by Robert Neil
The Garage, Glasgow
Saturday 15th April 2023
There was a notable, friendly atmosphere when I arrived at The Garage – an iconic Glasgow music venue – to see The Shambolics, who are building up quite a reputation as one of the most energic and entertaining live bands in the UK today.
Hailing originally from Kirkaldy in Fife, the Glasgow-based five-piece were promoting their debut EP, U Serious Boi. As an added bonus, they had pressed a limited number of yellow vinyl copies (just 50 in existence), available only at their Glasgow gig.
East Kilbride band, New Town, and Glasgow based, The Rooks, did a great job of kick-starting the evening as the two support bands. They certainly managed to get the crowd on side with their short but joyous sets.
With barely any time for the packed audience to catch its breath, ‘Freed From Desire’ by Gala boomed over the sound system as the band made its way to the stage from various parts of the audience. This, it turns out, was The Shambolics making possibly the least rock star entrance I have ever witnessed. It was clear from the off that they don’t put up any barriers between themselves and their fans.
The chanting of “The Shams Are On Fire” became louder and louder, building the euphoria before any note of fan favourite, ‘Sharp As A Razor’ was played. The crowd was soon bouncing, particularly when a small camcorder was used to help with the band’s search for the wildest fan!
As they alternated lead vocalists and musical genres, it was clear that these lads had the right mix of charm and swagger to please both their loyal following and their new admirers.
As a music fan of a certain age, my mind was working overtime, making a mental note of all the influences I could pick out: rock, blues, 80’s pop, 60’s garage and psychedelia…. The Smiths, The La’s, The Sonics, The Doors, The Birds and many Brit Pop acts. But there was also something very refreshing and original about the band’s approach, and it was reaffirming to hear a band that was not afraid to tackle any musical genre head on.
What was obvious by the reaction to the first few songs, was that this band was adored. I did wonder how long the audience could keep going at that tempo, as they bounced up and down, singing along in a blissful state. Then the swirling keyboards took things to a whole new level, with a cover of Alice Deejay’s ‘Better Off Alone’. The song was released in 1999 – before many audience members even existed!
The Shambolics’ agenda was clear: to entertain and enjoy doing so with their melodious songs and tight harmonies.
Debut single, ‘Chasing A Disaster’, had almost everyone inside joining along in a celebratory fashion that would give the Hampden roar a run for its money!
The Shambolics did not put a foot wrong all evening and finished an electrifying short set with an anthemic rabble-rousing version of ‘When She Goes Home’.
I looked around to see a mass of smiling faces with fans, friends and family of the band all in a jubilant mood. Tori, a personal friend of the band I got talking to, told me that in the early days of the band, she and her pals would be down the front to start up the mosh pit. Nowadays, apparently, it’s much too busy. Based on this Glasgow performance, future gigs will be even busier.
Here’s hoping The Shambolics, like Kirkcaldy’s most famous son, Jocky Wilson, will take flight and become world beaters too.