Declan Welsh and The Decadent West perform an unforgettable homecoming gig.
On Monday the 22nd of November I made my way through to Glasgow to see Declan Welsh and The Decadent West at their sold out SWG3 show. Having recently caught their high energy set at TRNSMT I had tall expectations for the tour, but needless to say they exceeded those expectations and pulled off one of the best gigs of the year. The Glasgow date was one of the final shows of the ‘Its Been a Year’ tour and we could feel the energy of 1300 excited fans as soon as we got to the venue.
The first band we saw take to the stage were Edinburgh hailing fourpiece Swim School. They are a brilliant band I’ve been listening to for a while but this was my first time seeing them perform live. They played an immersive set of tracks jam packed with blistering guitars, rumbling electronics and fuzzy vocals which didn’t disappoint.
Drawing inspiration from bands like Wolf Alice and Pale Waves, they have a really captivating sound. Highlights from the set included sweet indie track ‘Sway’ and the crisp vocal delivery of ‘Too Young To Know’, which really got the crowd going. Their performance was strong and they brought brilliant energy throughout, I really hope to see them live again at some point in the near future!
Declan Welsh and The Decadent West
Then scene was set for the headliners to grace the stage; they opened with the massive ‘No Fun’, a crowd pleaser that got everyone singing along by the start of the first chorus. Next up was ‘Parisian Friends’ which is taken from their latest EP and sounds equally infectious with a singalong chorus and light-hearted verses pondering insecurity, it is simply made to be jumped around to.
The twangy guitars and snarling lyrics of ‘Shiny Toys’ were a highlight, it’s an example of Welsh’s brilliant song writing skill, as is ‘How does your love’, a song about escaping the mundanity of “grey skies and Tesco’s” with witty lyrics about “provincial discotheques”. Welsh’s background as a poet is evident in tracks like these as he seems to have an ear for memorable lyricism. ‘Shame’ is one of my favourite tracks, and it was even more impactful live. Yet another example of Welsh’s standout punk poetry, this nihilistic track contemplates “the unsolvable puzzle of unconsciousness”.
One of the greatest things about this band is their passion for social justice; ‘Do What You Want’ is an anthem about embracing your sexuality built on hazy riffs, and ‘Different Strokes’ is a display of solidarity for the victims of Palestine, possibly the band’s most moving and powerful track to date. I really admire how Welsh’s political awareness is displayed through his song writing, he isn’t afraid to speak out on issues and use his platform to spread awareness which is something a lot of bands are lacking. Direct and unapologetic punk sentiments combined with Welsh’s brilliant stage charisma and an outfit of seasoned performers who play smoothly together as a polished outfit make this band a lethal live force.
It was brilliant to finally hear tracks from the ‘It’s Been A Year EP Live’; ‘Another One’ was a swirling, brooding musical journey that was really impactful live. ‘Off At One’ was also a slower moment that builds into the feelgood euphoria of the last verse, and the catchy ‘Vladimir’ was a highlight as Welsh’s vocal delivery shone through.
Two of their strongest tracks are ‘Lull’ and ‘Talking to Myself’. The former is an older fan favourite that had the crowd chanting along every word. ‘Lull’ is a perfect example of a sonically upbeat and euphoric track juxtaposed with dark lyrics, that and its poetic lyricism is why it’s my favourite of their tracks. The latter is off the new EP and is a racing anthem with blistering guitars and powerful raw vocals belting out lyrics about those conversations you have inside your head, an instant classic Declan Welsh track.
As the set drew to a close ‘Absurd’ thrilled the crowd; mosh pits were in full force and drinks were flying as everyone jumped around to the upbeat track. Its punk lyrics offer a clever contrast as Welsh offers an emotionally charged insight into “choosing between rent or food”, a struggle that is a harsh reality for so many people. ‘Never Go Home’ keeps up the energy with an exhilarating sound, soring vocals and lyrics about those nights you never want to end.
Finally, ‘Times’ was a moving end to the night. The song is an ode to love and friendship written about people coming together, Welsh reminds the audience “there’s this, there’s always going to be this”. It was a beautiful end to one of the genuinely most enjoyable gigs of the year, and has really made me appreciate that we have live music back. Massive thanks to Swim School and Declan Welsh and the Decadent West for an amazing night that we won’t forget.