Live Review: Dutch Uncles

DUTCH UNCLES – Nice N Sleazy’s – 26/9

Something strange has happened to Dutch Uncles – in particular, to the ball of convulsing energy that is frontman Duncan Wallis.  It might be down to their being booked as the headline band of the Glasgow date of Doc Martens’ Stand For Something tour (a sort of indie showcase featuring headliners like The Wytches, Twin Atlantic and Palma Violets); it might be the characteristically appreciative Glasgow crowd; it might be the brand new patent leather “booties” on Wallis’ feet that he perhaps feels obliged to proudly point out after every second song.  Whatever the reason, the hint of sheepishness that usually permeates the Manchester 5-piece’s stage presence is gone, replaced with the final drops of confidence needed to make Dutch Uncles a real live act to be reckoned with, and one of the most enjoyable bands to watch and dance to in the country today.

Half the band started the evening just down the road in a certain footwear brand’s store, playing an acoustic set of B-sides and rarities, ending with a gentler version of the manic ‘Dressage’, a song that Wallis struggles to play on piano and has to restart a few times, much to his embarrassed amusement.  The gentle xylophone, piano and guitar trio couldn’t be in starker contrast to the ferocious display of math pop onstage at Nice N Sleazy’s later that evening.  They begin with their latest LP’s opening track ‘Babymaking’, ushering in the melody with their signature e-xylophone before launching into the chiming chorus at rib-shaking volume, Wallis’ strange dancing somehow finding a lot of space on the tiny venue’s stage.  This sets the precedent for the rest of the night, highlights being a triumphant ‘Cadenza’ and two songs, ‘Face In’ and ‘Steadycam’, from their more guitar-based and angular debut album.

Even in the face of technical problems early in the set that often prevent the guitar from coming in until halfway through some songs, the 60 or so people squashed into the sub-city-centre basement enthusiastically lap up each and every one, single or not, and good-naturedly (in a way that only Glaswegians audiences can pull off) throw Wallis’ apologies back in his face.  He reminisces of the last time the band played Sleazy’s some 4 years ago, with “horizontal rain” outside and, as he puts it quite bluntly, a “bad gig” inside.  Tonight it’s spitting rain outside as they end on an unlikely cover of ‘Kiss from a Rose’, spreading bemused grins throughout the venue.  It’s almost a travesty that Dutch Uncles, four albums into their career, aren’t headlining bigger venues than this, but you won’t find anyone who was in Sleazy’s tonight complaining.       

[Ciaran McQueen – @_delareine]

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