Radio Wars? What is it good for? Quite a lot actually.
The frenetic drum beat that closed the Howling Bells set at Connect festival in August ushered in the set at the Classic Grand proving that a good song can work anywhere in the set and ‘Radio Wars’, like the album that bears the same name, could push the band to a wider audience. The former cinema was the perfect venue for the lush sounds and dark nature of the Aussie but now relocated to London outfit and last weeks release of their second album should give them a further life in the eyes of the record buying public.
There is a definite dark and psychedelic edge to Howling Bells and the new material takes the band further down the route. ‘Nightingale’ is almost dream-like with its haunting backing track and lilting melody, although it is slower than most of the material. The crowd were more appreciate as opposed to raising the roof but the band seem more like the measures sort of cool act as opposed to a brash rock n roll type band.
‘Low Happening’ from the bands debut probably remains their best known song which was warmly received but its lofty position could be usurped by a few candidates from the new record. ‘Cities Burning Down’ was extremely impressive with its jangly guitar acting as the perfect backdrop for Juanita Stein’s alluring yet deadly vocals. A mini encore kept the fans wanting a little bit more at the end but that’s not a bad position to leave people in and as the doors opened and the crowd spilled out into a wet Glasgow evening, its hard to find much to criticise about the night, although a bit more excitement could have moved the gig from good to great.
The mixture of sweetness and danger helps the songs stand out from many of their indie-rock peers and 2009 looks like being a big year for the band. If they can capture the same sort of vigour and energy during the festival season as Howling Bells displayed at the Classic Grand, there would be few people betting against the act becoming a household name by the end of the summer.