Live Report: The Walkmen – SWG3, Glasgow

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Word must have spread quickly that Almost Nothing – the band providing support for The Walkmen’s UK tour – is the new project of Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble and long time collaborator Andrew Wasylyk. Barely two songs into their set, SWG3 Galvanizers was bustling with fans eager to check out his latest offering. 

Those familiar with Woomble’s most recent solo output may not have been surprised by the modernistic synth pop on display, and as he stood over Wasylyk’s shoulder by the keyboard he epitomized a proud elder brother, celebrating the dance infused creations reverberating around the former factory’s walls. It was a thoroughly refreshing set from an act unwilling to rest on their laurels.

While Almost Nothing may have had one foot in the future, the night was otherwise focussed on revelling in the past. It’s been close to ten years since The Walkmen performed on British soil and with no new music since 2014s ‘Heaven,’ the evening’s entertainment was a giddy celebration of their back catalogue. And what better way to start than with the first song from their first record. 

As the five members of the band formed in Harlem, NY twenty three years ago drummed up the overwhelming cacophony of ‘They’re Winning,’ they rolled back the years at the same time. By the point that Paul Maroon’s guitar tore like a car alarm into ‘Little House Of Savages’ it was hard to believe you were watching a band who have barely played together in a decade.   

The setlist was largely chronological with the band’s biggest hit ‘The Rat’ being discarded into the mix five songs in. But this lit the touch paper and point forward they moved to another level. Matt Barrick drums with a regimented ferocity that is hard to fathom until you see it, while Walter Martin and Peter Matthew Bauer swap back and forth between bass and keys like mad professors. 

Tracks from 2008’s ‘You & Me’ got the best outing with the waltzing ‘Red Moon’ providing a wistfully serene interlude. And while the only inclusion from ‘A Hundred Miles Off’ came in the form of ‘All Harms And The Cook,’ it sounded monstrous despite being sandwiched between the incendiary ‘Angela Surf City’ that found frontman Hamilton Leithauser close to being on all fours to deliver the final lines, and the sheer magnificence of ‘Heaven’. 

That final run of songs was so strong that it could have ended there. But there were still a couple left in the tank. Fittingly, it ended where it all began, with ‘We’ve Been Had,’ the first song the band ever wrote. Leithauser confessed that they were unsure if, after all this time, people would still care about The Walkmen. There can be very little doubt about that now. 

Records can become like friends, and for 90 minutes at SWG3 Glavanizers The Walkmen reminded us just how great it can be catching up with the very best of them. 

Words: Craig Howieson