sat 15/06/2024

We Are Scientists, Oran Mor, Glasgow review - fan service with a smile proves lacking | reviews, news & interviews

We Are Scientists, Oran Mor, Glasgow review - fan service with a smile proves lacking

We Are Scientists, Oran Mor, Glasgow review - fan service with a smile proves lacking

The New York duo's 80s-influenced new sound hindered their show

Keith Murray and Chris Cain still with plenty to joke about

Although We Are Scientists onstage chat is always delivered with a light touch, there is truth running through it as well. Early on at this set their singer and guitarist Keith Murray quipped that he wouldn’t be needing his lucky charm for the evening, and in a way he was right.

If the UK has always been the New Yorkers' adopted home, then Glasgow in particular is a welcoming host, and by the end of this 90-minute performance the crowd was a bouncing, singing congregation, eagerly taking a trip down memory lane.

However that doesn’t mean the actual show was a resounding success, even if Murray and his longtime comrade in arms Chris Cain are gregarious hosts. The duo cheerfully quipped away throughout the night, and their easygoing banter has a likeable air, whether reminiscing about buying Cineworld cards for birthdays or asking the audience to take a bow for their assistance on one song.

A near two-decade career cannot survive on sheer charm alone though, and the material from their early years was a reminder of why they’ve outlasted many a contemporary from the mid-2000s. “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” was snapped into, the resounding version of “After Hours” that closed the main set was a picture perfect indie dance floor filler, and “The Great Escape” caused an outbreak of pogoing to break out. They remain slick songs that sidestep being too polished, and with enough of an arched eyebrow to infuse them with character and liveliness. Essentially, they are songs with personality to them.

Which is where the gig fell down, because while the old favourites swaggered in, nearly all the tracks from this year’s “Lobes” release did not. The broadbrush 1980s influences of the set opening “Lucky Just To Be Here”, or the anodyne now-that's-what-I-call 1986 mash-up of “Operator Error” were so blunt, and lacking in anything distinctive, that it stung somewhat, as if all the interesting elements of the group were squeezed out ahead of release.

Not everything modern suffered that way, as “I Cut My Own Hair”, from 2021’s Huffy, was pleasingly funky, guided along by Cain’s wiry bass playing, and the show closing “Less from You” was comfortably the best of the new album cuts, providing a power pop finale. Yet too much of the set flickered by uneventfully, with another new offering, “Settled Accounts”, suggesting the group have now reached the state that most longterm indie acts eventually succumb to, where they feel the need to try and unconvincingly sound like Nile Rodgers.

It was noticeable in the crowd too, an inevitable quietening for new material before enjoyment resumed at the familiar, and it was hard to blame them for that vibe. Unsurprisingly a backloaded second half generated the more enthusiastic reaction that ensured Murray’s lucky charm wasn’t required, highlighted by the hard-to-resist glee of the encore’s “This Scene Is Dead”. You could close your eyes and scream out “the night is young”, and it felt like 2005 all over again. In reality though, the venue had a sharp 10pm curfew, and the air of a nostalgia show hung too thickly for comfort.

While the old favourites swaggered in, nearly all the tracks from this year’s 'Lobes' release did not

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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