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Union of Knives – Glasgow, King Tuts

Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09There’s a moment just before a band goes stellar when you can sense that they are ready for take-off. It’s an almost indefinable thing, a feeling in the ether that you are witnessing something special, that a band have really found the sound they have in their heads, that they are doing what they set out to do and doing it well. Tonight’s gig has that sort of feeling.

Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09
Union of Knives debut album, ‘Violence and Birdsong’, was very promising, but almost three years ago. Since then there have been tales of recording in LA with Atticus from Nine Inch Nails, but nothing tangible. The fans, a devoted bunch, are therefore in expectant mood to hear what they have been up to.

Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09

And it’s big. Proper, cinematic big. What the Killers would like to do but are just too clean for. Anthemic, dark rock music with ambition. ‘Evil Has Never’ absolutely fills the place, a soaring, whirling beast of a thing. It’s magnificent.

Of course, rock music from Scotland usually has a shared feature, that melancholic streak which keeps it anchored in realism and stops it from disappearing up it’s own nether  regions. This is exactly the same. There’s a wonderful sadness to Chris Gordon’s voice, coupled with a resolute pride in what they are doing.

Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09

But it’s the confidence they exude which gives the game away. Sure, they suffer the frustrations every gigging band does, but the rub is that they genuinely know they have a collection of songs which can compete with anything you’ll hear out there. ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is  superb, really blasting out around the room. They have a commanding presence when they are up there, surrounded by darkness.
Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09
But all that would, most likely, count for shit if they didn’t have that song, the one which will catapult them into the next level, get them the airplay then let it all follow. And, in ‘We Are All Doing Drugs’, they’ve got it. It’s a massive song, the kind of synth-pop shudder that Alex Chilton might have taken on had he been given access to keyboards. It’s playfully black humour aside, it’s as radio-friendly as anything you’ll be hearing right now. And in a world where the Gaslight Anthem can get playlisted on Radio 1, anything is possible.

Union of Knives - King Tuts 24 June 09

So definitely one to keep an eye on. the album is out later this year. On this form, it’s going to be a good one.

We’ll have an exclusive interview with Union of Knives next week.


One Response

  1. A great review for a very deserving band and I agree it was an awesome gig. As you say Union of Knives are destined for great things!
    I have downloaded their mini album which they gave away free to the first 200 through the door and it is truly excellent..a worthy follow up to Violence & Birdsong

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