TVD Live Shots: Glasvegas at Heaven, 10/12

I can’t believe it’s been a decade since the release of one of the most critically acclaimed debut albums of all time. Glasvegas released their eponymous debut record in September of 2008 and I saw them live the following year as they toured the States. I was working for their record label, Sony Music, at the time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more significant buzz on a band from the UK Stateside since Franz Ferdinand or maybe Editors. The record was celebrated and praised by all the big media outlets in the UK, was nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize award, and topped virtually every best album year-end list. So was it overhyped? Absolutely fucking not.

Then again that could be said with 90% of the UK bands who find success in their home country but fail to get traction Stateside. I can tell you this, it’s not because the label didn’t push them, they did. Several folks at the record label were very passionate about this band and rightfully so. The problem I think was that radio (still a big factor for determining success at the time) had no idea what to do with them. I mean, what station would play a band that sounds like The Clash crossed with Elvis and produced by Phil Spector and the Ronettes? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Glasvegas is an important record because it made a statement in a sea of copycats looking for radio play. It was part throwback, part future-forward, and drenched in emotion. From the opening cut “Flowers and Football Tops” to the very end of “Ice Cream Van,” this record has something for everyone. Of course, the highlights were in the meaty center propped up with the brilliant “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone,” but it felt like a single piece of work at a time when the album was under attack. I would even go as far to say that this was one of the last few true albums, or at least the last of the great debuts.

Hearing these songs live took me back and reminded me how much I loved this band. I bought a copy of the anniversary edition of the vinyl even though I own the original. I had to listen to this thing immediately after the gig. The band sounded better than I remembered them back in 2009 and they still had that sense of mystique to them.

As a photographer, I will tell you it was near impossible to get any good shots of them with the insanely bright backlights and not even one slight flash of hope to light them from the front. Either way, it was a spectacular night to celebrate a band that still matters. I hope it’s enough for them to deliver another record—the jam-packed crowd at Heaven that night, along with the rest of a sold-out tour, deserves one.

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