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Nathan James @ Hard Rock Cafe Glasgow


Nathan James @ Hard Rock Cafe Glasgow

Shock City productions pulled another cracker out of the bag with the voice of Inglorious, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and War of the Worlds brought to Glasgow for an intimate Q & A and an acoustic set.

Before we got to hear one of the most powerful voices in Rock today we got the no small matter of an acoustic set from one of Glasgow’s favourite bands Anchor Lane. This band have been ripping up the festival scene over the summer and jumped at the chance to go unplugged for this one.

I was just as excited to see this set as I was the headliner as I have witnessed these boys many times but never like this. To be fair I was a bit nervous, something like this usually appears a good way along a bands career but this band takes no steps backwards and it paid off.

It may have been strange to see the usually energetic bunch sat rigid on four bar stools but any nerves or discomfort did not show and to be completely honest this was up there with one of their best ever performances. Yes Scot Hanlon was not hiding behind his drums and was perched on a cajun like a giant sitting on a lego brick but as much as he looked slightly awkward at being at the front of the stage he played a blinder giving the whole band the tempo for the night.

The boys opened with “Runaway” and “Eclipse” which kept everything mellow and encapsulated the whole MTV unplugged theme but it was not until “Cog in the Wheel” was played that the audience started to come completely on board. A song the fans have seen many a time and as much as Conor insisted it sounded a bit Mexican the stripped back and bare tune let you see the depth of the songwriting and it put a whole new light on Conor’s vocals…they sounded sublime.

Another fan favourite in “Annie” was up next and yes, we were all singing along. At this stage all those punters who had never heard of the band before were paying attention and quite possibly just found a new band.

Take Some Time” was next and as it is already a slow burner of a song this one shone for me beyond the rest of the set. I love this track and again in this setting it was incredible…especially with the addition of a fade in and out of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

I could have sat and listened to this band play song after song all night but they finished up with the usual set closer in “ Finished for Twelve”. We did get what may be their previously hidden secret of how the riff came about when they rocked up a version of(I cannot believe I am writing this name in one of my reviews…thanks guys) Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”.

This was a refined and very powerful set from the boys, showing exactly what they are capable of and why a lot of people in this town have been hailing them as a band to break out of Glasgow and take on the world.

The first part of Nathan James show tonight was a Q & A with Shock City Co owner and Eden’s Curse bassist Paul Logue. He had to fill in at the last minute as the beard of doom, Tom Russell had to pull out.

Paul was placed perfectly for this having known Nathan for some time. What followed was a funny, heartwarming and powerful insight into the journey this incredibly talented man has been on so far. We found out how he found his voice, his love of rock, his influences, his first performance and how he made it to reality TV(Via what sounded like a very interesting year in a holiday camp). I do not want to reveal too much as I believe Nathan should tour this so you can hear first hand of his exploits. The man came over as a very humble guy and he happily had photos with every single person at the end of this show.

There may have been a few grumbles as people wanted to hear music all night but for me something like this is far more insightful and just builds a far better relationship with an audience. My respect was definitely far higher after this. The one little tidbit I will have to let you in on(which he probably would rather keep quiet) was about Inglorious last visit to Glasgow as support to Steel Panther.

After a day of feeling ill and basically avoiding everyone he took to the stage and with the opening burst of vocals the mans sphincter gave out on him. I was there that night and in the photo pit and I promise I could not smell a thing. The fact that he could open up about such things and even under duress sing a little bit of baby shark tells you the credentials of a man with his feet firmly on the ground(thanks to his Mum) and happy to not just take you on a journey musically but personally. I loved the honesty of this part of the show and could quite happily sit through this alone. I could have went home happy at this point but as much as I enjoyed this it was about to be overshadowed by pure genius.

After a drink break Nathan and Inglorious guitarist Drew Lowe took to bar stools and from that moment I was transfixed. We got a mix of Inglorious songs and a whole host of rock classics. I swear that man needed no microphone as his voice soared as he went through some of his favourite tracks, an incredible rendition of Freddy Mercury a raucous moment of AC/DC but it was when Nathan said he wanted to pay tribute to some of his heroes we had lost recently I was completely blown away. He told us just how much he had loved Prince and as a left field choice he sang the song that propelled Sinead O’Conner with “Nothing Compares to you”. I won’t lie when I say I was holding back tears the performance was so powerful.

I am sure the whole audience was wracking their brain’s to come up with who else Nathan would choose but I was not expecting Chester Bennington and an unbelievable version of Linkin Park’s “Numb”. This was spellbinding and it took me back to the last time I saw Chester play at Download when they played “Hybrid Theory” in full. As much as I loved the band and that album in particular it was every member in the crowd singing every lyric that got me. I stood there singing and thinking how many people has this band touched and Numb in particular, a song so personal and sadly so tragic all those years later.

I did guess correctly the third tribute in Chris Cornell with “Black Hole Sun”, another stunning performance.

Never mind Nathan I left that venue hoarse, I sang my lungs out with songs that I lived with through my teens/ twenties. Nathan blew away a certain Mr Coverdale on “Here I Go Again” . Although this was incredible the one downside…It is Hobo, not drifter…end of.

I honestly cannot sing my praises enough for this show. I was expecting big things but those expectations were left in the dust tonight. I have had a hell of a year for gigs and another unexpected highlight and my top show of all time was when Queen blew away every other show I had seen including Iron Maiden who has been my favourite band since 1980 and Nathan James did not just climb up to the summit of rock gods he sat there smiling and saying I will take it from here guys.

Images and words Ritchie Birnie

Nathan James

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