The unusual fact about the recording schedule of the new A Sunny Day In Glasgow album — namely that no two members of the band were ever in the same room in its duration — added something of an extra level of anticipation to their small headline show at the Bootleg Hifi on Wednesday night. Rather than asking, “How are these songs going to sound live?” I found myself wondering whether the band would sound like they hadn’t been in a room together for a while.
I needn’t have worried too much. In the end, parts of the set did have a certain wobble. Vocals didn’t quite harmonize correctly, there was the odd moment where the timing felt off, and there was an inevitability that the songs sounded a little more raw than their immaculately produced studio versions. The surprise was that it all served to make the set even more charming, as the sextet zipped through the best part of an hour playing with enough gusto and verve to ride over any of the minor mishaps.
The key to the success of A Sunny Day In Glasgow, whose new album Sea When Absent is one of the year’s most pleasant surprises, is that they take certain elements of the dream pop genre (namely the soaring melodies and angelic female vocals) and ground them with a crunchy sound that makes their music as danceable as it is transportive. That was evident from the beginning of their show at Bootleg HiFi as the band overcame some sound issues to deliver a vigorous rendition of the wonderful “In Love With Useless.”
A Sunny Day In Glasgow initially started as a two-piece, from which Ben Daniels remains the only surviving member, but it is to his credit that he has made the most of the additions to the band over the years. Not least of these is lead vocalist Jen Goma, who was a bundle of energy on stage and possesses the pipes to carry some of the stronger melodies. Older material was sprinkled through the set, but the songs from Sea When Absent have confidence coursing through them, and there is something to say for any band that would drop a genuine axe solo into the middle of a slow-burn dreamy number such as “Crushin’.”
I was disappointed by the moderate level of crowd enthusiasm (something I find myself encountering more often than not at the otherwise excellent Bootleg), but that did not affect the energy of the band in any way; if anything they doubled down on their enthusiasm as the set progressed. A Sunny Day In Glasgow makes the kind of music that is easy to fall in love with (I certainly have this year), and I left the Bootleg with a feeling of warmth and satisfaction. Like any important introduction in one’s life, it was lovely to be able to put faces to the name.
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