Monday 17 April 2023

Inspiral Carpets - Glasgow SWG3 - 13th April 2023

Inspiral Carpets play their first Scottish date  of 2023 to a packed and adoring audience. Stuart Ralston popped home to join the celebrations.

As soon as we walk in the venue, we notice the lengthy queue at the merch desk - always a good sign - then we notice how packed the SWG3 Galvaniser’s Yard venue is. It’s a huge space to fill and tonight’s sold out gig features fans old and new. We watch Dirty Laces impressive set from the queue and their big sound is ideal for this kind of venue, and lapped up by the crowd. After purchasing some new shirts, we make our way to the front. The crowd are in high spirits, singing and dancing along to the intro music which includes James, Stone Roses and The Seeds before World of Twist’s The Storm, signaling the arrival of Inspiral Carpets. 

There’s no need for introductions - or for a slow build up. From the off, the band are firing on all cylinders. A frantic Joe gets the show underway. Throwing in one of their most celebrated tunes so early is a statement of intent and for the next 80 minutes, there’s a party both on stage and off. Dominated by Clint’s Farfisa, with a commanding bass from son Oscar whilst Kev Clark’s drums beats come thick and fast. Out front, vocalist Ste has a commanding presence, and fellow band founder - guitarist Graham - is quietly having a ball over on the left of the stage.  

Without a pause, it’s straight onto Generations. Again delivered at a frantic pace, the band are incredibly tight. Graham and Clint take turns at playing the lead instrument here and Ste and Clint combine on vocals. The new line up seem to have gelled instantly and it shows. The band are sounding as good - if not better - than ever. A remarkable achievement given that much of the material presented tonight was written 30 years ago. There’s no sense that the band are just going through the motions and they’re loving it just as much as we are.

“Glasgow has always been one of our favourite places” announces Clint before the band launch into a super charged rendition of Weakness which sees both Ste and Clint compete on vocals. Oscar’s bass again shines and is played more as a lead instrument. The first chants of “Boon Army” go up just as the band launch into the lead track from the Trainsurfing EP Butterfly.  Running at just over two minutes, it’s the perfect example of an Inspirals banger. The crowd are loving every minute. Around us, there are groups of fans about the same age as Oscar who are singing along to every tune. They exude a genuine delight when they recognise from the opening notes what song is coming next and they embrace each other in celebration. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the band who present them with their set lists at the end. 

She Comes In The Fall continues the party. Kev is the real star here and he owns it. It has been said repeatedly - and will continue to be said - that he has big shoes to fill but he is filling them and is a real asset to the band. The big songs just keep coming and coming and this is possibly the best set the band have played (although we must clarify that we love hearing the choice cuts like Greek Wedding Song and Changes too!).

This Is How It Feels is augmented by Oscar joining in on vocals and for the first time we hear three members of the band singing. Again, Kev gets the drum beats absolutely spot on and there’s an added bonus of Lee from the road crew joining on tambourine too.

Two Worlds Collide allows us all to draw breath after this enormous, pulsating opening. Let You Down - the newest song in the set and one of the (many) standout tracks on the last album - opens with Graham generating some feedback from his amp before the rhythm section come pounding in. John Cooper Clark’s image plays on screen as his vocals come in. Another set highlight and dominated by Clint’s Farfisa, and almost verging into Prog territory.

Caravan almost sounds like a new song thanks to Oscar’s inventive bass intro before the lightning fast post-punk Find Out Why.  Clint reveals they are playing extra fast tonight as they are getting a curry delivered later!  Move is dedicated to local music legend Stephen Pastel who is in the crowd tonight, with the band making a visit to his record emporium Mono earlier in the day. 

It’s not all big hits and singles though as there’s a fair mix of some of the best b-sides and album tracks getting a look in too. Of those, Sackville is the highlight. It’s Inspiral Carpets at their darkest and most serious yet still treated by the adoring crowd as a celebration.

The late Mark E Smith’s vocals get an incendiary I Want You underway and the fans love it before lesser performed single from the same album, 1994’s Devil Hopping, Uniform takes over. Clint and Ste discuss the possibility of an encore before the set draws to a close with lead single from album three - Revenge of the Goldfish - Dragging Me Down. It’s a great band and audience performance, with Clint’s Farfisa competing with Graham’s guitar and feedback, and a massed singalong and dance along from the crowd, who age from seventeen to seventy. 

The encore begins with Commercial Rain and footage of Craig filling the screen. As Kev comes back on stage, he stands to the side of his kit applauding him. The rest of the band watch the screen too and it’s a poignant moment.  

Commercial Rain is another celebration and the band love it as much as we do. Their cover of 96 Tears from debut EP Planecrash is much welcomed in the set before an epic Saturn 5 takes things on to another level and closes the show. It sees Ste down amongst the crowd connecting with the adoring fan base. 

As fans this tour has been emotional for us and we can’t imagine what it feels like for them being back out there.  It's great to have them back and we look forward to more of the same as the year and beyond progresses.

Inspiral Carpets played Joe, Generations, Weakness, Butterfly, She Comes In The Fall, This Is How It Feels, Two Worlds Collide, Let You Down, Caravan, Find Out Why, Move, Sackville, Directing Traffic, Keep The Circle Around, I Want You, Uniform, Dragging Me Down, Commercial Rain, 96 Tears and Saturn 5.

Inspiral Carpets official website is here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.  

They play  Coventry HMV Empire (April 21), Frome Cheese And Grain (22), Holmfirth Picturedrome (May 25), Hull Welly (26), Warrington Neighbourhood Festival (27), Buckley Tivoli (June 15), Cardiff Tramshed (16), Church End Sign Of The Times Festival (17), Dunfermline PJ Molloys (July 20), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (21), Sunderland Kubix Festival (22), Perth Rosemount Hotel (28/29), Brisbane The Triffid (August 3), Sydney Manning Bar (4), Melbourne Croxton Ballroom (5), Wellington San Fran (8), Auckland Tuning Fork (9), Derby Hairy Dog (24), Norwich Epic Studios (25) and Portsmouth Victorious Festival (26). 

The Complete Singles is out on double vinyl and triple CD.


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