Into Live Music Review: Nicole Atkins & Jim Sclavunos
Venue: Glasgow Broadcast
Date: 31 May 2023
At times on an unusually baking hot evening in Glasgow on Wednesday night, I almost felt the need to pinch myself. In front of me, Nicole Atkins, Jim Sclavunos and three other talented musicians were turning in a show that just seemed to get better and better and better. Atkins, a singer-songwriter from New Jersey with five equally creative and diverse albums to her name and Sclavunos who has played with many of the most seminal (and cool) bands since the late 70s (Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, 8-Eyed Spy, Sonic Youth, The Cramps, Grinderman and of course he’s been part of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for nearly 30 years) brought their music to Glasgow as part of their current U.K. tour.
Now, I often think about venues and the dynamic that lends itself to a show, sometimes good, bad or indifferent. Glasgow has some great rooms and they vary in size from the likes of The Hug & Pint to King Tuts to the Barrowland and the behemoth that is the Hydro. Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street is reasonably compact and I was surprised (pleasantly) to see they have spent some money to move the stage completely round to the opposite side of the room. A positive, yes, though I do think the layout remains difficult and perhaps remains a work in progress.
Anyway, that dynamic I mentioned. I was stood centre-left facing the band, up close to the stage and that’s really where you can begin to appreciate the musicianship, the small vignettes and the jigsaw pieces that come together to put on a great show.
For example, the virtuoso guitar solo during the funk-led Domino was off the scale. My nod to Michael, the guitarist, is shared back, I get it, he gets it and we have an unspoken acknowledgement. Far From Home with its haunting vibe and aching vocal is simply stunning in its execution. At the song’s conclusion Atkins smiles, the crowd are already smiling. We get it, she gets it, we all know this.
My vantage point also allows me to periodically study Sclavunos in action. Whether it’s with standard drum sticks or brushes, his face is a picture of concentration, doing what he does with consummate ease, yet with steely determination. Elsewhere, the bassline on Take Aim drives the track while the jarring keys on the duet Feign duels equally with the guitar and those drums.
The music ranges from siren songs to krautrock to noir-like menacing ballads, plenty going on. The set features quite a few tracks from Atkins 2020 release Italian Ice as well as some from her back catalogue including the set opener Neptune City. We are also treated to some duets between Atkins and Sclavunos from there as yet unreleased duet album. Currently looking for a record label to release it, hopefully that will see the light of day soon as it deserves to be heard.
Highlight? For me it would be the propulsive onslaught of A Man Like Me, a real bluesy, in your face rocker which is delivered with a real fuck you, spicy attitude.
The set ends with a jaw-dropping vocal by Atkins on her track A Little Crazy before Sclavunos emerges from behind the drum kit for a stirring take on new single Strange Weather. A fitting song to finish with, strange weather indeed in Glasgow but in a room in Sauchiehall Street, Atkins, Sclavunos and band sprinkled their magic on what was a truly top gig.
Coming up, Into Creative also spent time in Nicole and Jim’s company after the show so keep an eye out on the website for the upcoming interview.