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District 55 Live @ Ivory Blacks – 1st November 2014

District 55 will always represent something of a personal milestone for me. They were the first band that I ever wrote about for someone else; the first time someone was brave enough to attach their name to my words. The website site in question has since closed down…

Moving swiftly on; having written a little bit about it I knew that the band had at least one decent tune in their locker and I had heard that they are pretty handy on a live stage as well. But for me reputations don’t count for a great deal, I want to see what you can do with my own eyes. I arrive at the show with an open mind, and then it’s your job as a band to impress me and get me interested in you. So I doth my cap to the District 55 boys as they did just that.

I have mentioned it in the other reviews from this show in Glasgow but there is something beautifully old school about a smoke machine, watching frontman Scott Brown become enveloped by a strange mist on stage as the first note of Armless floated from the stage. The song’s main riff seemed to have a slight tinge of Sweet Home Alabama about it (This could have been my lack of sleep) and it got things off to a very promising start.

Time To Believe came complete with a funk style intro before effortlessly sliding into a top quality indie tune. Looking back this was probably one of my favourite songs of the entire night.

In other news what is it about bands having a ballad-style song called The Road? The track itself is not too dissimilar from something that you might hear from the Rainband, and as some of you will know in my eyes that is no bad thing. The only downside is that despite urgings from those on stage the audience didn’t feel much like dancing so those requests fell a tad flat.

Next up was Delayed, a real slow burner of a tune which slowly but surely morphs itself into another indie anthem. I have to say that these guys seem to have a real knack for that, the music seems to be absolutely tailor made for the live stage and the up-tempo goodness of tracks like this only serve to reinforce that feeling. Underneath Your Skin is simply put, another banger. Vocal duties were split between Brown and guitarist Rankin which was a nice bit of variation. Brown had also dispensed with the mic stand by this point; he really meant business ladies and gentlemen.

One of the things that really stood out for me on the night was the ridiculous contrast between frontman Brown and the rest of the band. The band in general is pretty static on stage and unless you have an unbelievable stage presence like a Tony Iommi standing still just won’t get it done. However, Brown skitters around the stage with all the energy of a toddler after a blue Smarty binge. He has so much energy and presence that it just wouldn’t work if the rest of the band were flying all over the place as well, so although it sounds like it wouldn’t having such a passive band and a borderline manic frontman really works.

The penultimate song of the night was a new brand new one called The Ministry. The band gave no apologies for the fact that they were pretty much winging it (Always a strange admission I think) but they had built up some goodwill with the audience so everyone went with it, and much to the bands surprise the song was warmly received. Quicker verses and a slower hook put a spin on convention for what was another nice and tidy track.

The set came to a close with a stirring rendition of Raise The Fire. The song takes a while to really take off and I was a little worried that it might descend into a load of mid tempo nothingness but thankfully things did eventually kick into gear as the band delivered a rousing finale. They did seem to really drag the song out for all it was worth but it was the last of their set so you can forgive them this little self-indulgence.

I reviewed three bands in Glasgow last month and every single one of them put on a really good performance. (Normally when you do that many bands in one go one of them is a bit crap) District 55’s music just seems ready made for the live stage and the childlike energy of frontman Scott Brown really brings the whole thing to life. There are a lot of quality bands on the Glasgow circuit right now but you would be hard pushed to find many better than these four gentlemen, I promise you that.

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