The BBC6 Music Festival hit Glasgow this weekend, with the city playing host to more than 70 acts spread across five venues – and featuring some unseasonably balmy west-of-Scotland weather to boot. Sleaford Mods get things underway at the Barrowlands on Friday, with Andrew Fearn raising a few sarcastic cheers early on by swigging from a bottle of Buckfast – normally a terrible cliche for touring bands to embrace, but apt enough for this lot, whose brutalist rants about societal decay and working-class rage may as well be sponsored by the old commotion lotion. It’s only 5:25pm, however, so things don’t really get going until the show is no longer being broadcast live. “We had to do four songs without swearing, so that’s that out of the way,” explains Jason Williamson, who goes on to savour every last “Wine twat” and “Pointy little tit” of ‘Total Control Racing’.
From there, it’s on to much-buzzed-about Moshi Moshi signings Girl Ray, who hail from North London, but have some spiritual genealogy with Glasgow itself – at least if their penchant for whimsical, melancholic indie-pop and matching Breton tops are anything to go by. You can expect big things from their forthcoming debut album, due for release later this year, but their set tonight is sadly bedevilled by technical issues – fortunately, frontwoman Poppy Hankin is able to make lemonade from sound-desk lemons by treating us to an impromptu cover of George Michael’s ‘Faith’, which is almost worth the price of admission alone.
Over at the O2 Academy, Sparks debut a handful of tracks from their forthcoming new album ‘Hippopotamus’, of which the title-track – think Sesame Street brought to you by the letters L, S and D – and ‘What The Hell Is It This Time?’ (a song about “God being a little overworked,” as Russell Mael helpfully explains) are the obvious standouts. The biggest cheers, inevitably, come when Ron Mael finally gets up from behind his keyboard and starts dancing like a demented marionette to ‘Number 1 Song in Heaven’ – a sight that headliners Goldfrapp, despite Alison Goldfrapp’s magisterial red cape and PVC boots combo, can’t quite compete with.
“Home team” heroes Honeyblood are our first stop on Saturday, with opening track ‘Justine, Misery Queen’ providing an effective power-pop salve for yesterday’s lingering hangover. The Lemon Twigs, meanwhile, deliver the performance of the weekend thus far at St. Luke’s: if you only caught it on the radio, you won’t have seen Michael D’Addario’s fetching leopard-print catsuit, nor his gravity-defying high-kicks, but you will have heard the roof very nearly come off the place during the soft-prog excess of ‘I Wanna Prove To You’.
Rounding off the day are Car Seat Headrest, whose frontman Will Toledo takes a different tack from the D’Addario brothers – laidback and laconic, hiding behind an overgrown fringe, Toledo’s steadfast lack of charisma is almost charismatic in and of itself. The 24 year-old Seattle native may not deal in spectacle, but his songs – from the droll self-excoriation of ‘Fill in the Blank’ to the pulverising crunch of ‘Destroyed By Hippie Powers’ – are the real attraction anyway, though his cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Ivy’ adds a sprinkle of idiosyncratic stardust.
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Sunday begins with a sermon from Father John Misty – or to be more precise, a brief Q&A hosted by Lauren Laverne (Q: What can we expect from you today? A: “Songs. Feelings. Observations.”) at which he inavertently confirms himself for Glastonbury. The 45-minute set that follows – comprised almost entirely of tracks taken from new album ‘Pure Comedy’ – is a more verbose, self-referential affair; before playing ‘Ballad of the Dying Man’, he even takes a moment to apologise to Mark Radcliffe for his car-crash interview with the 6Music presenter last year, shrugging that, “I’m not always a very cool guy.” The undoubted highlight, however, is ‘Leaving L.A.’, whose 10-verse, 13-minute runtime affords ample opportunity for sardonic ad-libbing – “I ride for Nickelback” and “The comedy won’t stop even for little boys dying in department stores/ Or middle-aged men on promotional tours,” are just two of the standouts. Needless to say, the world is always a more entertaining place when Josh Tillman has a new record to promote.
Finally, it’s hard to overstate what an event Depeche Mode’s headline set at the Barrowlands is – this is apparently the first time they’ve played the famous old venue since 1984, and after 33 years away, the Basildon behemoths don’t disappoint. Opening with ‘Going Backwards’ from latest album ‘Spirit’, frontman Dave Gahan inhabits the role of electro-BDSM Jagger to perfection, twirling around the stage in a sweat-soaked leather vest, his tattooed arms outstretched in a Christ pose. Quite why this 100m-selling band aren’t headlining any of this summer’s major festivals remains a mystery, but Glastonbury’s loss is Glasgow’s gain, even if Gahan and co. teasingly make us wait until the bitter end for ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’.