Tom McGuire & The Brassholes gig review by Robert Blair
Robert Blair reviews Tom McGuire & The Brassholes recent gig at The Barrowlands before they visit Paisley in March
For bands that emanate from anywhere in Scotland, playing The Barrowlands isn’t just another show. Rather, it’s a rite of passage. It’s confirmation that Glasgow has welcomed you into the cockles of its heart and anointed you as worthy of taking your place among its star-laden lineage.
In the case of Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, the enormity of this occasion clearly wasn’t lost on them from the very moment that they took the stage. Undoubtedly their biggest headline show to date, the story of Tom and co’s rise to funk-fuelled prominence is one that dispels the cynicism around today’s music industry.
As opposed to having to compromise their art in order to garner interest from today’s tastemaking playlists or make any other form of concession on their joyous, often profound and humorous output, they have stuck to their guns in a way that is not only admirable, but is encouraging to those in their midst.
Although the notion of a band’s DIY ethos is a well-trodden cliche by now, Tom’s self sufficiency and gloriously anachronistic approach to producing exactly the kind of music that resonates with him has paid off in dividends and here, among this hallowed venue, was the payoff.
Bounding onto the stage with an inimitable energy, Tom and co promptly assert themselves with their bombastic aural onslaught and before long, the crowd is all too happy to oblige them with their own energy.
Tearing through choice cuts from their eponymous debut and tracks from their forthcoming sophomore record, Stay Rad, with as much zeal as they had when they first played them live, the passion that Tom and co have for their craft is nothing short of infectious.
By consequence, they are rewarded with an enrapture audience that hangs on their every word and relishes every opportunity for crowd participation.
Tracks such as “Super Solid Soul Vehicle” and “D.R.E.A.D” are augmented by the audience bellowing back their refrains with pints aloft. Although the phrase “a celebration of life” is often associated with memorials, there is no better way to describe what seeing Tom and his resolutely tight band tearing through their set feels like.
Relishing is idiosyncrasies, anomalies, and challenges, Tom’s songwriting speaks to the sheer absurdity of being human in a way that will resonate with anyone that can’t help but peer below the surface of our experiences.
From the wistful “2008” to the affirming ethos at the heart of “24/7”, the outfit convey their message with showmanship and style points to spare. Thus, it feels entirely within the boundaries of their self-devised musical world when a frenzied rendition of their breakout hit, “Ric Flair”, comes with a side of live wrestling onstage.
However, that’s not their only special guest of the night. Complete with backing dancers and singers (including Mill favourite’s local soul songstress kitti), the concluding stages of the show are elevated to a point of sheer euphoria with the addition of a choir.
Flanked by these angelically voiced vocalists, ‘Better’, a track which is an empowering rallying cry to those who are fighting internal battles with their mental health, is elevated to a whole new plateau of emotion and gravitas that led to no shortage of damp eyes.
Fuelled by its realistic but comforting decree of “everything’s going to be alright, at least some of the time”, Tom cements his place in the hearts of everyone in attendance when he takes some time out to issue a heartfelt thank you to the neonatal unit at the Royal for looking after his newborn baby.
Followed by a spot of crowd surfing on pizza slices for himself and keyboardist Moss Taylor, it’s safe to say that everyone who exited out into the brisk Gallowgate air did so with their soul inflated and the spirit of funk putting a considerable pep in their step. If you have a chance to see Tom McGuire & The Brassholes in all their pomp, do not delay.