The time had finally come…..time to head to Glasgow for the first show of 2019.
“Doors Open” had been brought forward by thirty minutes so instead of the 525 to Glasgow, Boy Child and I boarded the 1638 to Glasgow (definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it) as were joined one station further down the tracks by FB Son.
Our destination for the evening was The Garage.
So who had earned the honour of being my first headline act of 2019?
Swedish metal band Avatar!
There were two support acts advertised for the tour and as we queued outside on a thankfully dry chilly January evening, we debated what genre would be suitable to open for the headliners. (I did also note that The Garage’s iconic truck had been painted since my last visit in December) As we trooped into the building (I’d love to say warmth but it was cold indoors as well as out) we were none the wiser at to what to expect.
Let’s just say our thoughts were WAY off the mark!
First out on stage was Irish singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe. The immediately likeable Irishman who is currently residing in Nashville charmed the growing crowd with a solid if short six song set, which included Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, a song I’ve not heard since my childhood.
From the stunned expressions on the faces of the die hard Avatar fans centre front, I’m hazarding an educated guess that very few of the had ever heard a live folk-singer before! Personally, I really enjoyed Dylan’s set. It was certainly a pleasant surprise but I can’t help but feel he was a tad out of place….
Next out were Irish-Canadians The Mahones. These guys and girl are the polar opposite to Dylan Walshe. Subtle they are not! The Mahones delivered a ten song set of high energy Irish Punk rock (Think The Pogues or The Dropkick Murphys meet The Undertones) I’d love to be able to tell you what these guys played for their fifty minutes but there was an accent barrier here. If my life depended on it, I couldn’t tell you a word of what their front man said all night.
The Mahones delivered one of the most energetic renditions of the traditional Irish folk song The Wild Rover that I’ve ever heard. (Another blast from my childhood long since past) plus a stomping version of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks. Star of the band was undoubtedly their drummer, Guillaume Lauzon. WOW! Easy on the eye and one of the most impressive drummers I’ve ever heard.
By now The Garage was most definitely ready for a trip to Avatar Country.
Oh, where to begin to describe the next ninety minutes?……
As we waited for the headliners to come out, two things struck me about Avatar’s stage set up. First, the drummer was going to have a bit of climb to get up to his drumkit and secondly the wheeled platform for the King’s throne looked a bit precarious!
The house lights dimmed. The radio show-esque PA tape stopped and on stage the circus style AVATAR lit up one letter at a time, proclaiming the arrival of the Swedes and their King.
From behind his scarlet lectern, front man Johannes Eckerstromm, welcome the crowd. He could charm the birds from the trees with that charisma. Avatar opened the show and the tour with two “regal” songs – A Statue To The King and Legend Of The King, Resplendent in his crown and robes, Kungen, have climbed up a little cautiously, held court over his loyal Scottish subjects. Majestic start!
With the throne removed from the stage, Avatar were free to roam from the third song on the set, Paint It Red onwards.
One thing is for sure, there is very little that is subtle about this band!
At some six foot five (approx) front man Johannes was a commanding presence on the relatively small stage. He cuts a dashing figure in his tailed coats and is a natural “clown” with his over exaggerated facial expressions. He plays the semi-tragic, overly dramatic, clown persona to creepy perfection. (I’m sure he’s a really sweet down to earth guy out of make up and off stage) Love him!
I’ll be honest, Avatar are not a band who feature on my playlists. To appreciate their music at its best you need to be able to see them at their theatrical best as well as hear them. I love the quirkiness of it all. Smartly turned out, Avatar deliver light frivalrous melodious intros to lure you into a song then hit you with the song with full Avatar-metal style.
Watching the two guitarists and bass player lined up with Johannes in front of them windmilling in sync is an impressive spectacle to behold!
I do have to say that playing a song called Let It Burn in Glasgow only a few short months after we lost our beloved O2 ABC to fire was a calculated risk and a bit sick but it paid off! The citizens of Avatar Country loved it!
Highlight songs for me personally were Tower, mid-set, then Smells Like A Freakshow towards the end plus The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country.
Avatar are heavy pounding metal heads. We’d already been treated to some pyro early in the set but I expected something special as we were welcomed into Avatar Country. What I didn’t expect was bubbles! Thousands and thousands of them that floated out over the Glasgow fans. Loved it! More bands need to use bubbles!
Hail The Apocalypse brought the night and the constant stream of crowd surfing to an end.
For a first show of the year Avatar hit the mark and were good for my soul.
Already looking forward to my next trip to Avatar Country…really must learn how to windmill…….