In this series our contributors go back into their vault of writings to breathe life into live reviews and interviews from a time gone by. In this vault, Kevin Graham looks back on some The View Propaganda.
When The View first rammed themselves into my head they found themselves as part of the post Libertine wasteland that was Planet Indie. Pete and Carl had left nothing but wilderness and pretenders.
It was 2006 and everyone was fawning over The Kooks, Hard-Fi, The Ordinary Boys and Johnny Borrell was marching towards chart domination without anyone thinking it might benefit mankind if he were stopped. They were standard Soccer AM clip fodder. It was inescapable.
The View arrived with not a fanfare but a Converse through the door. They were the wee urchins in the local pub selling cheap weed and drinking smuggled in Buckfast. They were interesting, had a youthful innocence, punk rock energy and a complete lack of self awareness which shone through in their songs.
Rightful heirs to The Libertines’ throne in their couldn’t-give-a-fuckness and debauchery.
The press loved them as tales of cocaine busts, bans from the USA and Japan and tales of unbelievable excess saw them become tabloid and music press darlings. Maybe the blandness of the time saw them storm higher than they should have but their image coupled with their music was in perfect harmony.
This whole period was captured in Dryburgh Style. A documentary which contains footage of the band spewing in buckets, hitting themselves with dead fish and talking about tea bagging one of their aunties . There is no pretense to this footage, just a loveable child like quality. They look like they are having fun unlike the too-cool-for-school careerists that I mentioned earlier.
This fun element was captured in their gigs. They played the songs with venom and verve and usually twice as fast as the recorded versions. They made it look like the best job in the world.
Through all of this they have now arrived at the gates of their Greatest Hits release called ‘Seven Year Set List’. It has the tag line delivered by their lead singer: “Over the years there’s been four studio albums, thousands of gigs, too much vodka and loads of memories on this crazy rock ‘n’ roll journey.”
Too promote this milestone they were touring the UK with the Propaganda club night. This saw them do a number of late night shows for the entry price of £5. It arrived in Glasgow on a rainy Friday night and proved to be the hottest ticket in town. Ok, well in Sauchiehall Street anyway.
The venue opened at 11pm and the surrounding pubs were full of gig goers. We arrived at the venue at 11:15 to find the queue already stretching down Sauchiehall Street and up and round Scot Street.
I spoke to one of the stewards who informed me that this was the queue for everyone and that their was 150 tickets for sale on the door. Once they were gone they were gone. I suppose having two queues was beyond the common sense capabilities of the venue. I was also informed that strict ID practices were in place and that everyone under 25 was being checked. I looked around the queue – 90% looked under 25.
An hour and 20 minutes later I was being waved past the ID check and into the venue much to my disgust. After waiting that length of time they could have humored me eh?
Once I had survived the stampede at the bar we were into the main area where the Propaganda DJ was dropping Indie classics (Stone Roses, White Stripes) with two big screens at either side of him showing videos of the songs he was playing. During a particularly well received airing of Supersonic the DJ was punching the air in celebration and milking the adulation of the crowd as if he had wrote the thing.
I made a mental note to learn how to sync a laptop to a big screen and play big anthems. Easy money it seems. Better and quicker than learning to play a guitar, write some songs and get a record deal.
The DJ cleared off soon afterwards and before we knew what had happened on came The View. It was close to 1am. As the band took their positions Kyle was hit full on with a plastic pint tumbler half full of beer. A record for Glasgow. Not even a note or a hello before a lager shower. That set the tone.
AB (We Need Treatment) kicked off the gig. A shouty number driven on by the backing vocals and bouncing bass supplied Kieren Webster who is as energetic as a dog in heat the whole night.
