Live Review: There Will Be Fireworks

SWG3 – 22/11

It’s Glasgow’s first sub-zero day of winter but the bitterly cold walk down the bank of the Clyde to SWG3 feels somehow appropriate, given what a wintry band There Will Be Fireworks are. Their songs seem to come alive at this time of year; you can almost see Nicky McManus’s breath float in the air throughout the band’s second record, which they are here to launch tonight.

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The whole evening is bespoke; the venue is chosen as much for its proximity to Glasgow’s main river, featured on the cover of The Dark, Dark Bright and a key inspiration behind it, as it is a reflection of the band’s slowly increasing stature. The support acts, Kevin Harper and Friends In America, are introduced by members of Fireworks themselves, who are clearly big fans.

Kevin Harper plays booming and uplifting indie-pop on his semi-acoustic guitar, backed with essentially a full band on his laptop. Just as the growing crowd is really connecting with him, Harper announces this is going to be his last gig. He’s 35 and too old for this shit, he says, as he pours his heart into his final few songs.

Friends In America, on the other hand, look like they could be here for a long time yet. They perform their energetic set with an incredible tightness. The guitarwork is reminiscent of early Foals, but the choruses are much bigger. A half hour set is over all too quickly.

There Will Be Fireworks’ set is dominated by new material, naturally, but given the three-year period in which the album has been recorded, enough music has seeped into the public domain that the crowd don’t feel lost. There is a rotating stage cast of violinists and Friends In America members helping out on various songs, all adding to the sense of occasion. With the stage full for the joyous ‘Youngblood’, the band are utterly triumphant. A couple of cuts from the first album are well received, but the highlight comes at the very end, as real-life fireworks (well, sparklers) are passed around the crowd and the room lights up to the sound of ‘Elder and Oak’, building from delicate piano to a wall of noise.

Before leaving, the band thank us for coming along and not forgetting them — we’d be doing well to manage that. There were fireworks indeed.

[Ally Shaw]

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