2008 has not been the best of years for live music in Glasgow. There's no shortage of bars sticking someone with an acoustic guitar in a corner and letting them play whilst being ignored. At bigger venues, the situation is little better. Glasgow is replete with shit sound guys - as a result of oversupply from colleges having pushed rates down to the ground - and we'd be hard pushed to think of any venue that has managed to maintain any sort of reasonable standard in that area. Perhaps because of that, venues can't get enough people in to make it all viable with sell outs being rare and resulting in some venues pulling out of live music altogether (like G1's Capitol on Sauchiehall Street, for example).
The situation was so bad this year that we could not actually come up with ten gigs by Glasgow artists that were truly memorable so we had to allow a couple of "east coasters" in. Yes, they are in order and yes, the best live performance was from an "east coaster".
1. Lee Patterson (State Bar, Glasgow - May)
Pure sweat soaked madness is how we described Lee Patterson's appearance in the tiny State Bar basement. Remember this is just one guy we are talking about here. Nothing to hide and everything to play for, he is stellar! (We also like him because he is from Leith and real Edinbuggers hate people from Leith almost as much as they hate soap dodging Glaswegians).
2. A-Lix (13th Note, Glasgow - April)
A duo with a drum machine does not sound like a much in live music terms but then again, not many duos are like A-Lix. Vincent and Lorena performed like they had been plugged directly into the mains. Invigorating!
3. Hercules Mandarin (King Tuts, Glasgow - January)
You've got to love it when Glasgow's infamous "pay to play" arrangements screws things up. No one will remember the headline act as support act Hercules Mandarin converted all before them. A rare occasion when the full band was together but every second was magic.
4. Dave Arcari (anytime, anywhere)
Glasgow's resident bluesman is no stranger to the Bluesbunny and we can't get enough of his maxed out shows. He'll never sell you (or himself) short and when he sets about that beautiful resonator guitar of his, you know that the truth is coming out.
5. Susanna MacDonald (Liquid Ship, Glasgow - September)
A visitor from Edinburgh, she made quite an impression on us. One woman and a guitar doesn't sound like much but she turned out to be a dynamo full of emotions.
6. Punch and the Apostles (Stereo, Glasgow - October)
Quirky and offbeat, this band made an unusual (for Glasgow anyway) effort to promote their then current single by setting up the stage to resemble the artwork. They also played a storming set. We were convinced.
7. Adriana (Brel, Glasgow - May)
There's a phrase that suits Adriana well - understated elegance. She convinces without seeming to a make an obvious effort. That, my friends, is the sign of real talent.
8. Woodenbox and a Fistful of Fivers (Classic Grand, Glasgow - May)
One of best bands in Glasgow, they are also one of the few that know how to put on a show. The highlight of this one was their mariachi band style antics. Not one to forget.
9. Magic Box Mistress (Liquid Ship, Glasgow - March)
One woman and a guitar again but it all depends how you use it. Magic Box Mistress charmed a packed (and extremely sweaty) basement bar with her set. It doesn't take much but you have to know how to do it and so many in Glasgow just don't.
10. Jill Jackson (Barrowlands 2, Glasgow - May)
An easy going set from Jill Jackson showed off her potential. She handles the musical side of things like a pro but proved herself to be highly proficient at making her audience become part of her "family". That's the way to do it!