Stereo in Glasgow is a modest venue located in a city centre lane in a basement where concrete and brickwork provide acoustic challenges for engineers and those bands who venture into the depths to ply their wares. The entrance through the vegan restaurant above makes for an eclectic mix of patrons prior to a rock gig but there is a wonderfully welcoming feel to the place.
On arriving, I literally bump into Vega’s front man Nick Workman - resplendent in shorts, t-shirt and smile. With soundcheck complete and ticket holders arriving he urges us to head into the venue early to catch the local support act, Beef Monk, who will be opening the night before Midnite City and Vega step onstage.
Beef Monk have an innocence that is instantly engaging. The line up of Bob Gibb (vocals), Paul Curran (guitar), Phil Britton (bass) and Jack Scott (drums) play a nu-metal style that seems at odds with the family and friends who are gathered at the front of the stage to show their support. Their material is diverse with frontman Gibb switching from screamed lines to more traditional singing as the tracks ebb and flow from metal to rocky funk.
The first track is played with technical skill and it’s clear the band have talent that could be showcased better with some stagecraft. Nodding to parents and pals, taking cans of beer from friends and admitting they don’t have a name for the first song are all wonderfully warm moments that most bands lose as they learn that craft of working a crowd and stage.
There are elements of Primus, Rage Against the Machine among others in the short set and this makes for a show that has the early punters maintaining interest. The band have included texture in their songs and this quest for originality will no doubt balance with consistency as they mature as a band. The ability of every band member is formidable and their songwriting talent has potential.
With time and commitment, I’m confident Beef Monk will mature into a band that can make the step to the next level.
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Their setlist was -
When a band literally turns heads when they enter a room, you know they have an instant appeal that will attract new fans. Midnite City are one such band and with the heat in the city tonight, there is a significant chance that the hair spray in use may spontaneously combust. My hair related jealousies aside, this band are gaining positive reports from the gig going community and there is a strong sense of excitement in the room.
Rob Wylde (vocals), Pete Newdeck (drums & backing vocals), Miles Meakin (lead guitar), Shawn Charvette (keyboards & backing vocals) and Josh 'Tabbie' Williams (bass & backing vocals) have only recently formed but their product reeks of experience. Playing an undeniably eighties hair metal style, they are already one album in and as they take to the stage there is an instant air of grandiose theatre. This isn’t going to be a gig - this is going to be a show.
Opening salvo ‘We Belong’ is a wonderfully upbeat track as are the rest of those played in this one song set. Wylde is the consummate front man leaning over the front row, blonde hair blowing in his personal fan, pointing out the members of the crowd singing along. His acknowledgement of a Tigertailz t-shirt is a special moment for the knowledgeable fan who was aware of Wylde’s pedigree.
Big crowd pleasing riffs and a rhythm section forged in the foundry of the sunset strip make for an energetic performance and the notable vocal harmonies are spot on. ‘Ghosts Of My Old Friends’ would easily feature in a movie montage with its nostalgic feel and catchy chorus and ‘One Step Away’ takes this formula and again delivers an arrow to the centre of the target. The fact that many of the crowd are dancing is proof that this group of musicians can write radio friendly hits and the addition of Meakin’s effortless soloing adds a heavier element in all the right places.
Closing track ‘Summer Of Our Lives’ is a riff-driven smile in musical form. The harmonies are strong again and it’s easy to imagine playing this track in a convertible driving down the strip. In fact, even Glasgow would feel Californian with such a fantastic track playing through the speakers in your Vauxhall Corsa.
This band will entertain you and there aren’t many headline acts would take the risk of having to follow such a strong outfit so it won’t be long before they are the headline act.
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The main event of the night is the popular Vega who have been quietly mingling with punters in the venue watching the support acts. The band had enjoyed an early arrival in Glasgow and after a relaxed wait for their slot, they have clearly mustered their game-faces as they mingle with their fans both in the venue, and in the street outside.
Since their formation in 2009, the band have been busy with both their live output but also their recorded work. The recent release of their new album ‘Only Human’ has received excellent feedback and anyone who has seen them live before is keen to spread the word on why you should go see them. We managed to snare frontman Nick after soundcheck to ask what the band had been up to. He told us “It’s all been about the lead up to this album really. Recording, getting it mixed. Videos. Promos. Going out on the road is kind of like the pay off for us. This is like our reward for a couple of years hard work”.
That live experience and reputation is instantly warranted as Nick Workman (vocals), Tom Martin (bass), Hutch (drums), James Martin (keyboards), Marcus Thurston (guitar) and MyKey Kew (guitar) hop on stage and launch into ‘Let’s Have Fun Tonight’. This track title is more than just a randomly chosen opener - rather it sets the tone for the night as what lies ahead is as enjoyable a show as I’ve seen in months.
The set consists of tracks from across the band’s album catalogue and it’s warming to hear so many from the new release as its quality is superior. The Glasgow crowd are treated to a track not played on the tour thus far with the ballad ‘Come Back Again’. Workman’s showman duties are masterful in introducing this song as he persuades the crowd to hold their phone torches aloft. The room looks spectacular as the single lights join together in a sea of unity where the crowd join in playing their part in the light show.
The newer tracks have a positive feel to them and Workman explained why, “It’s a fairly retrospective album lyrically but it’s very much looking on the positives. I’m very much the kind of person that won’t dwell on what’s shit. A lot of people say you get your one chance and that’s it. I don’t believe in that. Harrison Ford didn’t have his break through until he was 35! I don’t believe you only get one shot. You get as many shots as you like if you try to get those shots. That’s the attitude of the album”.
The audience are a diverse bunch with tour t-shirts mingling with those dressed for a night on the tiles. The band obviously have a broad reach given the accessibility of their music but it is also clear that many are gathered in support of new drummer and local lad Hutch behind the kit. His Saltire flag draped across his kick drum is admired by the crowd and mild ribbing from the band is met with good humoured booing that has Workman admitting he won’t be doing that again.
The size of the venue is perfect for tonight’s gig but there’s a feeling that Vega should be stepping up to another level. Workman agrees and is genuinely pleased to be playing an intimate gig adding “Those people saying it’s great playing a gig when you can see the whites of their eyes. We’d love to play an arena. We’re very realistic guys but we have aspirations and not ones we get hung up on either.”
The band really do carry a significant talent across every member. Whether the guitar work of Kew and Thurston, the solidity of Martin and Hutch’s rhythm section or Martin’s sublime keys, there is quality in every verse and chorus. Kew adds an extra facet in his backing vocals - often taking the lead as Workman works the stage. This is especially true in the early song ‘Kiss of Life’ where each band member is afforded space to shine. The twin guitar part is wonderfully choreographed as Kew and Thurston stand hip to hip front and centre - a great moment.
The final song of the night is delivered without the stereotypical encore with the fitting ‘Last Man Standing’. This track from the new album is a heavier prospect with slick keyboard work and a great build to the chorus that has all comers singing along. The sheer joy on the faces of the band are infectious and as Workman had said in our earlier conversation “Our first box that has to be ticked in this band is are we enjoying this? Before anything. Because if we’re enjoying it, the rest is easy.”
As the show ends and the band spend time with those who have waited back, it’s nice to know that the band have firm plans for the future. Workman is focused and explained what lies ahead -
“We’ve got some European shows in Germany and Spain at the end of the year. We do our Vega Christmas show in December. Next year there’s a load of stage going on but we can’t announce it yet. That’s being announced (we think) at the end of August. We’re doing a tour with someone else. We’ve got Hard Rock Hell already booked. Hopefully at the end of next year we’ll be doing a whole load of shows in bigger venues if things go to plan.”
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