Barb Wire Dolls @ Stereo, Glasgow
This one was going to be a new experience for me. I have heard the noise around this band and have friends completely split down the middle on whether the band is good or not. I am never one to make a decision on anyone else’s opinion so I decided that rather than take a side I would go check it out myself. I also found it hard to believe the God that was/is Lemmy could make a mistake as he signed this scruffy, rough and raw band from Greece the moment he saw them live.
The evening did not start well, I was suffering from a cold that was not helped along by attending a gig the previous night. To add to that it is a Sunday in Glasgow and those intelligent people in charge of our trains decided to do some work on the lines which meant the dreaded bus replacement service…otherwise known as a pile of steaming poo(or words to those effects). This made my journey two hours and meant I had missed my time slot for an interview with the band. As if this was not bad enough I also missed the set of my good old mates Damaj. My mood was not great at this point and I was wondering why I even bothered.
This gave The Rhubarb a really tough job to win me over but luckily they did. They class themselves as a Doom Metal Band but I thought there was a lot of throwback to their sound, this in part came from the additional vocals from Hannah White. It took their sludgy, heavily bass riffed sound back to the 70s.
It mixed the heaviness with a whispy sensation and gave you a whole new sound. Their songs were very fresh and perfectly suited to Halloween season. My mood was lifted slightly so thank you for that and although this may be the end of Rhubarb season they always come back bigger, better and juicier the next year so I look forward to catching them live again.
With influences like Muse, QOTSA, Radiohead and Nirvana you kind of get a good idea what the band The Tales will be about. Now if I look at those names above not one inspires me with excitement. I may be in a minority but I have a real grudge with grunge (someone please write a song with that title) and the indie movement that spawned from it.
It was always going to be tough for these guys to impress me but they done a pretty good job, definitely enough to peak my interest and keep me from the bar. They have quite a lot going on for a three piece with synth, strings and samples galore.
They are definitely talented young men and very unusually saw drummer Scott McRae talk between songs. They have given me enough to go and check them out some more.
Now for the moment of truth, how were Barb Wire Dolls going to come at me? I was hoping for some old school punk and I was not disappointed. The whole band minus the singer took to the stage and got down to it straight away. Original members Pyn and Krash Doll had opted for the Scottish “Taps Aff”( bare to the waist for anyone outside Scotland) and newbies Remmington and Iriel were sculking in the darkness of stage right. All that was left was the incredible Isis Queen and she blazed her way onto the stage in a flurry of blonde hair, ripped tights, pop socks and dripping attitude.
The band burst into brand new song ”Train Meets Truck” and my first reaction to the band live is WOW. Decades were just stripped away and I was taken back to the late 70s. I may not even have been a teenager at that time but I had picked up on the punk vibe with a vengeance. I would now class myself as a metalhead but Punk was my first love (if you exclude the amazing talents of The Wombles).
I didn’t really have a clue about what all the anger, aggression and hatred was about but it was energising. Like most small towns throughout Britain Punk discos had sprung up everywhere, a two fingered salute to power and authority. I soon learned the hard way what the discontent was all about as Margaret Thatcher decided to rip the very working class fabric of the UK to pieces. This was where the Barb Wire Dolls took me tonight.
Their energy, powerful songs and lyrical content regarding a bemused and fucked up world rang true in the 70s and is even more prevalent today. I was in heaven, this blast from the past was exactly what the doctor ordered and Lemmy, as you sit upon your rock god throne I salute you once more, what a find.
As the band flew through tracks from both albums the crowd were getting rowdier, Isis was right in your face, be it literally or as she trashed the mic stand, rolled on the floor or punched the air. This Greek band came for your very essence tonight and it had to be dripping in sweat.
In amongst the multitude of brutality there was a beacon of light which was “ I Will Sail” I do not know if it was the shuddering clash of styles but this song just blew me away. Listening to Isis voice take an almost angelic turn, mixed with the lyrical content but this track was beautiful.
With that moment gone all too quickly we settled back into the rest of the set and the fleeting moment of calm was quickly forgotten as they took us through the full frontal attack with the likes of “Wild Child Diamonds”, “Devils Full Moon” and “Your Escape”. The pace was relentless and only let up during “Revolution”. Those original thoughts of then and now ran through my head again. The time is right for revolution, Scotland started its own back in 2012 with an Independence journey, one that seems to be kicking off once more. We were ahead of the rest of the UK who is only now starting to sit up and take notice of how another Tory government is determined to destroy Britain.
As I ponder the thoughts and channel the anger Isis takes her leave of the stage, she wanders out into the depths of the hall and drags everyone who is either sitting down or leaning against a wall. She wants everyone in that crowd and she wants them to listen to what she has to say. She meets very little resistance until a young lad decides he is more interested in his phone. Immediately both myself and Isis instantly knew that this revolution has to break another barrier, a barrier that was not there during the 70s.
She dragged the boy into the crowd and stared directly into his eyes, amazingly he still tried to check his phone…I was bemused, he has an amazingly gorgeous woman four inches from his face, giving him a message and he can’t be arsed. I fear we have far more to do to break down this so called communicated world, a world that lives in your pocket, travels everywhere with you and has a multitude of (anti) social medias.
It is so much harder to break through to the younger generation nowadays but hopefully this will be an eye opener to all who were there tonight( I doubt it though and all that will happen is they will tell everyone on facebook…sigh).
This was the end of the set but the crowd were not willing to let the band go. They even had to check with management if they could perform another song and when the green light was given we bowed out on “Make Riot Not War”. This saw Isis climb the PA stack and sing the song atop in all her beauty.
They say you never forget your first time for most things and I can assure you this gig is truly etched in my brain. It was one of the most energetic, enlightening and powerful performances of 2016 and one I will never forget. This band has to been seen live to be believed and I will not be missing another show in the city. Thank you for this and now let’s go shake up society.
Images and review Ritchie Birnie