When I first heard Glassjaw on a Kerrang! cd or tape in either 1998 or 1999 I thought they were crap. I'm fairly sure the song was 'Pretty Lush'. I thought the singer's voice was annoying. I considered going to see Soulfly supported by them at Rock City but ended up sacking it off, but if I had gone I probably wouldn't have made any effort to see Glassjaw.
Then in 2000 I was sat having some beers at a friends house, and during the gaps in conversation I heard some amazing music. I think it was during 'Piano' that I asked 'who's this?', only to be shocked to find out it was in fact Glassjaw.
It's one of very few occasions where a band I've initially hated I've ended up being a fan.
So having missed out 11 years ago due to a snap decision based on one listen I arrived at Manchester Academy with innumerable listens of both albums under my belt. Yes, both albums. That's how many they've managed to release. They have threatened to tour many a time but there's always something stopping them, often Darryl's health. For the first time ever I paid extra for the cancellation insurance on these tickets.
For some people stumbling across this blog, perhaps some background is required. 2 albums in 12 years is slow going, (unless you happen to be Axl Rose in which case it's very fast indeed). They last officially released anything in 2005, an EP collecting together some B-sides from a few years earlier, and the only 'new' material anyone has heard is a track called 'You Think You're John Fucking Lennon' which is all over the torrents. In the meantime singer Darryl Palumbo has been either suffering with his Crohns disease or fronting Head Automatica, who made 1 very good pop-rock album and 1 very poor pop-rock album. He's done a few other side projects too, although these are somewhat more obscure. Various versions of the band have apparently recorded about 20 songs, which may or may not be released this year. Apparently there are record company issues, although it's quite possible there's 'unfinished songs' issues. Check their wiki page out for a bit of background.
Anyway, a gig review, which I've not done since being cast adrift by a certain free magazine that doesn't seem to retain it's volunteer writers for longer than a year... *stops going down a bitterness road*
Missed the first band, second band were a bit crap, Pulled Apart By Horses was their name. They had one good riff, which made up the last two minutes of their set.
Glassjaw eventually wandered onstage. I say eventually, it turns oput they'd done their own soundcheck, but it's been so long since they played and no one was quite sure who was in the band at this stage except the hardcore fans, which I don't qualify for as I only have the two original versions of the two albums and not the relatively obscure tracks. I digress. The band came onstage and.... did nothing for about 2 minutes. They talked amongst themselves, Justin Beck played a chord for a bit. Then they started 'Tip Your Bartender', the opening track from 'Worship and Tribute', and the place went a bit mental. Palumbo's voice was in fine form, his entertaining performance akin to a child having a tantrum, the band were tight as fuck. Even the slightly shitty sound in the Academy didn't seem to matter as the quality shone through. The first half of the set was a mix of new stuff and tracks for 'Worship..', with a couple of b-sides thrown in (El-Mark and Convectuoso, both of which I have since 'acquired) and the aforementioned John Fucking Lennon, the second half with a few more from the first album. The new stuff sounds really good, and eventually it might actually be released, or leaked on to the internet. The hardcore fans (including the man next to me who kept shouting for 'Black Coffee' and doing the softest moshing in the world) seemed to know the words already, probably due to YouTube footage that can be found on their offical website.
The only black mark on the evening was the fact that the band didn't seem to care that there was an audience for most of the gig. About the only things Darryl said to the crowd were some ramble about chavs and frozen margaritas, asking for a beer and introducing songs as either 'This is a hardcore song' or 'This is the best song'. I suppose it's hard to keep to the hardcore philosophy when you're playing a cavernous venue but there were frequent 'awkward' silences where the band stopped and chatted amongst themselves between songs. As a friend who went to a different show said, he seemed like a 'right mardy bastard'.
It's often a testament to the real size of a band's fanbase how many bootleggers are outside. Glassjaw had a whole lot of bootleggers. And their t-shirts were better than the official ones.
But to sum up, as reviewers probably should, it was a good gig, I got to sing along to songs I liked when I was younger at last, and hear some good new stuff, the band could have engaged a bit more but it wasn't a ruiner, and if they come back again I'll definitely see them.