On Thursday night Declan Welsh and The Decadent West kicked off the first of three sell-out nights at Glasgow’s King Tuts.
The evening began with support from the brilliant Pleasure Heads who played a noisy set that warmed up the audience at the intimate venue. They are a much-adored band in the city, and after a couple of tunes it isn’t difficult to see why; their set was packed with fuzzy, fast-paced crowd-pleasers, they certainly take no prisoners! This was admittedly my first time seeing the fourpiece, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Declan Welsh and The Decadent West
Shortly after half 9 Declan Welsh and The Decadent West made their way on stage and greeted the crowd, thanking everyone for coming. Declan explained that tonight we’d be treated to every track from their debut album ‘Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold’ in succession, and these gigs might mark the final time some of them would be played live (unless fans want 8-hour long sets, which judging by everyone’s reaction, they do!).
They wasted no time jumping right into a boisterous indie singalong of ‘No Fun’ followed by the clever wordplay of ‘Absurd’, two of the band’s biggest offerings to date. Before we got a second to catch our breath we were plummeted straight into ‘How Does Your Love’, an escapist tune with a great disco edge to it, a brilliant bassline, and some impressive falsettos.
Welsh commanded the audience from the word go. Truly one of the most dynamic and charismatic frontmen on the Scottish live scene at the moment, he was brimming with confidence and energy the entire night. ‘Turn Me On’ is one of my favourites at the moment and showcased some brilliant guitar work, a truly euphoric breakup tune. ‘New Me And You’ kept with the same lyrical theme and provided a brilliant moment of everyone in the room singing and clapping along to the outro “a million deaths and resurrections to earn the infinite affections”.
Welsh paused again to address the audience, telling us to find someone we love to hold during ‘Be Mine’. The mosh pits actually subsided for 5 minutes and we were treated to a meaningful performance of what I genuinely believe is one of the greatest love songs written in recent years. A bold statement to make but hear me out, it is a track that’s beautiful in its simplicity, layered guitars that build to a powerful climax, and lyrics that are poetic whilst capturing the mundanity of a real relationship. No grand gestures, just the true romance of “breakfast in bed” and “giving you head”. And the opening lyric “I’ll count the colours in your eyes, if I must” is just lovely, isn’t it?
Speaking of memorable opening lyrics, ‘Do What You Want’ came next. Lyrically one of their most important tracks, the message here is about embracing your sexuality set to a groovy bassline with a massive chorus. Before jumping into ‘Different Strokes’ Declan serves us an important reminder; it’s great that we all care about the situation in Ukraine, but we should also care about people with a different skin colour. The track remains one of their best as Declan sings of his experience travelling to Palestine and witnessing the occupation first hand, he asks “what’s it gonna take this time?”.
‘People Let You Down’ offered the slowest moment of the evening. The track starts out with Welsh’s emotive vocals before the music kicks in and the tempo rises. This is a tune that is packed with sorrow but is somehow uplifting, and the title says it all really. Next the brilliant bass riffs of ‘The Dream’ kick in, a sonic frenzy teamed with leftist lyrics that cleverly namedrop scholars, among them Michel Foucault and Angela Davis. A socialist anthem if I’ve ever heard one.
‘Never Go Home’ and ‘Times’ truly make for the most euphoric live moments. The former is an exhilarating ode to afters and the latter is an emotionally charged anthem celebrating love and friendship, both serve as reminders of what’s good in the world.
Just as we thought the night was drawing to a close Welsh reassured the audience “we’re not done yet” and they jumped into an infectious singalong performance of ‘Parisian Friends’, taken off the latest EP. ‘Shiny Toys’ always proves to be a floor-filler and tonight was no different, the twangy guitars and commanding drums keeping everyone moving.
A highlight of the evening was hearing brand new track ‘Impermanency’, most people sang the words back to Declan despite it only being released 3 days prior. Tackling the theme of mortality, this track is about fearing death and appreciating life. Heavy stuff but the ferocious guitars still generated quite a violent mosh-pit.
Similarly, fan-favourite ‘Lull’ was another high point. An old belter of a tune with standout lyrics that will always hold a special place in my heart. The set closed with the blistering ‘Talking To Myself’, a track that races with driving guitars, fast paced drums and a big fuck off chorus to take you home.
Thank you to Declan Welsh and The Decadent West for an evening of tightly wound indie that carries an important message. I’m eternally grateful to have experienced such a stellar performance of one of my all-time favourite albums at one of my all-time favourite venues, a night that won’t be soon forgotten.