The Blood Arm : Glasgow Barfly Wed, May 11
LA soul-pinks give maximum entertainment
Swigging from a bottle of bourbon stolen seconds before, Nathaniel Fregoso stands on the bar of the Glasgow Barfly singing a thrillingly daft ditty entitled ‘I Love All the Girls (And All the Girls Love Me)’ . Before him lies a mass of writhing bodies, and just beyond that, his band The Blood Arm.
Lost in the communal rock’n’soul freakout taking place in his shadow, Nathaniel takes to the air. With his ankles behind his ears, the sharp-shirted shaman is soon swinging from the venue’s lighting rig, hanging above the crowd’s outstretched arms and pounding and scratching at the roof, clawing a hole to look at the stars. Beloved by Franz Ferdinand, LA’s The Blood Arm play rock music infused with irresistible rhythm and pulsating soul. They’re essentially James Brown fronting Talking Heads and singing Fall songs, but they’re more than that too.
“I’m a huge fan of James Brown and a lot of older soul like Sam Cooke and stuff,” Nathaniel confirms later. “And the live performance is influenced by that. When we play we try to make it an event, rather than just a show.” He stops. You can see his fist clenching and the belief in communal fun pouring from his eyes.
“We want people who come to our shows to dance, end of story. This is music, live rock music! It HAS to be exciting! It HAS to be amazing! And obviously we’ve got Ben Lee, our Master Of Ceremonies.”
Ah yes, Ben Lee. The band’s lifelong Cub Scout friend and mascot MC, Ben has spent this evening introducing the band on stage with a rambling story about the severed head of Mary Queen Of Scots, trying to hug NME, and occasionally selling a T-shirt or two. He personifies the collective punk rock persona of The Blood Arm. “The Blood Arm don’t care about making music to listen to,” he tells us. “They care about making music to feel.”
Later, as the band DJ at the aftershow, Ben steals our snapper’s camera and begins to photograph himself with every person in the room, while drummer Zack humps Nick from Franz’s leg, and guitarist Zebastian and piano player Dyan are punching the air to Velvet Underground songs. It’s a scene of unparalleled beauty. Ideas ricochet off walls and friendships are forged before our very eyes. It’s the embodiment of everything rock’n’roll might ever hope to be, a Technicolor celebration of youth, passion and vitality. And Nathaniel? Oh, we can just about make him out through the frosted windows of the Barfly, stood on the roof of his van; dancing, obviously.