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Music review



Arches, Glasgow

Jonathan Geddes

Augustines had barely finished one song, and already came a declaration of love from a chap in the crowd, aimed at the group's singer Billy McCarthy. Many more followed as the night wore on, for the Brooklyn outfit are a band that people in believe on a level that goes beyond them possessing decent tunes.

When McCarthy conducted the crowd on various choruses, it was less call and respond and more a preacher calling out to his flock. Perhaps that is due to his cathartic lyricism that draws emotion out like the proverbial moth to the flame or perhaps it's the onstage presence, which at times channelled the zealous, sweat-soaked spirit of Joe Strummer, and not just because the guitars looked pretty battered.

Musical comparisons to the Clash sprang to mind too, including a run-through of Guns of Brixton's gangster mythologising in the encore. A closer link, though, would be Bruce Springsteen's most chest-beating, blue-collar storytelling. For all that songs were flavoured with brass and strings, the majority plucked from their two albums were muscular, armsaloft rockers.

There was an aggressive kick to Balled Of A Patient Man, a thrilling cry on Cruel City and an emotional build on Now You Are Free. It was rousing, with the only quibble being the group, much like contemporaries the Gaslight Anthem, relying too much on such rock when a dash of variety can help a set.

Yet the lengthy encore, which included a cameo by Frightened Rabbit's Billy Kennedy, was superb. It featured a clutch of songs performed on the floor, audience circled around Augustines and joined in communal sing-along, a sight stirring enough to fully place your faith in them.

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