Chance found me in Glasgow twice this week. I had plans to come to the city for a day trip, to walk around and visit the Kelvingrove art and culture museum, but good vibrations led me to buy a ticket to the Adult Jazz show at the Glasgow venue Broadcast last Thursday night – I was meeting the writer Sam Edwards, who’d clued me in to the group – and I prepared to see two very different sides of the city.
Few people walked the wet pedestrian boulevards of central Glasgow Thursday night. A bit of advice: traffic on the M8 (Edinburgh to Glasgow) is brutal just about every night between 3 and 7. The Megabus and CityLink drivers know this, too, but seem to have no way of combating it; nor do their timetables reflect this. Plan accordingly. Luckily I left Edinburgh at 5 and was in Glasgow by twenty to 8, and, though my Google maps app was fried, I managed to find Sauchiehall. A few solid-looking locals sparked Drum cigarettes on benches, and young consumers passed me, heading elsewhere; Broadcast offered warm respite, and craft beer.
As a Sam put it, Adult Jazz is the sort of band that makes you reevaluate your expectations of contemporary music – and then immediately to wonder if you’ve been obsession over wanky alt-pop. The music is new – newness is the first word, the prerequisite to any attempt to talk about the band’s sound. But push past this and you’ll find a real fluency and a knack for harmony – harmony which comes in some spinning concentrating gyre out of seeming discord. You’ll find a masterful pop sensibility (in lines and handfuls of bars that tease you with their immediate mass-appeal), diverse rhythms, and something elusive, the quality, perhaps, that fires your doubt while moving you to return to the band, to listen to their album Gist Is, in full, again and again. (Maybe after one more go-through you’ll have the right words …)
Before Adult Jazz, though, I was pleasantly surprised by two opening acts.
The first (I only heard mumbled versions of the name, unfortunately) proved agile and energetic. They blazed through pop, reggae, slow-blues, and heavier fare, all tinged with a smart alt sensibility and floating on surprising three-part harmonies. They fit Adult Jazz well: although the guitarist took most of the lead vocals and the bass players lines would have been called “show stealing” in any other context, there was something immediately refreshing about the act. Only after the they left the stage, and Sam and I grabbed a Sam Smith India Pale, did we realize that the group had shown no marks of ego whatsoever – much like the music of Adult Jazz, which, before the show at least, was so complete of itself that we couldn’t imagine it coming from “individuals.”
When my mate and I returned from the bar upstairs with our Innis & Gunn lager tall-boys, the trio G-Bop Orchestra (touring with Adult Jazz this season) had assembled in the center of the floor under a disco-ball. Across the dark room I could see the members of AG and the opening act looking on and grinning.