A hometown show for the Fannies on a beautiful spring evening at SWG3 down in Finnieston. Testament to the enduring resonance of their songs, that night the ticket-collectors and wrist-stampers collected tickets and stamped the wrists of an equal measure of young and old devotees to the Glasgow legends. Warming up the stage were Norwegian folk-pop group Frøkedal and Familien. Their upbeat lilting tunes fostered a serene atmosphere, balancing out the dark brutalist design of the venue. Unfamiliar with their music, the talented group of musicians charmed me with how much they seemed to genuinely relish playing together, and I let myself get immersed by their tranquil vibrations. With them all dressed in matching flowy white shirts, gently serenading a blissfully receptive Glasgow audience, it felt as though I was about to be swept up into some Scandinavian forest cult. Of course, nothing so grim would occur, though hearing them depart the stage to a wave of rapturous applause, I can safely assume that I am not the only new convert to the silky sweet songs of the Norwegian collective.
With the crowd all comfortably warmed up, it was then time for the Bellshill boys to take the stage. Beginning their set with three tracks from their latest effort Endless Arcade, frontman Norman Blake was endearingly candid, admitting to his slip-ups throughout the night with embarrassed smirks. Commendably, they didn’t seem to kid themselves on that the crowd would know all of the new tunes off by heart, indulging us with their biggest hits as well as plenty from their back catalogue. And while it was evident that the crowd wasn’t as well acquainted with some of the Endless Arcade tracks, the album’s lead single “Home” felt especially poignant, and seemed to strike a chord with the crowd as it reverberated around the hometown venue. Over the course of the evening, the band dusted off some deeper cuts penned by guitarist Raymond McGinley: I was delighted to hear them perform “It’s a Bad World” from their Songs of Northern Britain LP. There is something so sweet about seeing a group of old friends gathered together to sing one another’s songs together, each of them giving it their all, egging each other on with their heartfelt harmonies. Dipping in and out of their vast repertoire, members of the Fanclub’s fanclub were also treated to tunes from classic records like Grand Prix and Bandwagonesque mixed in amongst songs from later releases like Howdy! and Man-Made. Their signature three-part harmonies were predominantly helmed by Blake, McGinley, and new recruit Euros Child formerly of the Welsh indie-pop group Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, who proved a worthy replacement for the newly departed Gerard Love.
Finishing off the first portion of their set with fan favourite “The Concept”, fans old and young joined together in a mass wave of synchronised air-drumming and headbanging to the song’s familiar “du-du- dum du-du-dum” drum fill. Playfully frank, Blake admitted that this wasn’t really the end of the show – there was no need for any pleading for one more tune, they undoubtedly had a few more up their sleeves. And they didn’t disappoint, coming back for three more tunes to bring the night to a close. The crowd fell silent when Blake introduced a brand-new never-before-played track, all listening intently to the sweet, John Lennon-tinged “I Left a Light On” (which has since been imparted unto streaming services for our post-gig listening pleasure).
Fin Logie (he/him)