Limp Bizkit @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

Nostalgia is a beautiful and powerful thing.  The way that one song can take you back to a particular time and place, awakening a treasure chest of related memories which might otherwise have been locked away forever.  Multiply that by a setlist of 16 songs and that’s what Limp Bizkit’s set at the Kerrang! Tour 2014 did last night.

For 80 minutes the O2 Academy was transformed into my childhood bedroom and I was 18-years-old again listening to this red-capped dude with the screechy voice bringing nu-metal into the new millennium.

The set was packed with songs from that era, with only one – Gold Cobra – even breaching this decade.  The opening combination of a cover of Guns N’ Roses’ Welcome To Jungle merging into Rollin’ midway through was explosive, and from that moment on any lingering frustration over Fred Durst’s late cancellation of a gig here last summer was blown away.

There was an intense energy in the venue which had given it sauna like qualities by the time a monstrous Break Stuff ended the night.  There was no let up, either on stage or off, as Limp Bizkit powered through a barrage of early noughties hits:  My Generation, My Way and Take a Look Around all featured in a set which was also comprised of almost a third of covers.  George Michael’s Faith provided the most raucous of sing-alongs, whilst a Nirvana medley of Heart-Shaped Box and Smells Like Teen Spirit gave us an insight into Durst’s influences.  Killing in the Name – the Rage Against The Machine smash – was another powerful cover.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Fred Durst possibly has one of the worst voices I’ve heard live, and he dresses like the worst dressed 15-year-old boy.  However, that gig last night was easily one of my favourite gigs ever.  It was unforgettable; largely down to a heavy sense of nostalgia and an almost perfect set list to fuel it.

City and Colour @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

I’m not sure what’s happened since I last (and first) saw City and Colour play at the sparsely filled King Tuts tent at T in the Park 2011, but the O2 Academy was busier and more boisterous last night than I’ve seen it in the last year, save maybe for Counting Crows.

Dallas Green’s City and Colour seem to have exploded in popularity; perhaps off the back of their successful stint supporting Biffy Clyro and the release of their fourth album The Hurry and the Harm last year.

For a set which consisted largely of songs dealing with death and loneliness the reaction of the audience to each track was one of almost boyband proportions of screaming.

One of the few things I find difficult about listening to City and Colour is that I’m not particularly fond of Dallas’s voice.  I can’t explain exactly why, but it really begins to grate on me after a few songs.  This wasn’t so much the case last night as the guitars and drums shared an equal stage with Dallas’s voice.  There was almost an edgier, rockier sound to the music; almost as if to compete with the spectacular stage lighting and dry ice.  There were extended jams, guitar solos and lengthy bouts of wailing from Green:  this was a big sound for a big show.

Everything sounded bigger, louder and grander.  Dallas’s harmonica echoed painfully on Body in a Box and guitars dominated Sorrowing Man in an epic finale to the main set.  The Girl was, naturally, the evening’s most popular singalong opportunity.  That little part in the middle, where the song goes all quiet as though to tease an ending, only to explode into folksy glory was even better live.

Counting Crows @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

It’s a rare treat to find a band at the peak of their powers, especially one whose debut album is twenty years old, but Counting Crows sounded like a group in prime form as they brought their first UK tour in four years to an end in Glasgow last night.

Backed by the considerable talents of, amongst others, Dan Vickery on lead guitar and Charlie Gillingham on accordion, Adam Duritz has one of the quirkiest voices in music, and a passion about his songs that few can match.  He ventures off on winding detours midway through songs, such as the dalliance with Oh Susanna during main set closer Rain King, before bringing it back for a rousing final chorus which had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

Duritz’s only instrumental duty is a brief flirtation on the piano, but he is a frontman with boundless enthusiasm and an emotional connection with his audience.

Such is the wealth of material produced by Counting Crows their setlists have varied wildly from night-to-night on this tour.  Staples such as Round Here, Hard Candy and Omaha featured at the O2 Academy, but there were also tour debuts for Daylight Fading and Good Time and a 2013 resurrection of the brilliant Ghost Town.

At least four covers included a flawless Return of the Grevious Angel and a crowd pleasing version of local favourites Teenage Fanclub’s Start Again, however it is with their own material where the band excel and the lyrical marvel that is Mrs Potters Lullaby was a real standout in a set packed with hits.

The crowd was sent off into the night with The Mamas and The Papas’ California Dreamin’ playing over the PA and Adam Duritz leading a singalong from the stage.  It was typical of his energy and the feelgood factor created by a band who know how to put on a show.

The Gaslight Anthem @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

There’s a line in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues which says, “tell your pappa you’ll be home when the good feeling dies,” and if that was the case here The Gaslight Anthem would still be playing now, for they create a feelgood, positive energy at their shows like no other.

Pooling from a setist which spanned their four record career to date the band treated the raucous Glasgow audience to a night which went by faster than an Alex Rosamilia chord.  Whether it’s the influence of alcohol, a greater fanaticism for the band or a generally better ability to enjoy themselves – or a bit of each – there’s nothing quite like a Glasgow crowd on a night like this.  The band evidently fed off the energy coming from the stalls and it produced emphatic results.

Brian Fallon was in a playful mood with a rant against Justin Bieber; demonstrating his love of the way Scottish people pronounce the letter ‘o’ – as in “Little Monsters” becoming “Little Moonsters” – and offering some film critique:  The Notebook good but sad; I Spit On Your Grave nasty.  But it’s with their music that he and his band excel and this was another fine performance of room-shaking, sweat-inducing rock.

Sink or Swim had a greater presence here than in Manchester, with the addition of Boomboxes and Dictionaries and particularly Drive adding to the ferocity of the set, which already packed a powerful punch with the intensity of the likes of Biloxi Parish, Great Expectations and The ’59 Sound.

But The Gaslight Anthem can mix it up and show a softer side too.  Here’s Looking At You, Kid is performed under an almost hushed reverence and the likes of opener Mae and She Loves You display the wide range of talent in the band.

What is perhaps most impressive about this model of The Gaslight Anthem is the way that certain lyrics seem to act as dramatic signposts throughout the set.  The part during The ’59 Sound before the line “ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night” rouses the audience even more, while the word “defeat” in Handwritten provokes a reaction.  The closing line of Here’s Looking At You, Kid, the mid-section of Angry Johnny And The Radio and the abforementioned line from Even Cowgirls Get The Blues all act as moments of drama.

The Gaslight Anthem have everything going for them.  A charismatic frontman, a group who have been together and recorded together long enough to fine-tune an excellent stage performance, a back catalogue of great songs into which the recently released Handwritten fits comfortably and a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase.  With live shows of this quality complimenting the high standard of their released, there is no limit to what these boys from New Jersey can achieve.