Oran Mor, Glasgow, February 16
Darwin Deez, in his khaki dress and headband, looks like a dancing llama. But boy can this strange-haired creature work it, interspersing his band’s jaunty jams with some well-crafted breakdancing. The 25-year-old Brooklyn oddball’s new (second) album, ‘Songs For Imaginative People’, suggests he’s trying to become more serious, but tonight he’s in joyous mood, and has everyone grinning. Skipping onstage with a gleeful hop, he opens with glam-sounding new song ‘You Can’t Be My Girl’. “Saturday night! Saturday night! Who’s in the mood? Who’s in the mood?” he shouts afterwards, before bursting into ‘DNA’. The smooth, suave and sophisticated guitar shimmer of ‘Up In The Clouds’ is three minutes of upbeat joy too, while during ‘Constellations’ he body-pops his way through the song’s riff. If the crowd wasn’t in the mood already, they certainly are now.
It’s just as well because Darwin needs their help to get through ‘Bed Space’, after he suffers a brain-freeze and screws up the lyrics. Nobody minds too much, it’s all a bit of a giggle. Not-so-recent single ‘Free (The Editorial Me)’ and new song ‘No Love’ – the latter described wrongly by Deez as “the best song you’ll hear tonight” – don’t get the same reaction. While it’s unfair to dismiss his new stuff, especially as it hasn’t been out long enough to sink in, they come across a bit flat. The only exception is the incredible wail-out of ‘Redshift’.
In the main, it’s songs from 2010’s self-titled debut that garner the most ecstatic reception. It’s understandable, what with ‘Radar Detector’ being an utterly massive party-starter. The same could be said for ‘Bad Day’, a song that sounds best when hundreds of voices sing along to it. It makes way for ‘(800) Human’, which closes the set on a punk riff. A few more of those, and he won’t need to fill out the weaker parts of his show with dance skits any more.