A sold-out King Tut’s show feels like a long time coming for Neon Waltz; a band who have gradually risen to the forefront of Scotland’s music scene thanks to years of hard work, fearless ambition and a relentless touring schedule. Living up to their industrious reputation, the acclaimed six-piece followed up their long-awaited debut album, released just last August, with an equally sublime four-track EP earlier this year, before heading out on a mammoth UK tour which took them to some of the nation’s most treasured and intimate venues.
Tonight’s sold-out headline show on Glasgow’s most iconic stage feels like a milestone moment for the band; a triumphant sign-off to the ‘Strange Hymns’ era and a significant indication that bigger things could yet be on the way. They bring with them a stellar supporting cast of emerging Scottish talent in Beta Waves and Walt Disco; two acts who have attracted a fair amount of interest themselves in recent months. The former are a duo from Dundee whose intriguing compositions draw influence from the likes of Tame Impala, MGMT and Jagwar Ma, oscillating between blissful ambient tones and vibrant psychedelia. While it’s clear that they may only be in the formative stages of their career, it must be said that their underlying potential is massive; a fact that shines through the most on their upbeat, deliriously infectious closing numbers ‘I Think I’m Melting’ and ‘Let It Out’.
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Walt Disco bring a fervent energy to proceedings; full of glitz and an eighties-indebted charm, they too attract a busy crowd. Showcasing material from their impressive debut EP ‘No Need For A Curtain’, co-frontman and bassist James Potter takes centre stage on the woozy, tongue-in-cheek ‘Dream Girl #2’ with his delectable croon while ‘Your Echoes Fall’ enchants with its jangly guitars and shimmering melodies. With a striking visual aesthetic and the songs to match, their bustling creativity and fun, energetic live show makes us intrigued as to what lies ahead.
The night belongs to Neon Waltz though who deliver a rousing, life-affirming set full of material from ‘Strange Hymns’ and recent EP ‘Bring Me To Light’. As frontman Jordan Shearer stares out to the crowd, album favourite ‘Perfect Frame’ receives a rapturous response as it kicks off the set; building fromits dreamy opening into a swirling cathartic finale full of crashing drums and joyous crescendos.
Throughout their debut album, the six-piece showed an ability to balance the anthemic with the delicate; the subtle flourishes, warm organ lines and heart-swelling arrangements elevating them beyond the tropes of standard indie rock. And much to the pleasure of the receptive crowd, this is all worked masterfully onstage. It quickly becomes clear that Neon Waltz are a slick, well-practiced live outfit; the years of constant touring which have seen them travel thousands of miles all over the UK have certainly paid off.
Jordan Shearer’s angelic vocals soar over a tidal swell of drums and jangly guitars on euphoric anthems like ‘Bring Me To Light’ and ‘Sundial’, before the six-piece leave the room mesmerised with the gentle balladry of ‘I Fall Asleep’ and the deeply evocative yet airily wistful ‘Schoolhouse’; undoubtedly the finest track taken from their aforementioned EP, out earlier this year.
Brimming with confidence throughout, they deliver the kind of sweeping, ambitious soundscapes that suggest their eyes are set firmly on the big stages; the days of gigging in small pubs could well soon be over if they continue in this rich vein of form. You can’t help but think that tonight’s line-up provides all the evidence required to prove that Scotland is a certifiable hotbed of new musical talent.
Before the night ends, Shearer takes time to dedicate ‘Heavy Heartless’ to the late Scott Hutchison. Following the tragic news of the singer’s untimely death earlier that day, the song’s introspective lyrics feel particularly poignant and cathartic in the shadow of such a devastating loss. The unifying power of live music really hits home on a night like this as the band see out the gig with the inspirational call-to-arms that is ‘Dreamers’ – “You should do what you love while you can” sings the crowd in full voice.