“Welcome to the future?” jokes Robert Hodgens, aka Bobby Bluebell, as he and the rest of arguably Glasgow’s most unsung indie-pop troubadours are serenaded onstage by Ronald Binge’s evergreen Shipping Forecast theme, Sailing By. What follows in the first of two Sunday sessions presented by the Last Night From Glasgow record label is probably the first ever live matinee gig since the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic closed down venues six months ago.
LNFG has already released what is destined to become a totem of lockdown artistry in their Isolation Sessions compilation, and here show equal determination to make things happen, no matter what. With the grassroots live music industry on the verge of collapse due to an unviable sticking plaster approach to financial support, the only ones getting creative, it seems, are the actual creatives.
With an open-sided gazebo constructed in SWG3’s Galviniser’s yard housing a socially distanced audience sat at wooden tables, a low-key social club vibe prevails throughout the afternoon show. With up to six members of the same household confined to tables, there may not be much scope for life-changing random encounters with strangers, but on a sunny afternoon, the goodwill is palpable from the enthusiasm of the applause that greets all acts. While no-one is pretending circumstances are ideal, a friendly intimacy prevails throughout, and even as the temperature drops slightly towards the end of the day, it still feels like a garden fete for aging hipsters.
This afternoon is opened by singer/songwriter Mark W. Georgsson, whose debut mini LP, Comes a Time, is due for release by LNFG any minute. Proceedings close with recent LNFG signing, Lola in Slacks, who, fronted by a sultry-voiced Louise Reid, produce a set of slow-burning torch songs sired somewhere between the Left Bank and CBGBs.
Sandwiched between the two, The Bluebells perform an acoustic set of pop classics given a new lease of life on the back of the long overdue reissue of their sole album, Sisters, on LNFG’s archival Past Night From Glasgow imprint. Opening with Forever More, be-hatted vocalist Ken McCluskey pre-fixes each song with deadpan reminiscences of their origins, with occasional prompts from Hodgens and his brother David McCluskey.
Cath, I’m Falling and Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool are made even more sublime by John McCusker’s fiddle, while Young at Heart, provokes the nearest thing to a hoe-down an audience unable to budge from their tables can muster. A lovingly delivered Tender Mercy closes a show which fostered a meticulously managed sense of community in what for now at least looks like the shape of gigs to come.
The Herald, October 5th 2020