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We Are Augustines - The Arches, Glasgow - 7th October 2012 (Live Review)

Monday, 15 October 2012 Written by Jonny Rimmer
We Are Augustines - The Arches, Glasgow - 7th October 2012 (Live Review)

We Are Augustines have a few discernible qualities that are immediately going to attract the casual listener – they're undeniably earnest at a time when authenticity is becoming an increasingly valued trait in music again, even if that authenticity is the marketable trait (See Mumford & Sons); and they have obviously listened to a bit of U2 and Springsteen in their time, and they know that any band that aspires to stadium level needs that anthemic reverb-soaked sound to get noticed. Oh, and lead vocalist Billy McCarthy has a gruff voice and a hat.

ImageIf I were a lesser man, I might suggest that the fact McCarthy receives wild cheers whenever he dislodged/recovered the aforementioned hat, is indicative of the “level” of crowd that have come to see the band in The Arches tonight. One thing I know for sure is that We Are Augustines had won over the jam-packed Glasgow venue before they arrived. The band's reception is rapturous, and their stage presence is obvious as they thump their way through cuts from their debut album 'Rise Ye Sunken Ships'. The fact that McCarthy has been “ill in a hotel room all night” only increases the crowd's adoration for their husky heroes. Whilst the band's performance is accomplished, it is still a shame that his admittedly captivating vocals are not up to par, and the stronger tracks like 'Juarez' suffer for it.

There is also a sense that We Are Augustines' key strength lies in their striking lyrics rather than any musical prowess. It is the latter that demands attention tonight and, without their stellar album production, their limitations become obvious. The panoramic choruses of songs like 'Headlong Into the Abyss' (“follow me down...”) may be rousing enough, but the guitar lines are generally bland and repetitive. The strumming and tom-based build ups create an epic façade, but the overall effect just leaves me cold, especially when every other song builds up to a sustained “yeah!” (I really don't want to have to mention Mumford of all bands again).

There are other nitpicks: why play acoustic-based tracks with a telecaster, and less acoustic-based tracks with an acoustic? Then again, fans would argue that my bafflement is more down to bias than anything else, which leads to my dilemma – I want to like We Are Augustines. Their passionate lyricism and hope-ridden sound is arguably more preferable to the moody post-punk that is still prevalent in this country. And yet, their build-ups are far from enthralling, their choruses are very hit-and-miss and some of their songs (particularly their most well known track 'Chapel Song') end abruptly without reaching a practical climax. This band can perform but the stuff they perform doesn't impress me – fans in Europe still have a month to check them out and make up their own mind.


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