Despite the fact that they’ve not been based in the city for well over fifteen years now, Aberdeen still likes to think of The XCERTS as their own. As a near capacity Lemon Tree jostles for positions close to the front, the scene seems set for a triumphant homecoming, and mere seconds into new single GIMME it appears the pop-punk three piece are keen to deliver.
Having returned with their fifth – pop heavy – album Learning How to Live and Let Go earlier this year the band brim with a newfound confidence. Whether it’s as a result of time on the road with the likes of Busted, or just the carefree abandon of getting older very little feels off limits. Samples and backing tracks are used to their full effect to allow frontman Murray Macleod to prowl the stage, engaging the crowd in singalongs at every opportunity and flaunting his best stage moves.
It is a seriously slick show from a band who have paid their dues many times over. But even when they scale back the high production values they know how to connect. Whether it be the punk stompers of their back catalogue where the three members still thrash through songs as if someone is about to pull the plug, or the heartfelt moments when Macleod straps on an acoustic guitar – made all the more poignant by the shout out to his parents in the audience.
There are few bands who could – or would even dare to try – to close out a set at the Lemon Tree with an acapella refrain from one of their hits complete with crowd participation. But it speaks to the place that the band hold in the hearts of their Aberdeen fans, and the clearly reciprocated love, that they were able to do just that. This was an intimate homecoming of epic proportions, and one fans will hope is repeated again soon.