Live review: The Xcerts


This review was first published for the Strathclyde Telegraph on October 10th, 2017.

While a similar sentiment was shared when the Strathclyde Telegraph last reported on a live music event taking place in the hallowed hall that is St Luke’s, it would act as a disservice to not mention that there is, indeed, a buzz in the air prior to The Xcerts’ biggest Glasgow headline show to date.
Maybe the venue itself attracts smaller, Scottish acts who appear to be on the cusp of something greater than they have already experienced in their careers thus far.
With a band like the Xcerts, who hail from the self proclaimed “Aberdream,” have been on the alternative/Kerrang!-esque bands radar for awhile. A lot of that is thanks to their last release, There Is Only You, which came out in 2014.
Tonight, however, we are not here to solely celebrate the absolute masterpiece that that album is, but we are in fact here to help them to chime in a new era. The three piece immediately kick in with latest single, ‘Daydream,’ taken from their upcoming release, Hold On To Your Heart with a ferocious energy that feels fresh and new.
There is a certain rockstar quality to the singer, Murray MacLeod, who appears to be in his element when pertaining from the left hand side of the stage, taking front and centre between songs and lyrics proving that he is certainly sure of himself and the quality of the songs that he is currently performing.
Two new, as of yet unreleased songs from HOTYH, are also played. ‘First Kiss Feeling,’ feels like a departure from the sound perfected on their last release — it may spell a move towards a more poppier, perhaps more mainstream marketable sound, which, I suppose falls in line with their first two releases thus far (‘Daydream,’ ‘Feels Like Falling In Love.’)
Don’t get me wrong, those two songs are the absolute boys and I have listened to them pretty much consistently since they both dropped on Spotify.
While the songs from TIOY receive the a stronger crowd reaction than some of their older ditties, there is a particular stand out point where the rhythm section leave the stage, which leaves MacLeod to sing ‘Pop Song,’ solo, with just his guitar and lights dimmed as his company. It’s an odd choice – to pick one of the most loved, upbeat tunes from their last album, to be reduced in this way.
I don’t say reduced in the sense that the quality overall was any less, not at all. It’s a perhaps controversial choice to make.

If you watch the clip above, you can probably see the motivation behind why the song was performed the way it was tonight.
Given that the Xcerts have the stage to a sold out show, playing to adoring fans of which they have cultivated over the years – it makes sense that they would strip back and ensure that ‘Pop Song’s’ lyrical content was at the forefront.
Plus, they have plenty of other bangers to make up for it for the one quiet rendition, anyway.
There are some deep cuts played from older records, specifically for those diehards – who, in reaction, go hard trying to create a small mosh pit in the middle of the converted church floor.
Another highlight comes when the band blaze into ‘Slackerpop,’ where the refrain of “I’ll be your man, I’ll be your mannequin,” and subsequent whoa-oh-oh’s are pretty spine tingling. MacLeod also takes a this moment when playing the song to lap up the intense audience response, asking them to indulge them as they want to “pretend to be Aerosmith,” by making the upper and lower tier sections of the venue have a sing-off.
Following this, there is a tribute to the late Tom Petty – who MacLeod bares an unsettlingly striking resemblance to – as they play a touching rendition of ‘I Won’t Back Down’. They make a remark about how, as at the time of the live show, Petty’s passing had only been the night before. They had heard the news when they were in Bloc+ the night before, and remarked that he had “left behind some real life magic.”
The Xcerts-54
The last song of the night – before the encore – is ‘There Is Only You’, which he dedicates to “each and every single one” of the people here tonight. While the night rounds itself off with the ever poignant, deep cut of ‘Aberdeen 1987,’ and the finale takes its place with the break out single of their new era – ‘There Is Only You,’ we are able to see the entire band humbled, clearly extremely moved and incredibly grateful for the entire evening. The only negative I can really think to pick out from the night is a whole is that it felt that it was cut a bit short — however I feel like that comes with the territory of riding the crest of the mighty Xcert’s crimson wave. (That’s not a period joke, but more a reference to their red colour scheme that they’ve opted for with their recent promo for the new album. I swear.)
As they begin to exit the stage, clearly exhilarated and overcome with emotion, in a total 180 swerve – the aforementioned lead singer drops to his knees and bows down to the crowd, the penultimate gesture to show how much he – and the band too, I suppose – appreciate the outpouring of love felt tonight.
And to that: I can say for sure that the feeling is absolutely mutual.

All photos taken by Jack Dunsmuir of the Strathclyde Photo Club.

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