As they tease the start of Wasted Little DJs – the track that started it all in 2006 – the crowd ups the beer throwing. The stage is being littered with plastic pint tumblers. I’m standing at the relative safety of the side. Or so I thought. There is beer coming from the middle of the moshpit, which is pretty much the whole standing area, in our direction. Though the song has lost none of it’s impact since 2006 this version falls a little flat in truth. More to do with a slightly muddy PA and not the bands technique or the crowds enthusiasm.
They tear through Grace and a new song Kill Kyle, which like most songs they do seems to have a completely different direction and purpose live than recorded, it’s hard not for your focus to drift towards Kyle Falconer. A magnetic front man who is looking far better tonight than I have seen him previously. Shorter hair, Fred Perry cool, looks like he has had a good dinner and a sheepish shy demeanor that makes girls swoon but hides the devil in him.
The four main members all look like they should be in different bands. There is no code of uniform. Kyle is moddish in look, Kieren is the lost Libertine in a charity shop t-shirt, Pete Reilly is that hairy busker standing outside every shopping centre who can play Eric Clapton perfectly and shirtless, tattoo’d and a walking advert for protein shakes drummer Steven Morrison dreams of being in a death metal band called Rabid Pigeon.
Steven batters his drums like a man trying to bash to death an irritable wasp during How Long whose pounding drum sound is Kings Of The Wild Frontier on speed as Kyle sings about lost love.
It’s not all 100 miles an hour. The Clock shows the always present touching side to the band. They can craft a decent lighter in the air anthem though, in these times of Nazi like health and safety the crowd don’t light up; they just throw less beer, hug, go to the toilet or tumble from the moshpit looking dazed and confused.
We then have a two song salvo that sums the band up. Everything that is good about The View is in these two songs. Same Jeans is a song so catchy with ingenuousness lyrics that only The Undertones have ever got right before without verging into cringe worthy. We have all had the same jeans on for four days and had a bad trip that made our heads spin around. It’s a good time song captured with bright crayons. The beer shower reaches downpour levels and someone even throws a half of vodka on the person in front of me.
Kyle jumps into the pit and starts singing Superstar Tradesman. The sentiments of this song are the same as Oasis’s Rock and Roll Star. Pure escapism. Striving to be something better than the normal humdrum. The narrative is of not wanting a big house and buying a guitar that never will be played but will sit in your spare room as a constant reminder of what you could be doing. It’s about ignoring advice and following dreams. It’s 3 and an odd minutes of what half the people in this venue think about every Monday morning and it’s received with all the rebellion that it deserves.
Sunday and Happy are the unfortunate numbers which follow those two perfect moments. The lyrics of The View deal with the same subject mater. Drink, drugs, regret, love, lost love, dreams, loneliness and then some attitude about over indulgence as that’s what they are programmed to do. Have fun. The final song Shock Horror captures that essence.
Kyle urges us “not to grow old” as the song bursts into life. It’s a shot of Sunny D to a child with ADHD with a Slade moment as Kyle berates a man who has forgotten how to clap his hands and the song allows a thousand people to clap their hands. It races along to the theme tune of a thousand nights out with Kyle “at the bottom having fun”. The song races to a conclusion with the speed of a parachutist whose chute wont open. The carnage the song pleads for is played out in the moshpit as spittle’s of lager drip down from above.
The band take the applause of the crowd. They wave franticly and bow like Japanese do when meeting royalty. The DJ comes back on telling the rapidly emptying venue that it’s open to 3am. I look over the dancefloor. There is more alcohol on the floor than in most pubs and enough plastic that it looks like a small towns weekly recycling.
As I stepped into the cold night air this seemed like a farewell from the band. Not a final goodbye but a thank you to the fans for the last seven years and a valediction to that chapter of their lives. Glances back will surely be offered in the future but where now for The View?
As I head along Sauchiehall Street two women are sitting on the pavement, dripping in sweat. One is spewing violently into the gutter and the other is retching so hard that I think she is going to bring up her stomach and a few ribs. One of their boyfriends sways oblivious to the scene a few feet away.
I think to myself: I hope The View don’t change that much.