The Magic Numbers, Glasgow Barrowlands, 4th December
First of all let me mention the two support acts, because both were unusually good. First up were a band called Horsebox, who sounded a little like Blur back in the old days. They're a five-piece who add to the normal vcl/gtr, gtr, bs and drms the more wacky Casio/glockenspiel/vcls. they were all good, but special praise goes to the rhythm section (Andrew on bass, Martin on drums) who were outstanding. No muss, no fuss, just spot-on.
They were followed by David Kitt, an Irishman who sounded like a hybrid of Bert Jansch and Bruce Springsteen. His band were quietly competent, but it was his final solo number with just his own acoustic guitar that swung me over to him: definitely channeling Jansch in style (though not quite at the same level of guitar virtuosity). Michele Stodart from the Magic Numbers joined them on backing vocals for one number, and David later returned the favour by joining the Numbers on vocals and keyboard for one of their encores.
OK, so to The Magic Numbers. I hadn't heard their new album, and had little idea of what they were like live. At the time of their first album they were being compared to The Mamas and The Papas (not that bad a call) so when David Kitt described the previous night's gig as having "f*cking rocked Barrowlands" I was a tad sceptical: TMATP were a great band, but rocking out wasn't their forte. That'll teach me. The Magic Numbers, ladies and gentlemen, did indeed F*cking Rock Barrowlands, and probably half of Glasgow's East End.
Running through the dramatis personae, we have Romeo Stodart, big, bearded, writing most of the material, singing lead on most numbers, and playing guitar far far better than I had expected. Clearly much less studio magic had been employed in the first album than I'd imagined. OK, the guy isn't Richard Thompson, but he could give Simon Nicol a run for his money. Really. On bass we have his sister Michele, she of the very long hair, the infectious grin and the undampable energy. I can't remember when I last saw such a physical bass guitarist: if the Air Guitar championship people ever introduce a bass guitar section, they should get loads of Michele Stodart imitators. She also sings, and you can see where the TMATP comparisons come from as if you squint she could almost be Cass Elliott, with wavier hair. Then on keyboards, percussion and melodica we have Angela Gannon, like a dark-haired Candida Doyle, though she smiles a bit more (and her hair became more and more bedraggled as the night wore on). Finally, the evening's contender for the Charlie Watts invisible drummer prize, Sean Gannon, Angela's big brother, always reliable, never obtrusive (no drum solos here).
So- from my limited prior knowledge of their material, in no special order, and with help from Google, here is a partial Magic Numbers set list:
Running Up That Hill (yes, the Kate Bush one)
Love Me Like You
I See You, You See Me
Wheels On Fire
This Is A Song
Take A Chance
No doubt a true aficionado could have identified several more. Still, this greenhorn came away with two conclusions. One, that The Magic Numbers will never be one of those bands who are content to turn up and dial in a performance. They Perform. They Put On A Show. That Is What They Do. Two, that while the live versions of their songs are prefectly recognisable from the recorded ones, that's incidental to the live experience. They don't set out to copy their records; they simply rock. (Sorry: f*cking rock.) And the world rocks with them.