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The Phantom Band – Glasgow, King Tut’s

The Phantom Band, somewhat aptly, have been a rather spectral presence in the Glasgow live scene of the last few years. Initially, they seemed completely anti-fame – changing their name for each gig, wearing masks on stage, never playing the same set twice – in what looked like an almost wilful refusal to engage with an audience, or perhaps more honestly, a refusal to allow an audience to connect with them.

Their emergence as a confident, functioning unit over the last year or so culminated in 2009’s first truly great British album, the engagingly strange ‘Checkmate Savage’, an album which didn’t so much refuse to be pigeonholed into a genre as smash the whole concept of genre up entirely.

On their first proper, bona fide headlining tour, they’ve developed significantly since ELM last saw them in December. Perhaps the keyword here is confidence; the ecstatic press reaction to ‘Checkmate Savage’ has been uniform. And never underestimate the power of playing to a partisan crowd. This is, after all, a home town gig, and the band seemed determined to deliver. Live, the album gains a more muscular tone, without losing the slightly eccentric edges which lend it it’s somewhat grandiose oddness.

There are elements of space rock, fusion, eastern, folk and rock going on here, a strange mixture of influences yet sounding wholly organic. From the autobahn-traversing ‘Crocodile’ to the genuinely left-field anthem ‘The Howling’, theirs is a peculiar beauty, which certainly seems to find favour with the sell-out crowd.

Highlight is the really rather beautiful ‘Islands’, one of those melancholic but joyful ballads Scottish bands seem to specialise in. It’s taken the Phantom Band years to find their feet and have the confidence to deliver, but now they are doing it and it seems only the confines of their own imaginations can limit them. On this evidence though, don’t expect that to happen any time soon. A great band moving forward really quickly.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for the great information. I look forward to seeing more articles and what else you have to offer!

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