demand for all the “bad bitches” to come down the front was an opportunity eagerly taken by many, albeit with a typical Glasgow response of “gie’s us a minute hen” being yelled back from one woman manoeuvring herself through the throng.

At other times, they made their mark in more virulent form, with Mjöll furiously yelling “just have some fucking empathy” over a blast of noise on “Empathy”, an exhilarating wild animal of a tune. The same could be true of several other highlights here, from a version of “Hot” that snapped along, Mjöll piercingly staring into the audience before suddenly shifting across the stage, to the killer twangy riff propelling “Somebody”, complete with a cutting vocal delivery of “I am not my body, I am somebody”. Best of all was a mighty rendition of "F.U.U", here extended into a lengthy jam, amid waves of noise. 

These are songs for the head and the heart, or perhaps the head and the groin, that make you think at the same time as making you dance, and make you revel in being part of a communal experience. After two years it was also a reminder of just how special live music can be.

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