This was the Glasgow leg of Make Sparks’ tour in support of their new single, Heart’s On Fire, and their first show in the city for a year. A stellar supporting cast was assembled, and that, coupled with the fact it had been a while since I’d been to a gig, meant I was highly anticipating this one.
The sound of So Many Animal Calls firing into InVivo sent me on my way down the stairs for my first sighting of the band as a four piece. The new dynamic just seems right, with the dual guitars building a much bigger sound than previous, and all the intricacies becoming more prominent.
The set was made up mainly of tracks from the impressive Eulogy EP, with Oh Dear giving frontman Sean McKenna the chance to really open his lungs, and Broken Antlers sounding great despite a broken string. The band is clearly not phased by anything, and their confidence and onstage humour matches the attitude conveyed in their writing, and the level of energy in their set.
There has been so much progression with this band in the last year, and a new (as yet un-named) track near the end showed there’s even more to come. This track is due to be a single in the near future, and folk can expect something special from So Many Animal Calls.
Friends In America then took to the stage and were a bit different from what I had been expecting. They have put a few tracks online, but that didn’t prepare me for what was to unfold.
The excellent You’re got an early airing and proved to have an extra level to it live. Indeed the band seem to have so many different levels to hit – going from poignant, touching interludes, to massive moments of post rock grandeur, to jagged indie riffs that make you want to dance – that you didn’t know which angle the tracks were going to be attacked from next.
Frontman Matthew Rawlings was happy to chat to the crowd throughout, at one point telling them how ‘fucked’ he was, taking time to congratulate their previous bass player on his new baby, and generally being very engaging.
Near the end he told the crowd that there were two tracks left and that one was happy, and the other completely depressing. The happy track, called (something along the lines of) Are You OK? takes you through all the motions I mentioned previously, and is a clear sign that Friends In America are going to blow people away.
Make Sparks didn’t waste any time in getting going, blasting straight into their two newest tracks, Heart’s On Fire and Apollo Apollo. The chanted lyrics of ‘You’re heart’s on fire and everybody here is dancing on it’ is such a massive moment, and a brilliantly catchy bit of songwriting that works even better live.
I would worry about most bands having blown their load too soon after that opening, but that wasn’t the case with Make Sparks. Rewind came next and it started to dawn on me just how many fantastic songs the band have. The three-part harmonies add so much to the epic chorus action the Carnoustie outfit deliver, and it was great to hear parts of the crowd singing back at them.
Three new tracks got an airing in the middle of the set, with a particularly rocking number sticking out, and Craig Parker remarking that they’d been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin and The Bee Gee’s.
The Answer was the penultimate track, and it’s perhaps a testament to the band, and the depth of their set list, that I had no idea what the final track would be, but had a list as long as my arm of what I would have liked to hear.
I was pretty stoked at it being Hey Kid, which is a perfect brooding closer. The song managed to build a tension that projected onto the crowd, until everything was let loose with a massive finish. Make Sparks absolutely nailed it, and you won’t see many unsigned bands with the ability to engulf a crowd with a song like that.
It’s great to have Make Sparks back, with great new material, and on such fine form. The crowd really took to life when they hit the stage, and it’s clear that the time off has been spent extremely well. The whole line up shone through, and it had three headline quality bands, which is pretty rare.
Top and middle photos by Fiona McKinlay
Bottom and front page photos by Eaun Robertson Photography