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Review: The Great Western Festival 2021

13th November, Various Venues, Glasgow

The Great Western Festival took over a slate of venues in Glasgow’s West End with a diverse and exciting bill.

Yard Act opened a capacity Hug & Pint with a sleazy glam-rock stomp and a set that rattled from Talking Heads to the spiky dissonance of an early Rapture. They introduce ‘Peanuts’ as ‘Elton John’s favourite song’, and change the words to include audience members’ names. They close with a big solo, a magic trick and the chunky drums of late-period Fall.

Terra Kin is a more intimate prospect. Hushed, brushy vocals and nylon string guitar using the acoustics of the Mackintosh Church with a layered loop pedal giving them a choral, sepulchral feel.

The twin drummers of corto.alto shake the floor of the GUU, eight players rattling through some dance infused tunes directed by trombonist Liam Shortall. The crowd urging on some blistering solos and virtuosic piano smashing, the biggest cheers of the night are for spectacularly-shirted drummer Peru Eizagirre and multi-octave skronk from Harry Weir on the tenor sax.

Peru and guitarist James Mackenzie are both part of the Noushy 4Tet – trombonist and vocalist Anoushka Nanguy bringing a spiritual take on a few standards. It is on her own material that they shine – the spacey ‘Party In Warsaw’ descending into free atonal madness, the excellently named ‘Monster Truck Tuck Shop’ turning Mackenzie into a hair metal soloist and ‘Seven Pennies’ getting the crowd up off their seats. 

As Arab Strap are packing out the Maryhill Community Halls, up at the Glue Factory is Murkage Dave, a redemptive and vulnerable set with moments of 2000’s UK Garage, bass-heavy bounce and lighters-in-the air ‘sexy r&b’. The crowd singing in unison to ‘Murkage Dave Changed My Life’ a reminder of the communal, transgressive power of live music.

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