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MGMT – Glasgow Barrowlands

Hmmmnn. If ever a band were an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a garish jacket, then it’s MGMT. From arriving earlier this year with the superb single ‘Time To Pretend’ it’s been difficult to make up your mind about them. Half of debut album ‘Oracular Spectacular’ instantly grabs you as being the most exciting stuff you’ve heard in years, while the other half takes ages to reveal itself. On their June tour, they were a perplexing mix of wonderful and wank, superb pop songs interspersed with pointless wig-outs and self-indulgent jamming.

The Barrowlands, it must be said, is not a venue which lends itself to posturing. A last-century ballroom in a very rough part of Glasgow – outside resembles Saigon circa 74 – it has a unique charm, a sprung floor and great acoustics. there is also an overwhelming smell of cooked meat, but we’ll let that pass. The band take to the stage looking a lot more like a proper rock band than the kids playing dress-up we saw in June. Hell, the guitarist looks like he wants to be in Slayer.

They’ve a lot to be confident about; the album has shifted units, and for those who prize such things, Andrew Van Wyngarden has made it into the Top 5 of the NME’s Cool List. (He has also made one of our regular contributors 5 ‘Celebrities Allowed to Sleep With’ Laminated list, an honour in itself.)

But being MGMT, they can’t do the easy thing. We’re started by a couple of perfectly decent, perfectly executed album tracks which are fine. Again, a bit of a tendency to jam with no real intent comes through, but by the time ‘Weekend Wars’ starts, with it’s keyboard refrain which is eerily reminiscent of Granddaddy, they have stepped up a gear.

‘Time To Pretend’ is simply brilliant, bulked out and shaking the whole venue. ‘Electric Feel’ is a terrific pop song, like David Byrne writing the soundtrack for a film about Studio 54. There are a few new tracks which sound in the embryonic stage before a superb rendition of ‘The Handshake’.

The band go off, then deliver a rousing performance of new single ‘Kids’. However, those of us who have checked the schedule coming in know that they have 15 minutes worth of time left, no songs left to play and we’ve seen this before; yes, it’s the interminable 15 minute keyboard based jam! Seriously, why do bands to this? It’s self-indulgent piffle and if anything, actually takes away from the momentum they’ve built up in the last 75 minutes. If you want to pleasure yourselves lads, so it in private, eh?

So a very difficult band to make head or tail of. When they are good, they are very, very good and when they are bad they are horrid. Luckily they are more the former than the latter tonight.

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2 Responses

  1. thanks for the review! it was fun reading

  2. Thanks Ronnie, much appreciated!

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