Spector kicked off their 9-date UK tour in style at Caves in Edinburgh. A quick turnaround from a stripped back set at Assai Records earlier in the day saw the indie rock quartet present new tracks from their recently released fourth album, Here Come the Early Nights, as well as revisit some fan favourites.
Before the headliners took the stage we were treated to two support acts. First up is Mama Oh No – a space age, 50’s, R&B and soul band from Norfolk. Second up are Brogeal – the local lads from Falkirk making their status known as a must-see for anyone in the live music scene. Their folk-punk sound, attitude and style are equally impressive as each other.
2023 has been a big year for Aidan Callaghan, Daniel Harkins, Euan Mundie, Luke Mortimer and Sam MacMillan. Brogeal released their debut EP, headlined the iconic King Tuts and have established themselves in a Glasgow residency. That frequent stage time is playing dividends for the band.
Their music is a fusion of Irish folk-punk and Scottish indie-trad, underpinned with storytelling lyrics. These lads are Scottish. Very Scottish. If you threw accordions at Renton, Sick Boy and co you’d end up with Brogeal. The self-assurance on display from the band is evident from their in-your-face engagement with the crowd, dragging them into the experience. I’m sure many of Spector’s fans won’t have heard of Brogeal, but they certainly won’t be forgetting them. The presence of accordions, banjos, and musical patterns we associate with trad music has an incredible ability to stir something within us. Brogeal are tapping into that with their own unique edge.
A rendition of Rasputin by Boney M has the crowd in party mode before Spector take the stage and thrust into Celestine from 2021’s debut Enjoy it While It Lasts. It’s a strong and upbeat start to the set that instantly buys the crowd in. As Funny Way Of Showing It ends, we’re treated to the first full-band performance of tracks from the new release. Starting with title track Driving Home For Halloween and then into Another Life. Although both are new releases, a faction of the committed fanbase are rightfully singing and bopping along to the choruses.
Fred and co take us on a journey from 2012 through to the current date with a plethora of tracks. Half Life is a new order-like synth-driven anthem which Fred uses to lead the crowd in a sing along and up the engagement. Throughout the gig he disappears into the crowd to bask I the shared moments with fans. Stay High has a Vistas style rhythm guitar throughout.
With new tracks featuring for the first time, a lull in crowd participation is to be expected, but the crowd didn’t shy away from making their approval of new music known. During the set, frontman Fred MacPherson asks how the crowd rates Spector’s new album in comparison to others in their catalogue. The crowd give unanimous 2nd place decision. Personally, I think it might be their best output to date and demonstrated a more mature, textured sound from the band.
During the set there were moments of disjointed crowd work and pauses between tracks. These didn’t feel planned but it didn’t feel like a stall to proceedings. We can simply put these down to this set being the first gig of the tour. What was abundantly clear is that Spector’s fanbase are passionate. Several people having travelled internationally to be here and experience the first performance of new songs with the band. Throughout, there were hands raised and voices shared in participation with Fred.
The set draws to a close with Never Fade Away which is the best received song of the set… only to be topped immediately by Chevy Thunder. The indie anthem put Spector on the map for all the right reasons. They tear through the song with distorted guitar, incredible drums, and energy to match. It’s a raucous way to end any set.
The Scottish crowd demands one more tune. The band oblige. You know how it goes.
Spector come back onstage to perform The Notion from Novembers Driving Home for Halloween. It’s a sentiment-filled number that’s as close to a ballad as we’ll see tonight. The lyrics focus around the complexity of sharing emotion with others, and the complexity of love and burdens. While the songs lyrics err on the side of negativity, they do retain a sense of hope and optimism. That is driven home by the supporting music. The song has a similar emotional impact – at least on me anyway – as Tender by Feeder.
Now, time for a song that encapsulates the apathy of a generation while delivering it in a state of euphoria. All The Sad Young Men remains Spector’s best written and produced song to date. Taking over a year to write, it’s clear that this song means so much to its creators. 80’s synths, catchy lyrics and the vocal performance of the night is a stellar way to round things off. Fred’s delivery is passionate as if he’s pleading to be heard. It’s a special song. The kind to induce goosebumps as you experience it. The audience are treated to an extended version with the pre-chorus and chorus bellowed back and forth until the band wrap things up.
Spector started and ended their first gig of the tour superbly well, but I did feel they lost their way through the middle of the set. Finishing with a final three tracks as strong as Chevy Thunder, The Notion and All the Sad Young Men can quickly make you forget about that. I left feeling I had witnessed something special in those final moments. The sad boy indie rockers tap into the feeling of defiance and optimism in the face of adversity.