Live Review: The Sea Kings, Animal Lover at Sleazy’s 2/8/13

1098430_552218024839643_2068660334_nArriving on this tragically hot summer night, wandering down to the under-lit Sleazy’s basement I wonder if this atmospheric beginning is in fact foreshadowing the events later to come.

In anticipation of hearing The Sea Kings’ newly released (previously reviewed as somewhat unexpected and distinct sounding from the usually folky band) debut EP Some Dark Matters it seems like I have arrived slightly premature.

Greeted by the bassist of the band, we are the only ones here, settling in for what could be a quiet and uneventful night, I grab a drink and slink down to the stage.

But before long the room fills with family and friends of the two bands eager to see their loved ones up on that stage, engrossed entirely in their passion.

First on is the support Animal Lover, a band of which I have no previous knowledge of, expecting nothing more than a typical Glaswegian band.

The power trio takes to the stage in such determined and enlivened fashion, throwing banter back and forth between them and the now lively audience, they begin their set with such enthusiasm and ease.

Their uncontrollably fast pace toppled with controlled harmonies create an astonishingly strong sound that overpowers the previously sombre mood.

Now after their first couple of songs the evening has well and truly picked up, all smiles on stage and off as Animal Lover continues their tirade of musical brilliance combining thick, pounding drumbeats with intrinsic guitar waves and a beautifully understated voice.

The joker frontman plays with the crowd, taking friendly heckles in his stride with his cheeky smile he taunts “has anyone even heard of The Sea Kings?” to which the crowd roars with laughter.

Animal Lover 04

The gig has a real cosy family and friend orientated feel – especially the little touches like “this ones for Betty” and the response from the crowd one of intoxicated cheers of “waaaye Betty!” – and soon turns sentimental when our Animal Lover frontman thanks their bassist for his contribution to the band.

Stephen McGrath – a remarkably talented young man – tonight pulling back-shifts as the bassist for Animal Lover and the drummer for The Sea Kings in this intense and fun display of art, is performing his last gig.

McGrath – a founding member of The Sea Kings – looks both proud and embarrassed when confronted with such kind sentiments and love from his fellow band members and audience alike.

Tonight’s gig, one of joy and sadness has been entitled Steph’s Last Stand in honour of McGrath, previewing tracks from their latest album The Sea Kings prepare for making the final gig a proper farewell.

It is described that he is leaving for ‘pastures new’ in his exciting venture to life and opportunities in Canada, and quoted from their website “as long as The Sea Kings exist, Steph will be a member of the band” shows just how tight this group of friends are.

But not only is tonight a special occasion for McGrath’s departure, it is also the first gig driven by The Sea Kings in a very long time.

Previewing work from their upcoming and newly released EP, Some Dark Matters, the normally folky band have smashed their conventions in this undisputedly fresh sounding masterpiece.

A fair few of their songs completely encapsulate their raw lyrical skill and musical brilliance, undoubtedly recognised in their sensationally outstanding EP opener ‘Orphan, Martyr, Saint’.

The Sea Kings 09

With a dash of lyrical whit, painfully beautiful guitar rifts, beastly drumbeats, screeching guitar solos and a killer voice to match it truly is a stroke of genus from this Glaswegian band – the mind boggles.

And as if their musical skills aren’t enough to keep this crowd entertained, lead singer and frontman Brian Canning as if a man possessed throws himself around the stage at every gut-wrenching power solo opportunity, while the others in the quartet remain a collective and contrasting cool.

His rough, Glaswegian harsh tone along with the strength and thickness of his voice proves to create a heart-sinking asset in accompaniment with the raw undertones.

A night that holds sentimental and nostalgic greatness for Animal Lover and The Sea Kings, and in addition to the audience alike, and surely this final farewell could not have been more special than that of honouring McGrath and the bands with the purity and rawness of the music they create together, of which I feel privileged to take part in.

And as the gig draws to its inevitable and tender end, I find myself singing back lyrics from their catchy choruses and reflecting on this night.

A night which converted me for one a lover of Animal Lover and exposed me to the mercy of The Sea Kings, a fantastically refreshing Glaswegian band that somehow create fun and enjoyable songs with undertones of sorrow matters, a fascination with graveyards and morbidness so “show me your dark side, i’ll show you mine”.

more photos

Words/photos: Charlotte Anne McVey

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